Daily Point of Light # 2198 Jul 8, 2002

Westminster’s Builders Club of Annandale, Virginia believes it is their commitment to serve all those in need with enthusiasm, spirit and pride. They have done just that in the Annandale area. The Builders Club is more than just a program; it is a philosophy and a pledge by many young students at Westminster, to take on the responsibility of making a world the better place for all.

The Center for Multicultural Human Services (CMHS) is a mental health/social services agency in Falls Church, Virginia, whose mission is to assist the low-income, at risk refugee and immigrant population of the Washington metropolitan area to adjust mentally, emotionally, physically and economically to life in the United States. Staffed by multiethnic, multilingual professionals, CMHS is able to provide them with the help they need in their native languages. They rely heavily on volunteers not only for reasons common to nonprofit agencies, but because they regard the help-oriented interface of the clients with mainstream Americans as a primary facilitator of acculturation, integration and understanding among diverse cultures.

The Builders Club, headed by faculty advisors, Dennis Miller and Julie LaRose, is made up of 7th and 8th graders. With more than 60 members, they have provided more than 1,500 hours in community service to CMHS and Fairfax County this year alone. The students voluntarily stay after school two to three times a month to participate in a Builders Club activity. The students do this despite the academic rigors of Westminster School, which requires an average of at least two hours of homework a night.

Under the leadership of Miller and LaRose, the Builders Club conducts one-on-one tutoring services at Timber Lane Elementary School. Once a week, eight students spend 1.5-2 hours sessions helping a group of elementary school students improve their reading, writing, and arithmetic. During this year, they have been able to help approximately 30 youngsters with their schoolwork. Many students have benefited from this program as a result. The program not only empowers the students and improves grades, but it also gives them a sense of hope of succeeding in school. If not for the commitment and dedication from the Builders Club, this program would not be the success that it is today.

In addition, the Builder’s Club gets involved in special activities during the holiday seasons. They hosted a book drive to help improve education. They adopted four needy families and provided the 25 children with Christmas gifts, necessities and food baskets. They also solicited donations for coats to help those who did not have weather appropriate clothing.

The Builder’s Club also has adopted a highway through the Virginia Department of Transportation. They also serve the needy and homeless families in the Washington area at Martha’s Table. They made and distributed more than 1,000 sandwiches. The Club also solicited donations of food from the community and donated it to the United Community Ministry. They were able to donate more than 754 pounds of food to that program.