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2017 Summer Camp Focuses on Creativity

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The AHC Summer Camp provides fun, outdoor exercise and field trips while maintaining students’ literacy and math skills learned during the school year. The 2017 theme is “Creating”, which will give students the opportunity to be artists, inventors and scientists while stretching their imaginations.

The combination of fun and learning really works. More than 9o% of the students tested during last year’s camp showed no loss or some gain in their reading level. And a full quarter of campers returned to school in September reading at a higher level than in June.

Research shows that low-income students can lose more than two months of reading and math skills during the summer. AHC’s program is changing that equation.

As Patti, one of AHC’s Reading Specialists, says: “The Summer Camp Program provides experiences which bridge the end of the school year to the beginning of the next school year. Without making new discoveries and connecting with community, many children start all over again when the school year arrives.”

A stable community and year-round help with education is changing AHC students’ lives. Volunteers and/or donations are most welcome to help support the program.

Click here to volunteer.

Click here to donate.

 

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AHC Inc. Celebrates 40th Anniversary

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More than 300 supporters joined AHC Inc. to celebrate its 40th Anniversary this fall. The event highlighted the organization’s growth and achievements, honored five new Housing Hall of Fame members, celebrated student winners who submitted winning essays and art work, and elected AHC Board members. “Our 40th Anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate all those who have helped AHC over the years – our supporters, donors, volunteers, community partners and advocates – preserve and build affordable, stable homes for those in most need, ” said Walter D. Webdale, AHC Inc. President and CEO. “We’re thrilled to direct the event proceeds to our Resident Services program, which serves more than 2,000 youth, senior citizens and families each year.”

Since its founding in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,000 quality affordable apartments; touched thousands of children, families and senior citizens through its Resident Services programs; and expanded beyond its Arlington roots to also serve communities in Alexandria, Fairfax, Montgomery County, Baltimore and Washington, DC. AHC Milestones.

To commemorate the event, AHC named four individuals and an organization to its Housing Hall of Fame. Founded in 2001, AHC’s Housing Hall of Fame honors individuals and organizations for their vision, dedication and advocacy on behalf of affordable housing.

The 2016 honorees include Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Arlington; Patricia McGrady, decades-long affordable housing activist and volunteer; Rick Nelson, former Director of Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs; J. Walter Tejada, former Arlington County Board member; and Harkins Builders, long-time AHC Inc. business partner and supporter.

“AHC is proud to celebrate such an exemplary group of visionaries and supporters,” said Justin Oliver, AHC Board Chair. “It truly takes a village to provide affordable housing. Our honorees represent the community partners, volunteers, local government, elected officials, and business partners that are all critical to bringing affordable housing to life. Your commitment is what enables AHC to successfully continue building homes and futures. We are truly grateful for your support and honored to include you in our Housing Hall of Fame.”

The event also highlighted six students who submitted winning essays and artwork based on the themes of “How AHC’s Community Centers Affected My Life” and “The Place I Call Home.”

“The youngsters who live in AHC’s communities are the heart and soul of our programs,” explained Ginger Briggs Brown, former AHC Inc. Board member, who presented the children’s awards. “It is their futures we are working so hard to strengthen. Tonight we applaud their creative achievements.”

The Essay Contest winners include Jennifer Arevalo (First Place), Sara Berhe (Second Place) and Jennifer Rivera (Third Place). Art Contest winners are: Michelle Orellana (First Place), Angel Barrera (Second Place) and Loren Bonilla (Third Place). Read more. 

During the event, attendees also re-elected four AHC Board members, David Barsky, Jason Dalley, Justin Oliver and John Snyder. C.C. Jenkins, a long-time AHC supporter and prior Board member, was elected to return to the Board. Gladis Bourdouane, who joined the AHC Board in 2011, retired from the Board and was celebrated for her service and commitment. Read more. 

Read more stories, stats and history from AHC’s 40th Anniversary.

Photo: AHC Inc. celebrates 2016 Housing Hall of Fame honorees at 40th Anniversary Celebration. Front row, left to right:  Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr.; Patricia McGrady; J. Walter Tejada; and Rick Nelson. Back row, left to right: Walter D. Webdale, AHC Inc. President and CEO; Mike Ebrahimi, Harkins Builders; Dick Lombardo, Harkins Builders; Mike Mallow, Harkins Builders; Gary Garofalo, Harkins Builders; and Justin Oliver, AHC Inc. Board Chair. 

 

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AHC Partners With Community to Open Little Free Library

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(October 27, 2015) – Arlington’s newest Little Free Library opened today at 1723 North Veitch Street. The new mini library, which offers free books to share from a free-standing wooden box, is the result of a collaboration between a community member and a local nonprofit affordable housing organization, AHC Inc.

“Colonial Village West has been a great neighbor. I thought a Little Free Library would be a great way to continue to build our community while supporting literacy and love of books,” explains Lynn Borton, the library’s steward and founder. “We are hoping to engage students attending Key, Arlington Science Focus School, as well as middle and high schoolers, Lyon Village residents, families living in AHC’s Colonial Village West apartments and the many passersby on our busy street. It’s already brought wonderful connectivity – everyone is taking part. The school crossing guard has been handing out fliers and stickers and someone put some donated books in the library even before we opened!”

The neighborhood-sponsored, curbside libraries encourage community members to “take a book, return a book.” Contributions can be any kind of book — from children’s books to cookbooks to novels.

“We are delighted to partner with Lynn Borton to share the joy of reading,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “Literacy is one of the top goals of our education program and we love the idea of encouraging community members to find a book and then leave another one for someone else to enjoy.”

Little Free Libraries started in 2009 in Wisconsin when Todd Bol built a small model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. Today, there are more than 32,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, bringing curbside literacy home and sharing more than one million books annually.

In the last several years, at least 20 Little Free Libraries have popped up around Arlington. Although many have been installed by individuals in their front yards, several have also been created as Girl Scout projects or school-based programs.

For more information on starting your own Little Free Library, contact the Arlington Public Library, which provides kits, instructions and registration materials.

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Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing in the mid-Atlantic region that provides quality homes and education programs for low- and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 6,500 apartment units in 50 properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 2,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

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Honoring Volunteers of the Year

volunteer-of-the-year-honoreesAHC is deeply grateful to the volunteers who make such a difference to our students. This fall we celebrated our Volunteers of the Year and honored one individual (or group) from each of our primary groups of volunteers – After-School, Teen Tutoring and Student Volunteers.

“AHC is so fortunate to have hundreds of wonderful volunteers who work one-on-one with students who benefit greatly from their close attention and encouragement,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “Each of our Volunteers of the Year have gone above and beyond. Their commitment and enthusiasm is inspiring and has made such a difference to students’ overall success.”

AHC’s 2015 honorees are:

After-School Volunteer: Marilyn Jenkinson

Marilyn Jenkinson volunteered at Woodbury Park/Frederick community center and added a special spark to the curriculum by sharing her personal interests. An avid traveler, she brought students treasures from her trips like Florida oranges, and created her own lesson plan to teach students how to read maps. She developed a scavenger hunt and taught the students how to use rulers to find their schools and other local landmarks.  She thoroughly enjoyed the students’ enthusiasm and said she “wished every child in Arlington could have the opportunity to experience an after-school program like AHC’s.”

Student Volunteer: Talia Farrell-Rosen

Talia Farrell-Rosen, a high school senior, volunteered weekly at Gates of Ballston during the school year, helping with activities and homework. “Talia was consistently patient and understanding and has been a wonderful addition to our volunteering team,” said Lotus Chen, AHC Resident Services Manager. Talia also shared a distinctive skill with the students – dancing. As a competitive dancer, she taught the children about different types of dance, the types of shoes and costumes they wear, as well as stretches and dances. She also gave them the opportunity to free-dance to pop music, which they loved.

Teen Tutoring Volunteers: Team Estephani – Anne Blacksten, Jim and Terry Burridge and Carl Dohrman

Estephani Santander graduated from high school last spring with multiple scholarships and credits her “dream team” of tutors for much of her success. Estephani’s group of dedicated tutors includes Anne Blacksten, who has worked with Estephani since 6th grade; Jim and Terry Burridge, who tutored and mentored Estephani throughout her high school career; and Carl Dohrman, the math guru of the group. The tutors in “Team Estephani” worked together to build consistency and maximize their support for Estephani. “I think the students benefit a lot from so much one-on-one assistance from caring, high-quality tutors,” says Mr. Dohrman. The consistency helps to build relationships between volunteers and students, which can be key to making a difference in the student’s attitudes towards school.”

Photo caption: From left to right: Patti Sanner, AHC Reading Specialist; Talia Farrell-Rosen, volunteer; Terry Burridge, volunteer; Carl Dohrman, volunteer; Jim Burridge, volunteer; Becky Koons, AHC Resident Services Manager; Anne Blacksten, volunteer; Elizabeth Bonner, former AHC Resident Services Manager; and Marilyn Jenkinson, volunteer.   

 

 

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Banner Year for AHC Students

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(August 15, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – AHC students had a banner year in all three of our education programs –  Teen Tutoring, After-School for elementary students and Summer Camp.

In the Teen Tutoring program, all nine of the seniors  graduated from high school and, impressively, they are all planning to go to college. Together, they earned nearly $50,000 in scholarships and grants. This marks the seventh year in a row that all of the seniors in AHC’s Teen Program successfully graduated from high school. To date, AHC has helped nearly 70 teens graduate from high school.

Many achieved this milestone while holding down jobs, overseeing younger siblings, or becoming proficient in English, a language not always spoken at home. Their hopes and dreams are impressive. Students’ goals include studying forensic science, engineering, behavioral science, medicine, and teaching. “We are so proud of all of teens,” said Jennifer Endo, AHC’s Director of Resident Services. “It really does take a village; and our village of wonderful volunteers, mentors, staff and teachers have all played a part in helping these young people reach their potential.”

The Teen Program is designed to help middle and high school students stay in school and maximize their options after high school. The program includes one-on-one tutoring, mentoring, college visits, SAT test prep, help with scholarship and financial aid applications, and a variety of enriching experiences. Sixty-four youth participated in the Teen Program during the 2014/2015 school year.

AHC’s After-School Program, which focuses on building elementary students’ literacy skills, included 115 youth in 2014/2015. Students made impressive strides. Nearly all (96%) of the students who were assessed at the beginning and end of the year improved their reading level by at least one full grade and/or are reading at or above grade level.

To help ensure struggling readers don’t get left behind, AHC employs two reading specialists to work one-on-one for 30 minutes each week with students who are not reading at grade level. The individualized program  includes games and activities that build fluency and comprehension. The personalized approach has been a real success. This year, our specialists worked with 28 struggling readers. Thanks to their help, all of the students made at least a year’s worth of progress, and six children advanced more than a year.

Students in AHC’s Summer Camp program also made strides. Research shows that low-income students can lose more than two months of reading and math skills during the summer. AHC’s Summer Camp, which combines learning and fun, aims to prevent that learning loss. The six-week program is making a difference.

During the 2014 camp, 92% of the students tested showed no loss or some gain in reading levels and 83% maintained math skills. This year’s theme, Careers in the Arts, combines technology and performance opportunities with creative activities, lots of learning  and cultural experiences like field trips.

Along with students’ hard work, our hundreds of volunteers are integral to the program’s success. We are grateful to the many volunteers and more than 30 community partners who generously give their time and effort. Last year, 266 volunteers worked 4,537 hours with our students!

Two long-time tutors are making a particularly generous impact on our students. In 2013, Joanna Miller and Roger Brown started a four-year scholarship exclusively for AHC Teen Tutoring participants. This year’s scholarship was awarded to Estefani Santander. The Wakefield graduate, who has been in AHC’s education program for 10 years, hopes to attend Northern Virginia Community College to study education. For more information on how to contribute to the Joy Rambert AHC Inc. scholarship to benefit our hard-working graduates, visit the Arlington Community Foundation website.

For more details on AHC’s education programs and student activities, click here for the Resident Services 2014-2015 Report Card.

Photo left to right: Angel Lara, center, with AHC staff members Elizabeth Bonner (left) and Triny Lemus (right) has been in AHC’s education programs since 3rd grade. Angel graduated in 2015 and is planning to attend Northern Virginia Community College to study Photography and Forensic Science.