President’s Letter December 2020

It’s hard to believe 2020 is wrapping up. 2020 has been a year of the unexpected from ordered and authorized departures to travel restrictions, from teleworking to online schooling, from partial lockdowns to wearing facemasks and more due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Last month, AAFSW hosted its annual awards ceremony honoring the recipients of the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA), the Tragen Award, the CCE-EFM Award, and the Dorman Award. Giving is Receiving. This sentiment has been shared over and over again by previous winners. Rarely do you meet someone who is volunteering because they want recognition or financial reward. This is why the SOSA in particular is so special. It gives AAFSW the opportunity to honor overseas volunteers for their exemplary service. Many U.S. diplomats and family members serving abroad are engaged in noteworthy – and newsworthy – volunteer efforts. Far from the “tea and crumpets” stereotype of diplomacy, these Foreign Service officers and family members are out there showing the world the best of the American spirit of volunteerism. Be sure to check out our coverage of the awards ceremony here.

During the pandemic, many members of our Foreign Affairs community have been giving back to their local community, helping those in need. AAFSW was honored to recognize some of these amazing volunteer activities with our “I Volunteer in 2020 Because…” campaign, including Victoria Olsa in Fairfax who volunteers with Seva Truck, a free meal food truck; and Holden Scharpf in Washington, DC, who volunteered his time making PPE Face Shields at a 3D printing company. You can read more about this campaign at

How can you help? Word of mouth is the best source of information. Many churches, local food banks, area school PTA’s, the US Marine’s Toys for Tots program, and more are seeking assistance. Ask a neighbor or friend if they know of an organization in need of volunteers. Even if you are unable to provide your personal time to volunteer, many organizations are accepting donations to continue providing much needed services.

I would be remiss if I did not put in a special request for end of the year donations to AAFSW. Did you receive our invitation to the AAFSW Holiday Spectacular Non-Dinner-Gala-Ball Event Fundraiser created by our Fun For Funds Program Chair, Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen? If not, check it out here. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, AAFSW was not able to host our annual December fundraiser, which supports the Families in Crisis Fund. In addition, AAFSW was unable to hold its largest fundraiser, the annual Art and BookFair this past fall. The money raised allows AAFSW to provide support services and scholarships. We appreciate any assistance you can provide.

AAFSW is a non-profit organization supporting you, our Foreign Affairs community. For 60 years we have promoted the goals and served the needs of our community through advocacy, outreach, awards, scholarships, services, and networking events.

Please click here to donate electronically or mail your check to: AAFSW, 4001 9th Street N., Suite # 214, Arlington, VA 22203.

Happy Holidays! I look forward to continuing to volunteer my time as President of AAFSW in 2021!