Voices of Arlington
Voices is where ABB shares stories of how Arlington communities are being transformed with an intimate look at our neighbors, supporters, and behind the scenes work.
Jim Presswood currently serves alongside our Pandemic Response Team and has helped shape the direction of our Pandemic Response Campaign Initiative. Jim is grateful for an organization such as Arlington Bridge Builders, because it has directed his focus on the meaning of serving one another in love, This is his story:
"I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. After graduating from school, I moved around the Southeast and then up to the D.C. area in 2005. For most of my career, I have worked for nonprofit advocacy groups focusing on clean energy policies. I live in Arlington with my wife Janet and we’re members of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.
An interesting fact about me is that I was diagnosed with a cancer in April 2019 called Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The cancer was quite advanced when the doctors diagnosed it, but is one of the most curable types of cancer even in the later stages. The main tumor, which was in my chest, was the size of a grapefruit. The tumor created pressure in my chest, which was painful, and even squeezed my heart.
I spent about eight months going through chemotherapy and radiation. It was a trying time, but the Lord provided. I continued receiving a salary even though I wasn’t able to work that much. My church also came alongside me during that time and was a real blessing. They prayed for me, gave me encouragement, and helped with my practical needs.
My battle with cancer gave me a much better sense of how important it is to be a good steward of my time. It also exposed my spiritual weakness. I was quite fearful when the doctors were trying to figure out what cancer I had. But the Lord demonstrated his power through my weakness. I’m now thankfully in remission and hoping the cancer won’t return.
I have served as a deacon in my church for several years. We are a smaller church, so it is great to have an organization like ABB to help us meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable. We don’t have the capacity in our church to be as proactive in serving these neighbors.
There is a real opportunity right now to help our Latino neighbors, who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. I believe that ABB is truly following the model of Jesus in being amongst the poor to meet both their practical and spiritual needs."
Torey is one of the volunteers that makes ABB’s work possible! Her heart for service grew during college, particularly for Latino communities. Today, she continues this service with our neighbors through the food pantry. We are blessed to know her.
"My name is Torey Driggs and I am from Arlington, VA. I’ve lived here on and off my entire life but also have spent a lot of time in Blacksburg, VA as an undergraduate and now graduate student at Virginia Tech.
A fun fact about me is that I fully learned Spanish in three years and now am actually working towards an M.A. in Hispanic Studies! I became determined to learn more about the language and associated cultures after traveling to Ecuador and coming to terms with not even being able to communicate with others on a basic level. As soon as I got the chance, which was during my second year as an undergraduate, I took a Spanish class. I immediately fell in love and sought out opportunities to immerse myself through tutoring in the Spanish language, attending conversation hours, and surrounding myself with Spanish speakers. I was also fortunate enough to study Spanish abroad in Spain twice and in Costa Rica once.
The ABB food pantry has given me the opportunity to continue to practice the language and learn. When I served through the pantry, I loved making other peoples’ days by bringing food to their porches and they reciprocally made my day not only through allowing me to practice Spanish, but also through their positive mindsets and energy despite the challenging times. I hope to be able to meet these lovely people again and continue to learn from them through great conversations!"
ABB had a blast hosting a meet and greet night with our neighbors! We got to hear from the families who have been helped by ABB and learn more about their stories and experience during the pandemic. It was a special time bringing different parts of the community together, and we are looking forward to more time together! If you’re interested in dialing in, visit our website to learn more on ways to get involved with ABB!
Dr. Tariq Javed is the Ministry Director of ABB and currently runs our food pantry. In serving different communities, Dr. Tariq has a passion for empowering others through compassionate care. This is his story:
I was born and raised in Pakistan in a Christian household. Christian communities face a lot of persecution in my country, so finding access to a good education growing up was often difficult for me.
I had favor from the Lord though, and after I passed my exams, I was offered a job in Kuwait. I started attending a multi-ethnic ministry where the Lord grew my passion for Him. I was grateful for the opportunity to serve and study ministry and theology at the graduate level, which ultimately led me to move to the United States with my family to complete my doctoral studies and to serve more.
But when I was living in Kuwait and visiting my family in Pakistan during the holidays, I saw that many people struggled with poverty and oppression- they couldn’t even eat two meals a day. I was moved to preach and raise money to help the poor in my community. However, when I came here, I saw that it was nearly impossible because of travel restrictions.
Instead, one of my friends who was a pastor had interviewed me for a job at ABB. When this happened, I knew God had given me the desires of my heart! Even though I wanted to serve in Pakistan, God called me to serve people here in Arlington - especially those who come to ABB for assistance. Through this ministry, I have a way to advocate for people.
In this pandemic season, I go to the Capital Area Food Bank to load food onto my truck. I usually get around 1,000 pounds of food per week for the food pantry. People have a lot to choose from, like meat, potatoes, black beans, soup, onions, tomatoes, veggies, carrots, and other things. In fact, the food pantry is famous for its chicken, beef, and fish.
My motto is: When people come, I serve them with compassion and love. I don't want them to feel that someone is just giving them food and they have to accept it. So in a way that makes them feel valued. They have the choice to choose whatever they want for themselves, just like any grocery store would.
God enables us to serve His people. That is the marvelous opportunity, and it is an honor for me to serve Him.
Rossy has always loved Arlington, but struggled at times to take care of her daughters as a single mother, especially during COVID-19. However, she has been blessed by ABB during these uncertain times to continue to provide for her family. ABB is honored to serve her; this is her story:
I had the blessing of coming to this country on a tourist visa with my two younger children. My initial reason was to meet my husband who was already living here, at the time. Since then, I have always lived in Arlington, VA. I remember I began working in 2015 - it was the winter season, so I started off cleaning/shoveling snow. Then I went from cleaning houses to working as a waitress in a restaurant. Since then my English has gotten better.
However, when it came to my family, my marriage fell apart. My husband was an alcoholic and became abusive towards me. Just last year, I decided to take it to court, and he was asked to leave. I had to go to therapy sessions with my girls. I became depressed and suffered through a lot of pain. It was a long process, but thankfully with my girls we have been able to recover some since.
When the restaurants started closing due to COVID-19, I could no longer be a waitress, but I still had money left to pay rent. Sometimes, I was asked to clean houses and that would help some, but it wasn’t enough. My girls were scared, and worried - especially my oldest Margeory (age 10), since she has a stronger understanding of what was going on. She would ask me questions like, “How will we overcome this?”
A friend who was getting assistance through ABB reached out to me, and said that I should apply with them as well, to see if I could recieve the same...I’m thankful they were willing to invite me.
I have been receiving food items to my door at least once a week since the pandemic started. I want to give thanks for the support ABB has given me during this time - it has filled one major basic need. Being unemployed has been of much worry to me and has caused financial problems and economically constraints - not to mention debts. It helps to know that there is a support system that helps get rid of one worried thought: how will I feed my family today?"