As it continues to build a bigger – and at times more outspoken – footprint, the Arlington branch of the NAACP is reaching out to support partners in its efforts.
On Dec. 3, the civil-rights organization presented $1,000 contributions to Offender Aid & Restoration and to Bridges to Independence.
“It’s not about the money; it’s about the symbolism. We stand with you, arm in arm, as partners,” Arlington NAACP president Julius “J.D.” Spain Sr. told representatives of the two social-safety-net organizations at the event, held at Walter Reed Senior Center.
“Part of our mission is to give back and support other like-minded organizations in our community,” added the NAACP’s first vice president, Kent Carter.
Offender Aid & Restoration (OAR) provides services to those who have been incarcerated and supervises opportunities for those involved in the justice system to avoid incarceration in some cases. Bridges to Independence is a homelessness-prevention organization that in recent years has added a number of wraparound services.
“They are two great organizations that provide wonderful services,” said Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur, an Arlington NAACP member who attended the check presentation.
That was a view shared by Mike Hemminger, third vice president of the Arlington NAACP and criminal-justice co-chair of the Virginia NAACP.
“These are two organizations that are the backbone of our community,” he said.
Sam Kelly, CEO of Bridges to Independence, said his organization works to deal with the root causes of poverty. “We’re right there on the battlefield with the NAACP,” he said.
Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, executive director of OAR, said the contribution not only aids her organization’s bottom line, but serves as a ratification of its work.
“I’m super-gratified,” she said. “I’m excited to be in partnership with all of you.”
During Spain’s presidency, that Arlington NAACP has grown its membership to 900 and has become more directly engaged in a number of civic/political issues, at times clashing with the power structure of the local government.
“We’ve kind of pivoted and moved, pushed the envelope a little bit,” Spain said.
On Dec. 9, the Arlington NAACP (which was founded in 1940) will be among those honored with the James B. Hunter Human Rights Award, presented by the Arlington Human Rights Commission.