Efforts to connect Arlington’s growing senior population with services and support have been recognized by the Inter-Service Club Council of Arlington (ISCC).
Peter Olivere, a cofounder of and inveterate volunteer for Arlington Neighborhood Village, on Nov. 15 received the ISCC’s 2023 Community Leader Award during a luncheon program at Washington Golf & Country Club.
“Arlington is a better place because of Peter,” the non-profit Arlington Neighborhood Village said in its nomination, noting that after retirement as a federal-government executive, he plunged into volunteerism nearly on a full-time basis.
Designed to champion Arlington’s seasoned citizens with a wide array of support – much of it provided through volunteers – Arlington Neighborhood Village was founded in 2021 and has grown to nearly 300 members and about 4,000 service requests per annum.
“This is an organization that is truly outstanding,” said Olivere, thanking executive director Wendy Zenker for nominating him.
The Inter-Service Club Council for decades bestowed annual Man and Woman of the Year awards, keeping them a surprise from recipients and the broader community until the day of the luncheon. While that added to the sense of excitement at the luncheon, it sometimes meant the award recipients were not on hand.
Such was the case in 2022, when neither Man of the Year Frank O’Leary (Arlington Optimists) or Woman of the Year Dr. Kimberly Jeffries Leonard (Arlington Links) was available.
As a result, “this year we decided to change,” said ISCC president Sandy Bushue, a member of the Optimist Club of Arlington. The two awards became one, and the recipient was announced ahead of time.
Jeff Englander of the Arlington Optimists, who again in 2023 led the awards committee, said Olivere’s nomination was the unanimous choice of the three-judge panel (all from outside Arlington to keep it fair) among a strong crop of submissions.
Founded in 1940, the Inter-Service Club Council serves as a de-facto clearinghouse to provide ideas and support for the community’s services clubs and affiliated groups. Annually, its members contribute more than 100,000 volunteer hours.
“Volunteers are community-builders – volunteers show a better way of living together,” County Board member Libby Garvey said during remarks.
“Volunteers do volunteer work for a lot of personal reasons,” Garvey said. “It’s healthy – helps us get through this thing called life. I think it boils down to, it makes us feel good.”
(Garvey was filling in for noted local author, journalist and historian Charlie Clark, who was unable to deliver scheduled remarks owing to illness.)
Bushue said Arlington benefits from a strong working relationship between civic organizations and elected officials.
“We take them for granted,” she said of the latter, “but they do a great job. We cannot complain.”
ISCC’s ranks grew by four organizations over the past year, including Arlington Neighborhood Village. Also new members: the Zeta Chi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Center for Youth and Family Advocacy and Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center of Northern Virginia.
As part of the luncheon, Garvey read a County Board proclamation declaring the week of Nov. 12-18 to be Inter-Service Club Council Week in Arlington.