July 16, 2013

One Day, Ten People, Endless Thanks – BB&T Lighthouse Project Serves AAC

Classes at AAC are better than ever this year thanks to our art-loving friends at BB&T! Our classrooms have received a revitalizing face-lift and some new equipment. With the help from a group of amazing BB&T employees, we’ve been able to transform a cluttered storage room into a comfortable and functioning classroom, allowing us to expand our educational offerings. BB&T’s 2013 Lighthouse Projects made this possible, and we are so fortunate and grateful to have been chosen right when we needed it most!

BB&T Lighthouse Project Volunteers and Arlington Arts Center Staff
Front Row, Left to Right: Ana Clavel, AAC Education and Outreach Manager Samantha Marques-Mordkofsky, Devika Wimalkantha, Rodney Francisque
Back Row, Left to Right: Vai Mathavan, Ruby Richter, Viktoria Droujinsky, Linda Grove, Bob Reiter, Penne Nelson, AAC Executive Director Stefanie Fedor. Not pictured: AAC Volunteer Megan Magee

The Lighthouse Project is all about “people interacting and participating, not just giving money,” explained Penne Nelson, Vice President of the BB&T Arlington branch. She went on to discuss the genesis of the Project, which began about five years ago “as a way to help the communities where we are.”

To Do List for BB&T Lighthouse Project Volunteers
Our exhausting To Do list famously tackled by the gracious Lighthouse volunteers

BB&T asks its employees to identify needs in the community, and come up with the solutions. These solutions will always include both financial support and service. So, in our case, Penne and 9 more employees from the Arlington BB&T came to AAC and sorted, organized, and cleaned three classrooms. AAC staff members also pitched in that day: Executive Director Stefanie Fedor, Education & Outreach Manager Samantha Marques-Mordkofsky, and AAC Volunteer Megan Magee all joined the cleanup effort. We were also granted $1000 for equipment, which allowed us to purchase organizers, a storage locker, file crates, and a variety of miscellaneous items to make our educational space more comfortable and conducive to learning.

Penne explained that each project is reviewed to determine the most effective use of volunteers and money to make sure that the effort is meaningful to the community. During this process, Penne approached AAC’s Executive Director Stefanie Fedor to discuss a few different ideas that would make the most of the resources. At the time, we were gearing up for summer classes, prepping classrooms and sorting through supplies. That’s how we decided that Penne’s time, people, and money should be used for the benefit of our students who interact with this space throughout the year.

During the cleanup, Penne told us about how the Lighthouse Project has grown over the last five years. From volunteering at homeless shelters, hospitals, and neighborhood centers to cleaning the river in Anacostia there have been 4,400 projects completed since 2009. In 2011, 85% of BB&T’s workforce participated in a Lighthouse Project. This adds up to 200,000 volunteer hours. BB&T actually pays its employees for five hours per volunteer day for participating in a project. Knowing that, it’s easy to understand the high participation factor, but it’s a superb way for BB&T to encourage community building, and anyone who has ever volunteered their time and energy for something knows that the true reward has nothing to do with money.

Penne said, “It has really been quite an inspiring idea. It definitely makes you more aware of the different elements in the community. You drive by some of these places and see what they need, and you realize that you can make a difference.”

Arlington Arts Center Classroom
Arlington Arts Center Educational Space
BEFORE = Clutter


Arlington Arts Center Educational Space Revitalized Classroom
Arlington Arts Center Educational Space
AFTER = Comfort


– Written by Carollei McMillin, AAC Marketing & Development Intern

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