Honoring those who help the homeless

By Vanessa Mizell
Monday, May 31, 2010

A local community volunteer, church and business were inducted into the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network's volunteer hall of fame during the organization's recent spring event at the Signature Theater.

A-SPAN, a nearly 20-year-old organization that serves the homeless in Arlington, drew more than 250 supporters, corporate sponsors, faith community representatives and volunteers for the event.

During the 45-minute program, the organization honored Central United Methodist Church of Arlington, Shirlington Self Storage and one of its own volunteers, Art Baltrym. Baltrym, a 60-year-old retired cabinet maker, was recognized for regularly visiting two of the clients in the organization's permanent supportive housing program, which serves chronically homeless people who have either a mental illness or are recovering from drug addiction. During the snowstorms in December and February, he stayed overtime at the hypothermia shelter, which was required to remain open 24 hours.

"I enjoy the people I volunteer for so much," Baltrym said. "They are great people, and they really are in need of the help. I wish everyone would put in the time."

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Virginia Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington), and Arlington County board members Mary H. Hynes (D), Barbara A. Favola (D), Chris Zimmerman (D), and J. Walter Tejada (D) also attended the event.

The event raised $35,000 for the organization's programs, $4,000 of which will go to the Make-It-A-Home initiative that provides beds and furniture for clients who have found housing. The rest of the money will support programs that provide meals to homeless people and a day center where they can take showers and do laundry.

Some of the 150 donated items in the silent auction were a rafting trip, private lessons from a chef and a dine-around package with nine restaurants.

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