When I moved to Alexandria, I would wander Old Town exploring my new home and I stumbled upon The Athenaeum, a Greek revival Neo-classic building in the middle of the city's cobblestone streets. It looked out of place amidst the historic homes surrounding it and I was drawn to knowing about the building and what it housed. I soon learned that it is a gallery and venue for the arts and home of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts of Association and I began to volunteer so I could have direct access to all of the beautiful things featured there. From volunteer to current board member, I've developed an even deeper passion for the arts as well as commitment to contribute to the Alexandria community.
The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA) is a membership organization dedicated to the maintenance and preservation of the building and the celebration of regional arts and community support (both financial and otherwise) helps make the Athenaeum one of the premier locations for the arts in Alexandria! And all for free to the public. Even during the pandemic, NVFAA has been making performances, arts exhibitions, etc. available virtually as well as providing a space for artists to display their work and a safe venue for couples to marry in a intimate setting (because #loveisnotcancelled). The current exhibitions are currently available online with one specifically dedicated to artist interpretations of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Athenaeum is also open to the public as a great social distancing activity and a great place to take those Instagrammable shots of the city!
As a millenial, upon being approached with becoming a member of the Board I was concerned that I would not be able to financially contribute to the NVFAA in a beneficial way. I could not have been more wrong. The membership levels are an affordable investment and I have gained so much more in interacting with members of the community and being exposed to the plethora of arts in the area. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to me here or if you would like to support the Athenaeum please visit here!
Below I'm sharing more ways to get involved in your Alexandria community if you have never considered these ways to be more active in your community or if you are and are looking for new opportunities!
Participate in an Alexandria City academy
The City of Alexandria hosts educational programs that allow you to meet your residential neighbors and learn more about the local government and its services and programs. I participated in the overall City Academy in 2019 which was only a time investment in which I learned so much about the city and met and engaged other residents. Our completion was recognized by the City Council which was a nice surprise. You can find out more about the different academies and how to apply here.
Join an Alexandria board or commission
The local government and its services and directly affect our everyday lives so in conjunction with voting why not join a board or commission and how your voice continually heard about issues/services that affect you and other residents? From the arts to crime prevention to the beautification of the city there are over 37+ opportunities for you to get involved in topics that you are passionate about and for most boards/commissions you are required to provide a minimal monthly time commitment. You can find out more about different boards and commissions and how to apply here.
Volunteer with your favorite local organization
Honestly, most non-profit organizations have small staffs and are usually open to residents volunteering their time to assist in goals and missions of the organizations. As I mentioned above, I started volunteering with NVFAA just so I could have direct access to the events which turned into something so much bigger. Whatever reason you may want to participate volunteering with a local organization may provide you and the City with tangible and intangible benefits! I've linked a list from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce here.
How are you contributing or being active in your local area? Please share! I would love to share and support!