Helping Northern Virginia Through a Pandemic

Recent data have highlighted both the personal and economic toll COVID-19 has taken on the United States, with deaths surpassing 150,000 and the gross domestic product (GDP) falling by a record 33%. In Northern Virginia, statistics from the Virginia Department of Health have noted a steady drop-off in cases since the region’s peak on May 31, but the coronavirus has also shone a spotlight on health inequities among the region’s population, as minority populations comprise a larger number of the cases detected. This can be attributed to a number of factors including working “essential” jobs with no benefits, living in high-density housing that challenges self-quarantining efforts, and apprehension to speak with and provide personal information to health officials.

As noted in the July 9 e-Link, the Junior League of Northern Virginia (JLNV) has been diligently collaborating with our community partners to better understand the needs of our community and how we can assist them in providing much-needed support to children and families in the wake of this pandemic.

The pandemic has caused our partners to make operational and service changes, not only in how they use volunteers but how their staff interacts with clients. Many have seen the demand for the services they provide — especially food distribution and rent assistance — increase exponentially. As of late June, here are some of the efforts our partners have made to help our neighbors in our community during this pandemic:
  • Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) has been distributing food to neighbors in need, utilizing tents outdoors as staging and distribution areas. Food distribution includes 800-900 kids snack packs a week — comprising four kid-friendly snacks, and either a 100% juice drink or shelf-stable milk — which serve more than 100 kids a day.
  • Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) has seen a 30% increase in referrals since February and is serving 2,400 families a week with pre-packaged food. It, too, moved its distribution activities outdoors due to restrictions, but had been contemplating moving efforts back into its warehouse once safe because of the heat.
  • Britepaths received a CARES Act grant and has utilized those funds to provide grocery gift cards for families in place of food boxes.
Recent thank-you letters from grantees Keen Greater DC and Windy Hill Foundation for JLNV’s support
  • Main Street Child Development Center has also been providing grocery cards to families, as well as operating socially distanced classrooms.
  • Children’s Science Center has been providing online summer camps, which has allowed it to reach a greater number of people.
  • Bridges to Independence (B2I) has continued to move individuals and families from shelter to housing, and has paid rent through June for a number of families it serves. It’s also provided a creative mix of virtual and in-person programs for clients, including a virtual jam session for kids.
  • Tysons-Pimmit Library has been providing virtual children’s programming.
Our grantees have also been active:
  • JK Community Farm continues to provide socially distanced volunteer opportunities, including the gleaning events in which JLNV volunteers have participated, to help feed local families.
  • Keen Greater DC has moved most of its program virtually to serve its clients, who are disabled teens and kids who are at high risk for COVID-19. It’s also offering virtual programs to the general public.
  • Windy Hill Foundation has provided a hybrid virtual/campkit program for kids this summer, which is free to residents.
  • Communities in Schools (CIS) – Glasgow Middle School was one week away from opening a food pantry in the school when Fairfax County schools went virtual in the spring. CIS quickly pivoted to help make sure the students they serve were able to transition to virtual learning.
Many of our partners and grantees have also been creatively looking for ways to engage volunteers to help in their efforts. JLNV will continue to evaluate opportunities for members to volunteer their time and efforts with our partners and grantees to support our local community. Please check back on our Digital Cheetah Community Shift calendar for upcoming volunteer opportunities.


For any questions regarding our community partnerships and collaborations, please contact Community Council Director.