January 20, 2017
Edit Module
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print

Guide to Giving

Essential information on 37 local nonprofits that serve people in need in our community. How can you help? Start here.

Arlington Free Clinic

Arlington Free Clinic

Photo Courtesy of Arlington Free Clinic

(page 1 of 3)

The suburbs just south of Washington, D.C., enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the country. Property values continue to rise. The unemployment rate is 3.5 percent. Our public schools are ranked among the best in the nation. Urban redevelopment experts have called Metro’s Orange Line corridor a national model for walkable urbanism.

But it’s not the easiest place to live for the 14,800 county residents living below the federal poverty line, nearly 3,400 of whom are children. The cost of living in D.C. and its wealthy suburbs—including Arlington, Falls Church and McLean—is nearly 50 percent higher than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s 2011 ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which compares cost of living data in 309 urban areas.

Housing prices in our area are two and a half times the national average.

As a result, thousands of local residents struggle daily with hunger, homelessness, lack of health insurance and inadequate wages. Many are elderly with medical problems living on fixed incomes. Others count among the working poor—employed, yet still not making enough to support their families.  

How can you help? Start by finding a cause that you want to support by donating your time, money or both. “There are dozens of hard-working, effective, local nonprofit organizations that are really making a difference,” says philanthropist John Andelin, who serves on the board of the Arlington Community Foundation (ACF).

What follows is a list of 37 nonprofits that provide important services in our area. (Due to space limitations, we limited this year’s list to human services organizations, although we will consider adding nonprofits with an arts focus next year.)

“There’s never been a better time to give to charities right here in our community,” says ACF Executive Director Wanda Pierce. “It makes the place where we live and work a better place for all.”

We offer thanks to ACF (www.arlcf.org) for its help in compiling this resource.


AHC (ahcinc.org) develops and preserves affordable housing for low-income families. It also offers educational programs for children, teens and adults through the community centers on its 22 properties.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 covers afterschool supplies for 15 children between the ages of 6 and 11.
•    $1,000 provides 16 afterschool drama or dance workshops for 20 children.
•    $10,000 pays for 12 summer camp field trips for 100 children.
Volunteer opportunities: SSL*
•    Tutor middle and high school students one night a week for 1.5 hours.
•    Supervise children (ages 6-11) in afterschool programs one or more hours a week between 3 and 6 pm.  


The Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless (www.aachhomeless.org) provides transitional housing and support services to women and families. It runs Sullivan House, a facility with 10 units (50 beds) where clients may reside for three to five months while receiving counseling and referral services.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County and the City of Alexandria
What a donation buys:
•    $250 provides career and job-interview coaching for one client.  
•    $1,000 covers holiday gifts and activities for 45 families.
•    $10,000 provides life-skills training for three families for one year.
Volunteer opportunities: (18 and over)
•    Teach English as a second language or help adult clients prepare for GED exams and job searches.
•    Tutor children (ages 5-13) Monday-Thursday after school.
•    Mentor individuals who wish to launch home-based businesses. (Business management, sales, marketing and finance expertise needed.)
•    Organize food and donation drives.  
•    Host and/or help organize teams for fund-raising events.  
•    Organize pantries, clean the children’s activity room, weed the garden, or provide other types of maintenance.  


The Arlington Community Foundation (www.arlcf.org) facilitates charitable giving to support the community and helps individuals, families, businesses and organizations meet their charitable goals. Contributions can be made to the foundation’s community grant and scholarship programs. (Last year, ACF awarded $327,500 in college scholarships to 145 students and provided grants totaling $300,000 to 50 local nonprofits and schools.) A donor or group may also establish its own named charitable fund.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Primarily Arlington, but also the broader D.C. metro area
What a donation buys:
•    $250 covers a small community grant (e.g., supplies for a puppet theater at a local middle school).
•    $1,000 provides one college scholarship or one prompt-response “emergency” grant (e.g., a replacement washer and dryer for the winter emergency homeless shelter).
•    $10,000 seeds a permanent charitable giving fund (to be named by you) to support your particular interests.
Volunteer opportunities: SSL
•    Assist with events (gala, golf tournament, etc.), office tasks, e-newsletter, website updates and community outreach.
•    Participate in the grant or scholarship review process.


Arlington Food Assistance Center (www.afac.org) gives low-income families and individuals access to nutritious, supplemental groceries. More than 36 percent of AFAC’s clients are children and nearly 18 percent are elderly. More than 60 percent of the food distributed is donated.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 provides one week of food for 10 families.
•    $1,000 provides one week of fresh eggs for 1,600 families.
•    $10,000 covers three months of food for Backpack Buddies, a program that provides weekend and holiday meal packs to homeless children in Arlington Public Schools.
Volunteer opportunities: SSL
•    Organize a food drive.
•    Help with chicken-bagging on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. (AFAC buys chicken at wholesale prices, but it needs to be sorted before it can be distributed.)
•    Collect donated fruits and vegetables via farmers’ market pickups and visits to local farms.
•    Plant vegetable seedlings for AFAC to distribute to clients and its “Plot Against Hunger” gardeners. Or plant an extra row in your garden and grow veggies for donation.


Arlington Free Clinic (www.arlingtonfreeclinic.org) provides free health care to low-income, uninsured adults. Most AFC patients work, but have jobs that do not provide health insurance. The clinic and its partner facilities provide both  primary and specialty care, as well as women’s health screenings, mental health services, physical therapy, pharmacy services and diagnostic testing.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 covers medications that are not available through the on-site pharmacy.
•    $1,000 covers two automatic blood pressure cuffs or 10 thin prep pap tests.
•    $10,000 buys three pieces of equipment for enhanced eyesight evaluations; or medical supplies for all exam rooms for two years.
Volunteer opportunities: SSL
•    Assist with administrative tasks, pharmacy support, fundraising and other needs, working at least one 2-3-hour shift per month. Interview and training required. Medical volunteers must submit current licensing information.
•    Internships lasting 6 to 14 weeks are available. Occasionally students may complete short-term assignments of 10-40 hours to fulfill scholastic, grant or other requirements.


Arlington Pediatric Center (www.arlpedcen.org) offers comprehensive, affordable health care to infants, children and youth (up to age 19) whose family income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Care is provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay for services. APC expects more than 14,000 clinical visits in 2012. 
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $150 covers the cost of a doctor’s visit for one uninsured child.
•    $250 covers supplies (syringes, gowns, gloves, etc.) for 158 clinical visits.
•    $500 covers five counseling sessions for a child in need of mental health services.
•    $1,000 nearly covers a noninvasive pulse oximeter to reduce painful needle sticks for children and time-consuming blood draws for staff.
•    $5,000 pays for well-child infant care for five newborns in their first year of life (visits at 2 weeks, and 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 months)
•    $10,000 covers the unreimbursed costs for 117 clinical visits, or the average cost of care for 26 children for one year.
Volunteer opportunities (21 or older):
•    Licensed volunteer health care professionals (RN, MD, LPN, MA) needed to provide direct patient care.  
•    Serve as medical interpreters (Spanish primarily), assist with fundraising, read to children, perform administrative duties. Commitment is at least six months, 3 hours per week.


A-SPAN (www.a-span.org) provides life-sustaining services for Arlington’s homeless with the ultimate goal of securing individuals in permanent housing. The organization provides street outreach; bagged meals; an emergency winter shelter; permanent supportive housing for people with mental illness and/or substance abuse; and homelessness prevention/rapid rehousing programs. It also maintains a drop-in center where clients can take a shower, do laundry, call loved ones, receive job assistance, and get medical, mental health or substance-abuse treatment referrals.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County (primarily)
What a donation buys:
•    $250 fills 10 prescriptions or stocks a kitchen or bedroom for a client moving into housing.
•    $1,000 furnishes an apartment for a formerly homeless person through A-SPAN’s Make-It-A-Home fund.
•    $10,000 covers six months of contract nursing and health care services for both housed clients and clients on the streets.
Volunteer opportunities:
•    Prepare and serve meals through A-SPAN’s Homeless Bagged Meal Program.
•    Serve meals or distribute hygiene items to clients at the Arlington County Emergency Winter Shelter (Nov. 1-March 31).
•    Serve as receptionists and supervisors at Opportunity Place in Shirlington, the drop-in center, which is open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
•    Organize a single-day group project, such as cleaning, painting or maintenance. Periodically, groups help with  “move-in parties” for clients who are moving off the street into their own apartments.


Arlington Thrive provides emergency financial assistance to residents in crisis who cannot pay their bills. The organization provides a front-line defense against homelessness and is part of Arlington’s safety net programs. It is the only Arlington organization that provides same-day financial assistance. This assistance enables recipients to pay their rent bills to prevent eviction and homelessness; to pay utility bills to prevent the shut-off of heating and electric sources; and to pay medical, dental and prescription bills if they are uninsured. Last year, Arlington Thrive provided a total of $820,000 in emergency financial assistance to more than 3,000 local households and individuals.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 covers emergency dental care for a person who does not have insurance.
•    $1,000 prevents a family’s eviction by paying back rent for their apartment.
•    $10,000 helps 50 to 100 clients pay their rent and utilities, as well as emergency medical, dental and prescription costs.
Volunteer opportunities: SSL
•    Field telephone calls one or two weekday afternoons per month from social workers who are requesting emergency financial assistance for their clients. Training is provided. Some computer skills required.
•    Short- or long-term office projects may be assigned. Volunteers with public relations and social-media experience needed.


The Bonder & Amanda Johnson Community Development Corp. (www.bonderandamanda.org) promotes economic and social development. Through its Nauck Community Services Center, BAJCDC provides county information and referrals, social services, financial literacy, housing assistance, supplemental food, employment services and  youth/education services to residents.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 covers 25 Metro SmarTrip cards for clients traveling to and from Arlington’s Department of Human Services.
•    $1,000 helps with supplemental food distribution to 45 existing clients, as well as 25 new ones.
•    $10,000 covers the cost of remodeling BAJCDC’s educational space with proper lighting and outlets, plus office equipment and literacy materials for clients.
Volunteer opportunities:
•    Assist with weekly food distribution on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., youth reading program and special events.
•    Serve as an afterschool tutor or reading buddy once a week for 90 minutes.
•    Promote BAJCDC programs in Nauck and its surrounding neighborhoods as a member of the organization’s Street Team.


Borromeo Housing Inc. (borromeohousing.org) provides education and safe transitional housing for homeless mothers (ages 16-22) and their children. A two-year education, housing and life skills development program helps young women create a self-sustaining future.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: D.C. metro area (Arlington County residents receive first priority)
What a donation buys:
•    $250 provides educational supplies for four young mothers to attend school for one semester.
•    $1,000 provides a month of shelter care for one family, including household goods and infant care supplies.
•    $10,000 pays the safe home’s residential mortgage for five months.
Volunteer opportunities:
•    Serve as a guest chef, infant care supply coordinator or skills presenter once a week.
•    Serve as a grant writer, researcher or mentor on a flexible basis.
•    Help with the annual spring fundraiser.


BU-GATA (www.bu-gata.org) provides advocacy, education and leadership development to Arlington’s Latino and immigrant communities with a focus on housing and youth. Its mission is to improve quality of life and promote neighborhood stabilization in multifamily rental apartments. BU-GATA seeks to empower residents to access services and participate in community decisions.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $100 pays for an SAT prep course for one student; one GED prep course; or materials and transportation for one training session on tenant rights.
•    $465 allows one adolescent to apply for immigration papers and a work permit.
•    $500 pays rent and utilities to help one tenant avoid eviction.
•    $1,000 covers stipends, transportation and materials for three civic participation workshops for eight tenants.
•    $10,000 covers one part-time outreach coordinator.
Volunteer opportunities:
•    Teach basic computer skills or provide homework assistance, two hours per week for 10 weeks.
•    Help coordinate parties, outings, festivals and other special events. Bilingual speakers (Spanish and English) needed.


BRAVO (www.bravotenants.org) empowers tenants to have a voice in housing decisions and advocates for decent, affordable housing. It also promotes cultural/economic diversity and encourages community engagement. Apartment tenants make up 58 percent of Arlington’s population, but are sparsely represented in local civic and neighborhood associations.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 pays for 150 vegetable plants for community gardening.
•    $1,000 helps establish crucial apartment building-based online communities (listservs) linking disconnected neighbors and promoting civic engagement.
•    $10,000 covers outreach efforts to increase the number of county properties allowing community gardening. The goal is not only to produce fruits and vegetables for consumption, but also to create social networks to engage disconnected neighbors.
Volunteer opportunities:
•    Help with office tasks.
•    Recruit volunteers to document landlord policies on financial responsibility for ridding apartments of bedbugs.
•    Provide Spanish translation.
•    Assist with outreach efforts and expand BRAVO’s social-media presence and website content.


Culpepper Garden (www.culpeppergarden.org) provides affordable, safe housing and assisted-living services for low- and moderate-income elderly. It supports 269 seniors who reside independently and 75 who live in its assisted-living facility.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 provides two months of meals and custodial care for one assisted-living resident.
•    $1,000 covers eight months of meals and custodial care for one assisted-living resident.
•    $10,000 provides 12 months of meals and custodial care for six assisted-living residents.
Volunteer opportunities:
•    Coordinate movie nights and lead workshops on a weekly or monthly basis in creative arts, music, art, sewing, knitting, seasonal crafts, decorating, spiritual-hymn singing, bible study, bingo and bridge.
•    Simple social visits are also appreciated (many residents have no visitors).  


Doorways for Women and Families (www.doorwaysva.org) seeks to transform the lives of women and families who are facing homelessness, suffering abuse or fleeing from violence. The nonprofit provides a safe house and hotline, court advocacy, housing assistance, financial independence programs, counseling and children’s services. It’s the only women’s shelter in Virginia equipped with a kennel for pets.
Headquartered: Arlington
Serves: Arlington County
What a donation buys:
•    $250 provides five hours of therapy to help a child heal from trauma.
•    $1,000 provides a year of financial counseling for a family in the HomeStart Supportive Housing Program.
•    $10,000 provides a month of shelter and support services for a family of four at the Freddie Mac Foundation Family Home.   
Volunteer opportunities (18 and older):
•    Provide child care at shelters, answer the domestic violence hotline and assist with day-to-day operations. Training and background checks required. Commitment is twice a month for at least one year.
•    Organize storage rooms, handle administrative tasks or shop for groceries.

Add your comment: