The Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) on Nov. 15 honored Andrew Schneider, executive director of the social-safety-net organization Arlington Thrive, with its 2022 Emily DiCicco Humanitarian Award.
Schneider was chosen for leading his organization’s efforts to provide basic-needs support to residents in need across the county.
“For me, this award not only recognizes the close partnership between Arlington Thrive and [executive director] Andres Tobar and the entire SEEC family, but more significantly the collective commitment of Arlington’s safety net to those who are too often overlooked, forgotten and marginalized,” Schneider said at the ceremony, held at SEEC’s office at the Arlington Mill Community Center.
Speaking to the Sun Gazette, Schneider said the impact of current economic conditions has added to the complexity of providing support for basic needs, coming as it has on top of more than two years of pandemic conditions.
“Ongoing inflation is putting tremendous pressure on the families we serve,” he said. “We’ve seen demand for assistance rise steadily over the summer months.”
The organization (which earlier in its existence was known as Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs) served 1,078 families in the third quarter of the year, an increase of 72 percent from the same period in 2021.
“We’re also finding that these families have much greater financial needs,” Schneider said. “So, with winter approaching, higher utility bills and pandemic-aid programs winding down, we’re deeply concerned about the most vulnerable members of our community.”
The Shirlington Employment and Education Center began life in the 1990s to support day-laborers who had been congregating in the Shirlington area. It subsequently has expanded to provide a number of support programs; funding raised through the 22nd-anniversary reception on Nov. 15 will support business-empowerment and driver-education classes.
“We want to thank Arlington County for its continued support of SEEC’s mission to provide employment assistance to Arlington’s immigrant community, especially the day-laborers,” Tobar said. “The support we received at this event will help us continue providing the training our clients need.”