A-SPAN’s volunteers contributed over 15,000 hours of service last year, from assisting at the emergency winter shelter to providing bagged meals to people who are living on the streets. Let’s meet some of them:
Nate Vor Der Bruegge and his family have been volunteering for A-SPAN for the last ten years, providing bagged meals on the first Wednesday of every month to St. George’s Episcopal Church in Virginia Square and Gateway Park in Rosslyn. His mother, Anne, has worked or volunteered at many nonprofits across the metro area and is a former member of the A-SPAN Board of Directors. Having met her husband while working at Jubilee Jobs in DC, Anne wanted a way to give back that was simple but still had an impact on people’s lives and which would help instill the value of community service in her son.
Nate is currently a senior in high school, which means the family began volunteering when he was in the second grade! Anne remembers a Halloween when “Nate brought his candy and shared it with homeless Arlingtonians at the church.” Over time, Nate has seen a wide variety of people: “For the most part everyone is extremely thoughtful and it’s nice to be able to relate to them and them to me, which is an opportunity I would have missed had I not volunteered. Sometimes I have seen some unsavory situations – such as fighting – but on a rare occasion. In addition, volunteering gives me a chance to practice my Spanish.”
As a senior, Nate is contemplating his future career path. He wants to be an engineer, but he is still deciding on where he will attend school. He has several volunteer activities on his applications. In addition to A-SPAN, Nate has also volunteered for a specific job at AFAC (Arlington Food Assistance Center). When asked why he likes to volunteer at A-SPAN, “A-SPAN is great, I feel that the people who work and are involved with the organization all want to make a difference and it provides a group activity for my friends and family,” replies Nate. As far as the clients, “Every time I help at St. George’s, I want to say ‘see you next time,’ but in reality I would rather not because I hope that by the next time we volunteer, they’re either housed or in a better situation,” says Nate.
To some people living on the streets, that’s the life that they think they will always know. It’s hard to set goals and have positive self-esteem when many of the people you see on a daily basis either ignore you or look at you with disgust. Volunteers like Nate & Anne, who treat our clients with respect and with smiles on their faces, do more than just provide food. They provide hope and a sense of community. With their help, we can better connect with our homeless clients and work toward ending homelessness.