Ruth and Carol: Connecting to the Community Through Volunteer Service


Ruth started volunteering with the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) in 2012 at its main distribution center in the Shirlington area. She had been serving there for two years when she learned about the need for volunteers at one of AFAC’s weekly community distribution sites, The Marbella Apartments, an APAH community. Five years later, her service at Marbella continues. A long time Arlington resident and retired APS art teacher, Ruth views her weekly service as being an important part of the “web of connectedness” which keeps a community strong. “We owe our neighbors the service we provide because we are all connected as a community.”


Carol started working with the Marbella grocery distribution a short while after Ruth began. They have been inseparable ever since. “We are a good team!” says Carol proudly, naming Ruth as one of the best parts about her volunteer service. Carol is also a long time Arlingtonian, having moved across the river from DC more than 40 years ago. Carol’s professional work was always centered around teaching and working with people, offering counsel to help them find answers, solutions, and resources. This is likely why volunteer service at Marbella is such a great fit for her. Carol serves the greater community in other ways as well, volunteering through her faith community.

Why They Serve

What keeps these long-term volunteers coming back week after week (and year after year!) to help with Marbella’s grocery distribution? Their connection to the residents.

Over the years, they have seen families and children grow up. They have come to learn the likes and dislikes of many of the residents who come through weekly for their groceries. They have seen residents, who at first are shy and reserved, grow comfortable with them, greeting and chatting with them as they move through the line. It is also a common occurrence to hear them sharing cooking tips for the week’s fresh vegetables with folks as they “shop.” Ruth and Carol, and their third volunteer partner Ricki, have also been known to box up groceries and deliver to residents who are at risk of missing the week’s grocery distribution due to medical or other issues. Knowing the residents so well, they let staff know when a resident has been missing the distributions for an extended period of time.

Both Ruth and Carol are active, visiting family across the US and Canada, traveling for pleasure, and hosting visits from family and friends. They always return, though, faithfully arriving at the Marbella community room at 3pm on Thursdays, filled with love and compassion that they will share with everyone who comes through the door.

Thank you, Ruth and Carol, for your years of service.