Breaks With Impact - Doing Good in the Neighborhood

Service learning program…in Alexandria! "It really opened my eyes about the problems in Alexandria," says a program attendee after her three-day experience.

Breaks with Impact (BWI) is a program for youth is focused on community engagement. Participants will learn more about social issues facing Alexandrians and how nonprofits address these issues, earning direct service hours and service learning hours. We use the P.A.R.E. model, which offers a structured approach to high-quality service-learning experiences, which include the key components of Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Evaluation. This allows students to be exposed to new realities that open their eyes and challenge what they thought they knew. We want students to notice their discomfort, discuss it within a supportive community, and finally consider how they might live their lives differently as a result of the experience.

Summer 2021 Program Summary:

Volunteer Alexandria welcomed approximately 73 middle and high school students for the in-person Breaks with Impact (BWI) in July and August across 13 days. Highlights from this season includes:

  • Repaired and reconstructed a playground for a local shelter.
  • Over 100 Groceries bagged for Alexandria food pantry
  • Collected 2 dozen bags of trash at a couple of local parks
  • Cut invasive species from over a dozen trees
  • Packed 150 hygiene kits for a food distribution and filled over 30 backpacks with school supplies
  • Sorted donations at Friends of Guest House

One volunteer said they felt “encouraged to continue helping” after packing groceries at a food pantry. Another participant said she felt “good about what I did with my time.” Students pitched in with environmental causes and repaired a previously unused playground for a local shelter. A participant said she “got to help out and make the [Alexandria] a better place [and] met new people. [He] felt great overall and hope to do even more” while another said they “enjoyed seeing the difference from start to finish on the playground.”

Spring Break 2021 Program Summary:

On March 30, students learned how nonprofits work. On March 31, the youth volunteers removed invasive species and cleaned up Jones Point Park with the National Park Service, and on April 1, students learned about food insecurity and filled 268 bags of groceries at the ALIVE Food Warehouse.


Stay tuned for community projects throughout the school year. We are currently planning several activities for youth to serve their community and learn more about their city. Subscribe to the Youth & Family Newsletter for more information!

This program is partial grant funded throught the City of Alexandria’s Fund for Human Services, and Cabot Creamery and many individuals like you.