line for food bank
Have you ever gone hungry? If so, you know it can be a miserable feeling. Unfortunately, there are people who suffer from hunger or homelessness every day. Luckily, as a caring community, support is given to those in need. This week’s Friday Focus recognizes The Arnold House, LLC for their commitment and passion to help those who need food, a place to stay, help getting a job and more. Hearing about one of their favorite moments, sheltering dozens of homeless during winter storm Jonas, really makes you proud to be part of this community and want to help make a difference as well. We caught up with Arline Arnold, leader of The Arnold house, LLC to learn about their organization, challenges and weekly dinners.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: The Arnold House, LLC  is a “boots on the ground” grassroots organization raising awareness to the plight of hunger and homelessness in Southern Maryland.  We partner with citizens, commercial businesses, public and private organizations to deliver meals and other basic necessities to those in need.  Our advocacy programs focus on solutions for individualized self-improvement, community engagement and identifying sustainable housing options for families and individuals needing assistance.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: During winter storm Jonas we worked to house about 90 Charles County homeless at the Waldorf Motel.   We were literally driving around going into the homeless camps to bring people out of the woods.  The Motel also allowed us to convert their lobby into a makeshift kitchen and we were able to provide them with hot meals during their stay.  None of that would have been possible without the generous support and donations from people within the community.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A:  In addition to our weekly Sunday meal program, we have started a soup kitchen that serves the Indian Head and Bryans Road area on Wednesday nights.  Having to find sponsors to fund those efforts over the long haul is what we are facing right now.  We prepare 150 meals each Sunday and about 100 meals are prepared on Wednesday.  Both of these are only possible because of the donations we receive.  People are very giving during the holiday’s but those in need have to eat every day.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A:  We do our weekly Sunday dinner program where we deliver meals to those in need and to some of the homeless camps.  Our BackPack program has grown to five schools.  This program allows us to fill a backpack for a child to take home so they and their families can have a couple of meals to carry them through the weekend. On the May 28, we are doing a build a bag program, where we put non-perishable food, hygiene items and bottled water in a small bag that can be given out to the homeless or people on the street.  We have partnered with Charles County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) to have them place a few bags in their cars so they can pass them out to those in need.  This is a good way to build better relations in the community.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A:  The true success in what we do comes from our team of volunteers and supporters. As we continue to grow we need board members; committee chairs; administrative assistants; media and marketing team members; finance and audit assistance; grant writing; delivery crew; warehouse/storage organizers; general volunteer support staff, just to name a few.  Without these positions, nothing we do would be possible.  With so much work to be done, we always have room for one more person to help make a difference in what we do.

rappahannock
Did you know the Rappahannock River is the longest free flowing river in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed? Flowing 195 miles, it is home to a diverse aquatic ecosystem, provides recreation for people all over and a beautiful scenic view. Friends of the Rappahannock is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, educating and improving the river pollution problems facing the Rappahannock River every day. They strive to make a cleaner river so that we, along with the riparian habitants, can have a safe and cleaner environment. As this week’s Friday Focus, we reached out to Nick Cadwallender, Development Coordinator for Friends of the Rappahannock, to learn more about their organization and how they work to make a difference.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: Friends of the Rappahannock is the voice and active force for a healthy and scenic Rappahannock River. We advocate for a cleaner river by engaging stakeholders in developing solutions to river pollution problems.  We lead restoration projects of degraded areas that cause pollution by bringing the community together through grassroots action.  We invest in educating the next generation of river stewards. More than 6,000 students attend our educational programs annually.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: There are two seminal moments in the advocacy efforts of Friends of the Rappahannock. The first was on February 23, 2004 when the Embrey Dam was removed, making the Rappahannock the longest free flowing river in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  For the first time in over 100 years migratory shad and herring were able to spawn in traditional grounds in the headwaters of the river.

The second was January 11, 2011 when the City of Fredericksburg placed 4,232 acres of riparian land in permanent conservation easement. The easement will forever protect the river health and beauty for future generations to enjoy.  Friends of the Rappahannock worked with numerous stakeholders over many years to bring about these two important conservation efforts.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our biggest challenge is to fund the growing demand for our education and restoration resources in a community that continues to explode in population. The generous support of communities along the river is increasingly important as development and population crowd our precious natural resources.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Saturday, June 4 at Old Mill Park Rock, The River FXB 2016 combines activities from various communities who benefit from , are inspired by and enjoy their time on the Rappahannock River. They can participate in adventures such as foot races, multi sports on the river and other outdoor activities. Participation will include adults, kids, as well as furry friends. Unique art and crafts will be displayed, enjoyment of the best local craft beer, tasty food and live music all day.

Saturday, September 17, RiverFest 2016. Come and save the river while enjoying live music, all you can eat crabs, beer, fried catfish and hush puppies, live silent auctions and boat rides.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Friends of the Rappahannock has lots of volunteer opportunities including tree plantings, river cleanups and hands on river bank restoration projects. Community groups, school groups, church groups and businesses are welcome to join us for these many opportunities.