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Patti Sanner & Rosemarie Harrington/Reading Specialists

AHC Faces

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Reading Specialists Help Struggling Readers Succeed

Patti Sanner and Rosemarie Harrington have helped dozens of children build literacy skills since they began working with AHC as part-time reading specialists nearly seven years ago. Each works one-on-one for about 30 minutes a week with children who have been identified as struggling readers.

Their dedication is one of the reasons AHC’s students are succeeding. Last year, all of the 28 students Patti and Rosemarie worked with improved at least a year’s worth of progress in their reading ability. Six struggling readers advanced more than a year. “If we catch the children at a young age, we can help them catch up,” explains Rosemarie. “It’s a joy to help them get over hurdles and to figure out how each child connects to reading.”

Patti believes the program’s team approach also contributes to children’s success. “It takes a village,” she says. “Everyone contributes to making learning more accessible and positive, from the managers to the volunteers. And because we work with different siblings over time, we are part of the families, too.”

Photo: Rosemarie Harrington (left) and Patti Sanner help bring the joy of reading to struggling readers.

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Riad Abdulmoniem / Volunteer

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AHC Faces

Teen Volunteer Pays It Forward

Riad is a junior in high school who volunteers with AHC’s After-School program once a week. His family’s connection to AHC’s Resident Services program began more than 15 years ago when his family arrived in Arlington from Sudan.

None of his three siblings spoke English and they found the community center at Harvey Hall to be a lifeline. “Joy Rambert (AHC Resident Services manager) and my tutors were like a second family and supported me every step,” explains Riad’s oldest brother, Abdul.

The consistent encouragement paid off. Today, Abdul has successfully graduated from medical school and is applying for residencies, his sister is pursuing a degree in dentistry and another brother is majoring in computer science at Marymount University. Riad is also exploring the idea of a medical career.

As a busy teenager, why does Riad make the time to volunteer? “Harvey Hall helps change lives,” he explains. “Volunteers helped me, my sister and my brothers get ahead. Now it’s time for me to repay the favor and pay it forward.”

Photo: Riad enjoys volunteering with AHC’s Resident Services program, which has helped his family succeed for more than 15 years. (Photo: Brian Stanton)

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Tutor’s Dedication + Student’s Determination = Success

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Israel Weldeslassie only began speaking English about a year ago when he moved to Arlington from Eritrea. Despite having to learn a new language and reading at about a first grade level, the 7th grader is making amazing progress and is enthusiastically optimistic about his new life.  Much of his success is due to his AHC tutor, Steven Rentz.

The pair has formed a fast friendship. Steven works with Israel twice a week through AHC’s Teen Tutoring program and then meets with him for another two hours on Saturday.  “Steven is making a huge difference to Israel’s progress,” said Julie Korona, AHC’s Resident Services Manager. “He is outstanding!”

“Volunteering is in my blood,” explained Steven, an instructional technology specialist at the National Cathedral School. “I chose AHC’s program because it’s small and everyone can interact and get involved. I really like the opportunity to work one on one.”

Israel is catching on quickly. He is gobbling up books like Curious George and clearly enjoys the nuances of the English language. He has big ambitions and would like to be an engineer and build houses when he grows up. His determination along with Steven’s dedication will undoubtedly help make that dream come true.

 Photo: Israel and his tutor Steven Rentz have formed a fast friendship.

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Volunteers Create Scholarship for AHC Students

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Long-time (11 years!) volunteers Joanna Miller and Roger Brown have created a scholarship exclusively for AHC students in 2014. They presented the first-ever merit scholarship  to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s education programs since 2nd grade. Sivia is now attending the University of Mary Washington.

The scholarship fund, which is managed by the Arlington Community Foundation, provides $2,000 a year for four years to a student in AHC’s educational program. “We felt like we wanted to do something else to help the students as they reach this milestone and move on to the next stage of their lives,” said Miller.

Brown and Miller hope others will contribute to the fund to provide additional scholarships in the years ahead. For more information, contact the Arlington Community Foundation at 703-243-4785.

Photo: Joanna Miller and Roger Brown presented the first-ever AHC Inc. scholarship to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s programs since 2nd grade. 

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Affordable Housing for an Aging America

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Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn sixty five years old.  In Arlington, one in five residents will be 60 or older by 2020.  As the number of senior citizens grows, affordable living opportunities for older Americans are becoming an increasing need.

AHC currently operates three apartment communities for senior citizens. All provide programs and staff to help residents age in place successfully.

 Hunter’s Park, in Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood, opened in 2005 with 74 one-bedroom apartments. The property includes welcoming common areas, including a living room with fireplace, library and rooftop patio. Activities abound, including exercise classes, book club, gardening workshops and special birthday celebrations. The vibrant environment helps keep seniors active and engaged.

MonteVerde Apartments, in Baltimore, serves 301 senior citizens and physically disabled individuals. AHC purchased and completely renovated the property in 2008. Today, AHC’s Resident Services staff help connect residents with the local services they need to live independently and improve their quality of life.  The property provides a shuttle service to local retailers, a library, arts and crafts room and game room lounges, nutrition and wellness programs.

 Charter House, in Silver Spring, MD, has 212 apartments for individuals aged 55 and older. Located near the Silver Spring Metro station, the 14-story building is within walking distance of lots of shops and activities. AHC assumed management responsibilities in mid-2014 and is working on building stimulating programs and activities with such partners as the Fenwick Foundation, which provides a wide variety of social programs and field trips for AHC’s senior citizens at other properties.

 Photo: AHC operates three communities for aging Americans.