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Around Town 2/24 – 3/3

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Silence is Violence

Young Playwrights’ Theater
This multidisciplinary performance will use young people’s writing to address issues including immigration, Islamophobia and xenophobia. By highlighting the words of young people through performances by professional artists and connecting with members of the greater DC community, Young Playwrights’ Theater will actively advance its vision of creating social justice in Washington, DC.

When:Mon Feb 27 2017 (7:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
Where:Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Place SE, Washington, DC 20020
Volunteer Info:Volunteers will serve as ushers at the event, including setting up for the pre-show reception, helping audience members find their seats and cleaning up after the performance.
Contact:Silence is Violence, (202) 387-9173
For more information:click here


Celebrate Black History Month with CASA Prince George’s County

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“Make Justice a Reality for all Children,”… Including Foster Children

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said at his “March on Washington” on Aug. 28, 1963, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” If he were alive today, he may have even rallied support for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA’s) who stand up for boys and girls. CASA’s are volunteers sworn-in by a judge to investigate a foster child’s needs and challenges – from academics to emotional well-being – and then report back their findings and recommendations.

At CASA/Prince George’s County, we celebrate Black History Month and thank Dr. King, and other veterans of the civil rights movement, for marching our nation forward towards a more just reality. In their spirit, we recruit, train and supervise CASA’s in Prince George’s County.

PG County is the wealthiest, predominately African-American county, in the nation. Unfortunately, many parts of the county and its residents suffer from high crime, high poverty rates, and a troubled school system.

Consider this: More than half of foster children nationwide drop out of high school, increasing the chances that they will slip into poverty, homelessness and possibly even jail. Today, foster children often begin their lives impoverished, are abused and neglected, abandoned and even traumatized. None of this is the fault of the children, they were simply born to parents unable to care for them.

Upwards of 70 percent of foster children who have been assigned to one of our CASA’s graduate, increasing the chances that they will enjoy a full and productive life.

We opened our doors in 2001 and, like other CASA’s nationwide, have made a real difference in the community we serve. We now have about 150 CASA’s in a county with more than 400 foster children. Our goal is to have one CASA for each child in foster care.

Studies show that foster children with CASA’s are more likely to thrive. With the help of a CASA, a foster child is more apt to graduate from high school, escape poverty and live a longer life.

kid and adult living room

Celebrate Black History Month by?becoming a CASA, or learning more about CASA’s, please call: (301) 209-0491 or email

Also, see:

Living Life to Your Fullest Potential

Deborah.Drawing about NVTRP

As nine-year-old Deborah Busch – with her twinkling eyes and sweet, shy smile – sits at her kitchen table and chats about why she loves all things horse-related, you would never imagine the challenges she has overcome.

Her mom, Jessica, adopted her out of foster care three years ago. “Deborah suffered from extreme abuse and neglect,” she explained. “When I got her, she was six but she could barely talk and she had no core strength. It was hard just to lift her into the car. She was that floppy.”

On her way to work each day, Jessica would drive past the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program (NVTRP), located in Clifton, VA. Having ridden horses as a child, Jessica knew a connection with animals would play an important role in helping Deborah heal.


For over thirty-five years NVTRP has helped riders to recognize the unexpected potential in their lives by providing equine-assisted activities to children and adults with disabilities, youth-at-risk, military service personnel and their families.

Students improve fitness level and mobility through horseback riding by gaining core strength, muscle control and balance. Working closely with horses and volunteers inspires them to build self-esteem and further socialization, and also helps to provide a sense of community and belonging.

“Deborah has so many diagnoses: fetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD, significant learning disabilities, it was really hard for her to connect emotionally to anything when she came to me,” said Jessica. A connection with animals is a great way for people to develop empathy. That’s absolutely been the case for Deborah.

Learning to ride and care for a horse not only improves the physical health of a rider, but also generates a critically important sense of achievement.

“Riding helps me do my work a lot. Some things are hard for me, like math and reading, and when I get frustrated, I think about the horses. That makes me feel better.” added Deborah.

Lessons at NVTRP are diverse and include instruction in riding skills, exercises, and games, while also focusing on grooming and horse care. Under the guidance of certified riding instructors, each year over 250 volunteers come together to help more than 350 students achieve an enriched quality of life while overcoming physical, mental, and emotional obstacles.

Deborah began riding at NVTRP in the Spring of 2014 and her mom delights in the success she has found.

“I can’t tell you how great it is to see Deborah do something independently,” Jessica said. “She needs so much support in everything else she does, but it’s like she’s a different kid on the horse. Listening and paying attention are so hard for her every place else. Riding just flows out of her. Riding is what’s fun for Deborah, and it’s so important that she has something fun in her life.”

NVTRP is accredited and nationally recognized by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Int’l). Lessons are taught by PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructors who are assisted by up to three volunteers per rider. This type of structure and supervision enables riders to participate in a challenging, physically active sport that gives them confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
To learn how you can help riders like Deborah live life to their fullest potential, please visit or call (703) 764-0269.

Celebrate Black History Month with Dance Institute of Washington

Picture #1-webFebruary is Black History Month, a joyous time of celebration and reflection. We applaud the many contributions of men and women of African ancestry, many of whom accomplished feats of greatness despite considerable challenges.

We are indebted to black creative minds throughout history, those who carry the life blood and soul of the African diaspora. In artists from Duke Ellington to Aretha Franklin, from Michael Jackson to Chance the Rapper we appreciate the innovations of song and dance–the beats, the rhymes, the rhythms. Poetry, philosophy, style and culture have all been shaped and enriched by black creators.

The black community has given the world African dance and drumming, jazz, blues, soul, rock, hip hop and countless other modes of powerful expression that survive, evolve, and change the world around us. People of African descent have contributed and continue to pioneer the way in diverse fields including politics, medicine, economics, technology and science, business, sports and more.

For this blog post, Dance Institute of Washington interviewed its students, parents and teaching artists about how Black History Month inspires them.

“Black history lives in dance, because popular dance has a lot of infusion from Afro-Caribbean dance styles. Back in time, dance was a form of communication and recreation,” says Crystal Waters, a DIW parent.

“Black history is dance! Every form of dance comes from black roots,” shares Maria Fenton, another parent.

“All of our lives are connected through dance. It’s a means of communication,” DIW teacher Yasmeen Enahora explains.

Dance Institute of Washington provides youth, especially at-risk, under-served youth from low-income communities, opportunities to develop artistically, socially, emotionally and intellectually through after school dance training, performances, education, work readiness and experience, and youth development.

The late Fabian Barnes established DIW in 1987 after a career with Dance Theatre of Harlem. Celebrating 30 years of service this year, DIW is one of DC’s largest African American arts organizations.? It is a cultural, educational resource, with its own Columbia Heights studios.

DIW meets the needs of DC children through year-round dance training, education, youth workforce development, and performances. DIW affords underserved populations pathways out of poverty. Graduates go on to colleges, including Harvard, Temple and SUNY Purchase; others enter careers with companies such as Ballet San Jose, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, The Lion King and Dance Theater of Harlem.

Black history and, more specifically, the progressive, successful trajectory of black artists leading the way in contemporary ballet and professional concert dance are true inspirations. From pioneer Arthur Mitchell to Dance Institute of Washington founder Fabian Barnes to today’s beloved Misty Copeland, black artists continually rise above barriers and perceived limitations to excel at the highest levels of dance, establishing the strong appeal of the beauty, versatility and virtuosity of black artists and the black experience. To have a thriving dance world, we must continue to diversify both the talent and audience for dance, and the positive examples of successful black dancers help make this possible.

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Black History Month is incredibly important to the work of the Dance Institute of Washington. Black history is vital because the success stories and foundation work established by other African people help to empower and inspire today’s citizens. When young people of color and of all backgrounds learn their history, they feel increased membership and belonging, they discover precedents for their own endeavors. The learning and creativity that come from looking back to our ancestors provide a path forward to new horizons.

Hope for the future

“DIW gives me hope for the future! Seeing so many young people involved in the arts.”–Crystal Waters, DIW parent

“DIW gives me hope for the future because the teachers mentor me and allow me to be exposed to new opportunities, and I admire them for that.”--Lauren Mueller, DIW student

“DIW gives me hope for the future because the teachers give us the experience that they have as professionals, and allow us to see how far we can go, as dancers.”–Terrion Jenkins, DIW student

“DIW gives me hope for humanity. Today, in the world we live in, DIW shows that through dance the continuation of humanity is possible.”–Faith Wilson, DIW student

“I love that black and white people, people of different races, are focusing on dance together. DIW is a place that offers a diverse dance experience for all races, and that’s what is hopeful about it.”–Robyn Lee Murphy, DIW parent

Picture #3Kahina Haynes, DIW’s new Executive Director is working diligently with the board, staff and community to strengthen DIW’s operations, programs and partnerships to secure DIW’s position as a beacon of hope and launchpad of talent for years to come.

Whether you have a lot of time to give or just a little, DIW welcomes the generous contributions of all volunteers and interns who can support the organization’s mission and core programs. Help is always needed in the areas of marketing, board development, management assistance, fundraising, operations, program delivery, evaluation and customer service. To explore possibilities, please email Mari Williams.

Mentoring helps students gain access to College

FGCB photo

Only 46% of low-income students matriculate to college, according to the US Census. Most of these students are afraid they can’t afford college and that huge debt will burden them and/or their families. At First Generation College Bound (FGCB), we break down misperceptions about college affordability and accessibility, and strive to improve our students matriculation and graduation rates.

Our College Access program works with 150 first generation students annually. Countering the perception that low-income students must win a scholarship to attend college, our program welcomes students with a 2.0 or greater GPA and helps them tackle the financial aid process. Many students receive need-based aid assistance that they didn’t know they qualified for. Our students are ready to make successful transitions to colleges that are the best fit for them and can compete academically with their more affluent peers.

Most of our students must overcome long odds to attend college and obtain their degrees. Mentoring enables our students to overcome barriers which have prevented many first generation college students from attending and graduating from college.

In one-on-one coaching sessions and in workshops, we constantly instill college bound attitudes in our students. Our outstanding College Access Coaches develop customized plans for students, empowering them to surmount barriers blocking their way to their goals. Preparing them to do well in the SAT and maintaining a college bound transcript, we remind our students they can compete academically. We demonstrate attending college is affordable and accessible by showing our students how to leverage aid available to attend college.

For more than 27 years, our college access mentoring has ensured 93% of our students matriculate to college, twice the national average, and 64% of our students finish their degrees in four years, twice higher the national average of 33% for low-income students, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

FGCB is striving to develop support services and training for other organizations and programs. We hope other groups will want to replicate our highly successful model. If more groups adopt our mentoring approach, we’ll come closer to realizing our vision: one day all Marylanders will have equal access to affordable college educations.

You can learn more about our work by visiting

Making a Difference with CASA of Prince George’s County

We make a real difference in the lives of foster children
male volunteer and teen

Every month is mentoring month at Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Prince George’s County, a nonprofit in its 16th year that recruits, trains and supervises CASAs for foster children.

CASAs are volunteers sworn-in by a judge to investigate a foster child’s needs and challenges – from academics to emotional well-being – and then report back their findings and recommendations.

Besides being an advocate, a CASA is a mentor. They are there to talk to the youth about whatever they want to discuss, take them on field trips – such as to a ballgame or an amusement park – and explain to them the importance of becoming a responsible adult.

Studies show that a foster child with a CASA is far more likely to thrive.
kid and adult living roomConsider this: More than half of foster children nationwide drop out of high school, increasing the chances that they will slip into poverty, homelessness and possibly even jail.

Yet upwards of 70 percent of foster children who have been assigned to one of our CASAs graduate, increasing the chances that they will enjoy a full and productive life.

We are proud to say that we make a real difference. We would like to do even more. Our goal is to have one CASA with each foster child. We now have only about 150 volunteers in a county with more than 400 foster children.

Help us celebrate National Mentoring Month by helping us help more foster kids.

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Please keep in mind that these boys and girls are at risk at no fault of their own. They simply were born to parents who, for whatever reason, were unable to care for them. Help us help them!

For more information, please contact CASA/Prince George’s County at 301-209-0491 or email

Around Town 1/14-1/21

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Volunteer Day with Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

Become a friend of Dumbarton Oaks Park! The Park is a community gem with national significance. It needs and deserves our help. Volunteers are working regularly in the park to implement stormwater remediation projects, remove invasive vegetation and replace with native plants that restore and maintainthis great landscape. With your help, all of your partnership, we will bring it back to ecological health and beauty to be shared widely.

When: Mon Jan 16 2017 (09:00 AM – 01:00 PM)
Where: Dumbarton Oaks Park, 3060 R St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Volunteer Info: Volunteers are working regularly in the park to implement stormwater remediation projects, remove invasive vegetation and replace with native plants that restore and maintain this great landscape.
Contact: Amanda Shull, (703) 798-2888
For more information:click here

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ORHF Fifth Year Anniversary Awards Ceremony with Operation Renewed Hope Foundation

Help us celebrate five years of working to end Veteran homelessness at our award ceremony at the beautiful Belle Haven Country Club!

When: Thu Jan 19 2017 (6:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
Where: Belle Haven Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Rd, Alexandria, VA 22307
Volunteer Info: We need volunteers for check in and to sell “bricks” and “apartments”
Contact: Oona Schmid, (703) 967-0924

January is National Mentoring Month.

Consider giving back by mentoring a young person in our area. Look through our list of vetted charities to find the charity that means the most to you and start a relationship today.

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Light the Way with JCADA

SarahSarah* first came to the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA) in late 2015, after receiving a protective order against her husband. Sarah was overwhelmed with caring for her three young children by herself, and like so many of our clients, afraid to tell anyone about the emotional, physical, and financial abuse she experienced by her husband for over ten years.

Through individual counseling with her JCADA clinician, Sarah has processed her past trauma, learned tools to better cope with her abuse-related stress, built a strong support network, and identified ways to keep both herself and her children safe. Now, a year and a half later, Sarah’s divorce is finalized and she has received full custody of her children. She no longer feels ashamed or guilty for the abuse she experienced. Instead, Sarah feels empowered to work towards her personal goals and live safely with her family.

For more than 16 years, JCADA has been a crucial member of the domestic violence services community in the Greater Washington area. Through its free lifesaving counseling services, JCADA has empowered hundreds of survivors, like Sarah, to obtain safer living environments for themselves and their children. JCADA tailors its services to address the cultural and religious barriers that are common to Jewish and other religious and ethnic minorities. JCADA has become a pillar in the community for survivors of domestic violence of all races, national origins, abilities, backgrounds, faiths, genders or sexual orientation.

At its inception, JCADA began working with just a handful of clients. This number more than doubled in the second year. By the third year, the organization was seeing over 20 clients, which increased to about 20-30 per year through 2010. With the launch of AWARE?(JCADA’s dating abuse prevention initiative) in 2009, along with increased outreach efforts and successful trainings with clergy, lay leaders and community members, the numbers of clients rose. As a result, JCADA began receiving dozens more calls to its confidential helpline from family members and friends trying to help someone in an abusive relationship. To date, JCADA has provided clinical support, which includes helpline calls and client counseling, to 2,432 individuals and educated over 8,000 youths, parents and educators about healthy relationships.

As a result of the dramatic increase of women, men and teens who have broken their silence about abuse and reached out to JCADA for support, the organization recently expanded its clinical team by two full-time clinicians (bringing it to 6 in total), through a two-year Victims of Crime Assistance (VOCA) grant from the State of Maryland’s Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention. Thanks to this partnership and the incredible and ongoing generosity of our Catalogue for Philanthropy donors, JCADA envisions a future in which Sarah and other victims who seek support will be able to lead safer and healthier lives and move forward on their roads to recovery.

*Name has been changed

Contact: Hannah Zollman, Director of Development and Communications

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or dating abuse, please contact JCADA for support on our confidential helpline: 877-88-JCADA (52232)


7 Questions with Janine Tursini, Executive Director of Arts for the Aging


1. What motivated you to begin working with your organization?

I first met the founder of Arts for the Aging, Lolo Sarnoff, in the 1990s, when I was working in arts education administration at the other end of the age spectrum, with college-level students and faculty at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. Like so many who knew Lolo, initially I was enchanted by her European charm and extraordinary art collection. It didn’t take long to see that underneath that chic exterior was someone who cared very deeply about the right things. What motivated me to begin working with AFTA was seeing that a path existed for professional artists to, in part, earn a living doing what they love with their art-making, that is, beyond the commercial and often difficult route of exhibiting, performing or selling original works. What cinched it was witnessing an AFTA program. It was a dance workshop led by master AFTA teaching artist Nancy Havlik. I saw a practical and imaginative application for professional artists to use their passion to reach into and make better the lives of marginalized older adults in our communities.


2. What exciting change or innovation is on your mind?

I’m really jazzed that more and more credence is being paid to the field of creative aging both to longtime arts-in-healthcare practitioners like AFTA and those that are just starting out. In the U.S., and beyond, public and private sector partnerships in aging, healthcare and the arts are building more pathways for accessible, affordable and creative arts interventions in caregiving. I have just been invited by Maryland’s Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett, to join his Age-Friendly Montgomery Advisory Committee. We’re working hand-in-hand with the World Health Organization and with Health and Human Services to better adapt structures and services to the needs of our aging population. Since 10,000 Baby Boomers a day are turning age 65, it’s imperative. Look out for more Age-Friendly and Dementia-Friendly buzz, and for more thought leadership from AFTA around practices we can adopt and adapt to address creative care-giving for older adults. We’ll be demonstrating one aspect of it this spring during Strathmore Hall’s Arts & the Brain lecture series.

Conga Line

3. Who inspires you (in the philanthropy world or otherwise)? Do you have a hero?

I have so many. One that comes to mind at the moment is celebrated Washington Post sports writer Sally Jenkins, who wrote a moving call to arms around Independence Day last summer. Her piece challenged us to think about how we can keep a sense of freedom and wholeness as we grow into older age, even as our bodies and minds can betray us. And she cited the example of the revolutionary college basketball coach, her dear friend, Pat Summitt, who had just died of early onset Alzheimer’s at age 64. Jenkins said that it’s not liberty when we do not treat people who are “older and ailing…as if they are sentient and sensitive beings, whose life and belongings are still theirs…when they can’t communicate as they used to we lack the imagination to try to find other ways to reach them.” I have to agree. But, there is hope. And artists embody that very imagination we need to turn the tide of negative stereotypes around aging so that we can still celebrate our remaining potential, our assets, what we still can do as we get older.

4. What was your most interesting recent project/partnership?

Recently, we launched a collaboration by expanding a beloved DC museum’s outreach program so that it includes an art-making component and community celebration. Conversations at The Kreeger Museum is for individuals with memory disorders and their caregivers. In a six-week long series, Kreeger docents, teaching musicians from Levine Music, and AFTA teaching artists facilitate art talks, play live music and make art related to masterworks in the museum’s collection. Workshops take place first at the museum, then at the participating senior care center, and culminate with an exhibition and demonstration at the museum that is open to the public (for example, we invite AFTA supporters). It stimulates reflection, reduces stress, and sparks socialization and artful ways for marginalized seniors that AFTA serves, and their caregivers and the public, to be with one another. For example, in the museum’s sublime Monet Room, one participant described that his Arm of the Seine-inspired pastel drawing reminded him of a hill he and his veteran comrades approached during an attack in the Korean War, a part of his history and his story that his caregivers never knew. How touching for us all to witness this moment together and to be able to honor his service to our country.

man with painting

5. What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces (besides finances) and how are you dealing with this challenge?

Earlier I mentioned that AFTA’s founder was charismatic. In truth, Lolo Sarnoff was a dynamo: a scientist, inventor, artist, philanthropist, and art collector. She passed away just two years ago, at age 98. Our greatest challenge, even 28 years after our inception, is balancing the nostalgia and fondness many hold close for AFTA as Lolo’s organization alongside of our mission and emerging reputation as a nationally recognized and pioneering regional program service model. I know strategic planning may sound kind of nerdy to readers as the answer to dealing with the challenge, but the fact that AFTA is a fully professionalized organization with diverse enthusiasts and defined strategic goals is incredibly important to its success. I’m happy to say that our vision for the coming years is to continue what we do best–delivering top-notch, community-based, participatory arts programs, which are artist-led, multidisciplinary, and designed to enhance the health and quality of life of older adults living with physical and cognitive impairments and accessibility challenges. Meanwhile, we’ll dramatically expand our partnerships, like those in programmatic research, funding, and volunteer engagement, and those partnerships will include more community cohorts, family members, caregivers and intergenerational connections.

6. What advice do you have for other people in your position?

My advice to others in positions like mine is to keep the faith. It’s hard and sometimes really lonely to be a nonprofit executive, especially in smaller organizations. Our founder once told me, and it’s never proven false, when you want to start something, or try something new, remember that it will take you three times as long as you would ever think. Build and work with your board members as closely as you would a good friend. They are an incredible resource and constant source of energy during good times and hard ones.

7. What’s next/coming up for you?

I’ll be writing and (hopefully) publishing more about the AFTA model and the field of creative aging. Look for an article I wrote called “A Person Who Is Becoming”,
which will be published in the international e-journal, Creativity and Human Development under guest editor Dr. Raquel Chapin Stephenson. Separately, AFTA is launching more efforts to secure research funding so we can study the impact of regular arts participation on isolation, loneliness, joy, and depression in older adults. We want to create a rationale for arts programming as a standard model in health care and policy-making. Emerging research already shows that regular arts participation is vital to healthier aging. The National Endowment for the Arts has made fantastic strides gathering and promoting arts-based research showing impact on human development across age spectrums, so there is much more to come.

Around Town: 12/10-12/17

Around town template (3)Sunday, December 11, 2016

Volunteer Day at Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

Become a friend of Dumbarton Oaks Park! The Park is a community gem with national significance. It needs and deserves our help. Volunteers are working regularly in the park to implement stormwater remediation projects, remove invasive vegetation and replace with native plants that restore and maintain this great landscape. With your help, all of your partnership, we will bring it back to ecological health and beauty to be shared widely.

When: Sun Dec 11 2016 (09:00 AM – 01:00 AM)
Where: Dumbarton Oaks Park, 3060 R St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Fee – none
Contact: Amanda Shull, (703) 798-2888
For more information: click here

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Charlie’s Place Holiday Party

Over 100 clients, along with staff, volunteers and friends in the community gather for the Charlie’s Place Holiday party, complete with a gorgeous dinner, tree, gifts, carols and Santa! This is a highlight of our service year, and we need lots of help before, during and after the event!

When: Thu Dec 15 2016 (5:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Where: Charlie’s Place is located at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 1830 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009
Fee – none
Volunteer Info: We need volunteers to bring cookies and other handmade desserts, to prep the meal, serve, clean-up and work in the clothing closet and with the prepared gifts we make for the clients.
Contact: Barbara Wille, (703) 402-3216

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mock Naturalization Interviews at Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)

Come help prepare our students for the naturalization exam! Act as a USCIS officer and conduct a mock interview with a citizenship applicant.

When: Sat Dec 17 2016 (10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
Where: CARECEN, 1460 Columbia Rd NW, suite C-1, Washington, District of Columbia 20009
Fee – none
Volunteer Info: Volunteers would act as USCIS officials to conduct a mock interview. Training included.
Contact: Gabrielle Velasco, (202) 328-9799 ext 216