Celebrating 350 Volunteers – Housing + Volunteers = Success

Clockwise from top left: Nathaniel “Pic Jones, is an eight-year volunteer resident at MonteVerde Apartments, a senior AHC apartment community in Baltimore; Sharon Showalter, a 10-year tutor, has helped several students through the college application process; Leslie Korn wears multiple volunteer hats, including food distribution and tutoring; Caroline Wolford loves making learning fun and engaging – she started volunteering as a freshman in college and is currently working on her masters in education.

Providing services where residents live is AHC’s secret sauce. Volunteers are the key ingredient.

This Volunteer Month, AHC is celebrating the nearly 350 individuals and groups who generously contribute their time and talents annually through our education and social services programs.

“Our volunteers exemplify ‘Housing + Volunteers = Success,” says Laura Jackson, Resident Services Volunteer Coordinator. “AHC is grateful to the many committed individuals and groups who are making a real difference to residents where they live. Thanks to them,  students are achieving academic success and going to college and families and seniors are participating in much-needed services like food distributions and vaccine clinics steps from their front doors.”

The majority of AHC’s volunteers work directly with youth through our multi-tiered education program. Their support is changing lives. Volunteers help build students’ literacy and math skills in our afterschool and teen programs and partner one-on-one with high school juniors and seniors to help them navigate the journey to college and/or careers.

Volunteers also provide invaluable helping hands during community activities, from supporting food distributions to creating nutritious snack bags for youth and seniors.

We are also grateful to generous individuals who live at AHC apartment communities and volunteer their time to help neighbors, including a dedicated group of seniors at MonteVerde Apartments in Baltimore who deliver food to frail neighbors, help at vaccine clinics, and help Resident Services staff provide community events.  Read more.

Making Measurable Differences

Volunteers’ efforts are making a real difference. Our elementary students’ reading is improving measurably. The number of students who are on grade level or above jumped from 25% to 35% this year. All 42 seniors in our College and Career Readiness program are graduating from high school. These determined students, working with dedicated mentors, have already earned more than $4 million in college scholarships and grants – and the amount continues to grow.

At the property level, nearly 500 families at 10 different AHC properties are getting groceries every month. Volunteers are a huge part of the food distribution programs’ success. And countless individuals and groups created more than 3,000 colorful, healthy snack bags this year as study aids for students and special treats to brighten isolated seniors’ days during the pandemic.

Celebrating Long-Time Volunteers

Some individuals volunteer year after year. Their ongoing service provides the continuity and meaningful relationships that help students immeasurably and are the hallmark of our programs. We are deeply grateful for volunteers’ dedication and commitment. As of this year, 51 people have volunteered for more than five years.

In 2022, we are honoring 10 outstanding volunteers who have reached the five- or 10-year milestone. Deep thanks to Patricia Arriagada (5 years), Colin Bracis (5 years), Alyse Gardner (5 years), Alex Hegji (5 years), Lisa Ju (5 years), Leslie Korn (5 years), Peter Pfeifer (5 years), Lauren Rosenthal (5 years), Sharon Showalter (10 years), and Caroline Wolford (5 years).

Different Perspectives; Similar Personal Rewards

This year’s steadfast volunteers come from many different perspectives and bring a variety of skills to the students they support. For some, related jobs are the connection. Alex Hegji, a five-year mentor, works for the Congressional Research Services advising Congress about student loans. She says, “Volunteering as a mentor is a way for me to work on the front end of the issue, helping students before they get college loans.”

Others are committed to education. Caroline Wolford’s volunteer experience has paralleled her interest in a teaching career. She started volunteering five years ago as a freshman on the Marymount Women’s Lacrosse team. Volunteering with AHC’s Afterschool program has been part of the team’s community service activities for years. Now finishing her master’s in education from Marymount, Caroline will be teaching in Fairfax County in the fall. She plans to continue volunteering at AHC.

Some volunteers are drawn by the opportunity to give back to the community. High school senior Lauren Rosenthal has volunteered since she was in 7th grade, following her older brothers’ footsteps. Volunteering is part of their family culture.

Leslie Korn enjoys the opportunity to help a variety of individuals. She wears several AHC volunteer hats. In addition to running the weekly food distribution program for seniors at Hunter’s Park, she tutors AHC elementary students one night and teens another.

No matter what draws individuals to AHC’s programs, the common thread among volunteers is the reward of helping others while building lasting personal relationships.

Sharon Showalter, a 10-year volunteer, started as a teen tutor and helped the same student for several years – through his high school and eventual college graduation. They still keep in touch and Sharon is planning to mentor his younger brother. She says, “I love the awesome relationships with students – learning from them about their interests and world views and sharing in their excitement when they hear back from college.”

Echoes five-year volunteer Colin Bracis. “AHC has done a fantastic job of pairing teens who need a little extra academic help with willing and able volunteers with some knowledge to share. I’ve enjoyed being a part of this community and having the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Learn More About AHC’s Volunteer Programs

Learn more about AHC’s volunteer opportunities at https://www.ahcinc.org/get-involved/volunteers/ or email volunteer@ahcinc.org. Ongoing training and support provided.

About AHC Inc

Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing that provides quality homes and education programs for low-and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,800 apartments in 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, and adults and seniors each year through onsite education and social service programs and activities. Visit the AHC website for more information.