As part of the national ALS Association, the DC/MD/VA Chapter provides help and hope to individuals living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and their families, with a mission to help treat and cure ALS through research and advocacy. The chapter's staff works to help individuals and families establish communication systems, collaborate with health-care providers, and access resources for medical care and support.
Our Military Kids, Inc. provides grants of up to $500 for children of deployed National Guard and Reserve service members and Wounded Warriors. These grants pay for participation in sports, fine-arts, or academic programs to help reduce the children's stress within limited family budgets. Since its inception eight years ago, Our Military Kids has funded more than 34,000 grants for children's activities, totaling nearly $14 million, helping alleviate stress and anxiety for children in one of the most volatile periods of their lives.
Jiu-jitsu master Pedro Sauer, a native of Rio de Janiero, has spent nearly his entire life honing his craft. He began training at age 5, learning boxing, judo, and taekwondo. At 15, his friend Rickson Gracie approached him with the suggestion that he train in the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu—and Pedro's bond with the Gracie family was formed. In the early 1990s, he moved to live and train with Rickson and the Gracie brothers under grand master Helio Gracie. Through diligence, discipline, and skill, he worked his way up to become an eighth-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu—a title held by only a few in the country.
Today, Pedro passes on his knowledge as the founder and head instructor at Pedro Sauer Total Self-Defense Academy. Inside this 4,000-square-foot training facility, he and his team of certified trainers helm a range of martial-arts programs for youth and adults. Master Pedro personally coaches others in the skills of Brazilian and Gracie jiu-jitsu, techniques that blend standing and ground-based grappling moves with a focus on leverage and teaching one's opponent to sympathize with pretzels. Black belt Krav Maga instructor Brad Burnette trains students in a style of striking and grappling techniques devised by the Israeli Armed Forces. Additionally, khru Bryan Mossey helps students hone body control and striking prowess in Muay Thai boxing and the Filipino martial-arts styles of Kali and Silat.
Founded in 1944 and accredited by the Humane Society in 1977, the private, nonprofit Animal Welfare League of Arlington has helped generations of stray and abandoned animals live out their days in loving, permanent homes. Hundreds of volunteers carry out services ranging from low-cost spaying and neutering for low-income families and individuals and humane education program to animal control. Within the shelter, scores of dogs, cats, and small critters such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and parakeets await new owners to take them home once the staff has ensured their full health and good behavior. The League also hosts several events throughout the year, from an annual springtime Walk for the Animals to classes that help parents prepare their existing pets for the arrival of a new baby with its swaddling blanket made of roast beef.
When searching for a new dentist, patients prize a light touch almost as much as they do extensive training or whiz-bang technology. Fortunately, Tarek Mogharbel, DDS—who worked in District of Columbia General Hospital’s oral-surgery department and is a certified Invisalign and Lumineers practitioner—and his partner, Sun Park, DDS, both describe themselves as gentle people. This character trait translates to each of their cosmetic and family dentistry services. The doctors take special care no matter the procedure, whether it’s an exam for an anxious youngster, a teeth-whitening treatment for an adult, or a new set of porcelain veneers for a ventriloquist’s dummy locked in an eternal, unfeeling grin.
When she was a tutor to children from low-income families in Washington, DC, Kyle Zimmer was amazed by how excited students would get whenever given their own books. As she relayed in a 2011 New York Times story, this work inspired Zimmer to start First Book, an organization dedicated to making reading materials accessible to children in need.
Today, nearly 20 years after Zimmer's eureka moment, First Book works toward this goal through two channels: the First Book Marketplace, an online store with quality books—including Caldecott and Newbery award-winners—available at up to 90% below the retail price, and the First Book National Book Bank, a clearinghouse for publishers’ excess inventory. To date, the organization has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to 50,000 schools and programs throughout the United States and Canada—with more added each month.
The impact has been inspiring. An internal study found that 70% of children reported reading more at home after receiving books from First Book. In recognition of this and other accomplishments, the organization has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2005 Nonprofit Innovation Award and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
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