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ArlingtonInter-Service Club Council lauds volunteer efforts in pandemic era

Inter-Service Club Council lauds volunteer efforts in pandemic era

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At lot has changed in the past eight decades. Heck, enough has happened in the past two years to make it feel like eight decades.

But for the Inter-Service Club Council of Arlington, the role of community volunteerism may evolve, yet the need for it is a constant.

“We’re so blessed to have great citizens,” said Sandy Bushue of the Optimist Club of Arlington, serving as the council’s president for 2021. “They are the fabric of the county, making our little piece of the world a better place.”

The Inter-Service Club Council – essentially a clearinghouse for community organizations such as the Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary and more – held its annual luncheon and awards presentation on Nov. 17 at Washington Golf & Country Club. The 2020 event had been moved online owing to pandemic conditions.


“I’m so thrilled we are meeting, so glad we are in person,” Bushue said.
Combined, members of volunteer organizations that are members of the council contribute about 100,000 hours of volunteer service in the community each year. To honor that effort, the County Board declared Nov. 14-20 as “Inter-Service Club Council Week” in the community.

“Think about the past year,” County Board Chairman Matt de Ferranti said in remarks at the event. “We’ve been called to service in new ways. We’ve seen so many people step up in extraordinary ways. The pandemic brought heroes among all of us.”

De Ferranti said the past year also brought new ways of community discourse. He urged residents to “listen first, then channel our energy and commitment.”

At the event, Earnestine Bridges Borden of The Links, Incorporated, was honored as 2021 Woman of the Year and Dr. John “J.B.” Whitlow was of the Optimist Club of Arlington was saluted as Man of the Year.

Each has spent close to, or more than, a quarter century in their organizations. Borden has been active in endeavors ranging from scholarship programs to promoting STEM for youth to supporting efforts on affordable housing, behavioral health and voting rights. Whitlow, a second-generation Optimist, has served three terms as his club’s president and has played key roles in the organization’s annual golf tournament and its soon-to-open-for-2021 Christmas-tree lot.

The Inter-Service Club Council opts to keep its selection of Woman and Man of the Year a secret until being announced at the luncheon. Both the recipients seemed caught by surprise, with Borden literally open-jawed as she was called to receive her award.

“Wow! I’m so shocked!” she mouthed to a standing ovation.
(Both Whitlow and Borden received certificates honoring their achievements, but their plaques are still on order – “supply-chain issues” seem to be impacting everything these days, council leaders said. But they’re on the way.)

The Inter-Service Club Council got its start in 1940; just a year later, the nation would be plunged into World War II, the Pentagon would be under construction and Arlington would deal first with the issues of wartime and then the postwar boom that succeeded it.

In the intervening 81 years, the only constant in local life has been that change is inevitable and has to be adapted to.

“The work before us is only expanding,” said Rev. Tracy Wines, minister at Clarendon United Methodist Church and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Arlington, who delivered the invocation.

What hadn’t changed, Rev. Wines said, was the desire of many to join together, a “willingness to work for the common good.”

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