eliza berkon is a journalist and musician based in washington d.c. 

2018 Northern Virginian of the Year: Ann Matikan

About 20 years ago, a basement overhaul inspired Ann Matikan to host a small yard sale. Without much fanfare, she set out her surplus items on a card table out front and donated the proceeds to the nonprofit next door, a shelter for women and families.

That Lilliputian effort evolved into an all-day event that now spans the block. Roughly 40 religious organizations will be donating goods or loaning tables to this year’s June 9 sale, an annual fundraiser for ALIVE! (ALexandrians InVolved Ecumenically) House. The shelter, founded in 1972, provides its residents a temporary home while assisting them with career guidance, parenting skills and housing help.

Though Matikan speaks humbly and says she grew up without a pronounced sense of altruism, she has a lengthy history of charitable work. The Connecticut native joined an international foundation in 1992 that assisted nonprofits, an experience she credits for her interest in community service.

“My job was to work on local critical needs, so I visited a lot of homeless shelters and places that entertained children after school,” she says.

Today, Matikan is the administrator of a small family foundation in D.C. and volunteers with a library program and The Twig, a local thrift shop that donates funds to Inova Alexandria Hospital. In 2017, Innovation Health named her a Hometown Hero for her service.

To give back to the community, Matikan notes that a full-time commitment isn’t a requirement.

“A simple way is to volunteer at a soup kitchen or at some place like the Red Cross that always needs people to sort through donations. It can be a one-time thing, or it can be once a week,” she says.

“There’s a lot to do.”

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