HistoryThe Campagna Center is a not-for-profit human services organization that draws together the resources of the Alexandria community to strengthen families and provide programs that help children become caring, productive adults. Since 1945, The Campagna Center has provided quality programming and services to meet the ever-changing needs of Alexandria, Virginia.
The Campagna Center Throughout the Years…
1940s – Standing at the Forefront of Social Issues
In a decade that would see Alexandria’s population double, a group of local women and leaders from civic and social groups recognized an opportunity and responsibility to make an important contribution to the community. In 1945, The Campagna Center—then known as the Alexandria Branch of the YWCA—was born.
The program offered the first and only place for women of all ages—regardless of race or creed—to gather, learn, play, and serve. Social and recreational activities such as the Mother’s Club, bridge, badminton, and handicraft promoted “leadership, morale, and inspiration.”
1950s – Forward Thinking to Meet Community Needs
The 1950s were an unequalled time of social, political, and economic changes. School desegration and housing were among the important issues facing the City. With programs and activities that promoted racial harmony, the members of the YWCA were at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Brotherhood Sunday and the World Fellowship Tea were two of the projects that typify the forward thinking that has become The Campagna Center’s signature.
1960s – A Driving Force in the Community
1962 marked a defining moment in The Campagna Center’s history as Elizabeth Anne Campagna joined the YWCA as Director. Under her leadership, the agency became a driving force in community programs and services—the place to go to for solutions to pressing needs.
An excellent example of Elizabeth Anne Campagna’s visionary leadership is found in the roots of our Head Start program. As the merits of the program were being debated, the YWCA, in partnership with the City of Alexandria, stepped forward to secure funding and run Alexandria’s first Head Start.
1970s – Shaping the Future Through Effective Action
The 1970s saw the YWCA separate from the national group to become the independent Alexandria Community Y (ACY). Soon after, Campagna Kids debuted to meet community needs for quality, dependable school-based after-school care. Initially offered at three locations, the program quickly attracted hundreds of families.
1980s – Addressing Pressing Community Issues
The Reagan Years began with the purchase of our headquarters at 418 South Washington Street in Old Town Alexandria. (Learn more about the history of our building.) During this decade, we welcomed two programs that continue to this day: Wright to Read and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
In 1980, former ACY executive director Betty Wright and her late husband Frank gave the “gift of literacy” to area children by establishing Wright to Read. The one-on-one tutoring program began with three volunteers and three elementary students who were having difficulty keeping pace with their classmates. Today, thousands of children and families have benefited from the Wrights’ exceptional gift. Betty Wright continues to be an active participant in the program.
In 1989, ACY welcomed the ALIVE!-sponsored Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. RSVP worked to place people age 55 and better with volunteer opportunities that help solve community problems.
1990s – Excellence and Compassion Personified
In 1991, we mourned the passing of Elizabeth Anne Campagna. In honor of her dedication to Alexandria and as an inspiration to the community and generations to come, the ACY was renamed The Campagna Center. The spirit of Elizabeth Anne Campagna continues to lead us by example. Our work would not be possible without the kind and generous support of our members, volunteers, donors, and government, corporate, and community partners.
Today – Celebrating Nearly 70 Years of Caring
Throughout its long history, The Campagna Center has been a beacon of hope and a catalyst for community involvement. The Campagna Center continues to serve the children and families of the Alexandria community by providing services that allow children in Alexandria to arrive at school ready to learn and ensure they are academically successful at each grade level. Today, with Dr. Tammy L. Mann at the helm and more than 750 volunteers, 25 Board members, and a staff of nearly 200 ensure that Ms. Campagna’s legacy lives on in Alexandria.