October 19, 2017 – AHC Inc. celebrated four outstanding Volunteers of the Year, including the Marymount University Women’s Lacrosse Team and three Arlington residents, at its recent Annual Meeting. AHC develops and preserves affordable housing and provides education programs for residents who live in its apartment communities. Each of the Volunteers of the Year have made a tremendous impact on students in the non-profit’s Resident Services education programs in Arlington.
For nearly 25 years, AHC’s Resident Services programs have provided the tools and skills residents need to build successful lives. Today the initiative has grown to an annual $2 million investment in our programs, including our multi-pronged education initiative that nurtures children from Kindergarten through high school. The comprehensive approach works. To date, all the seniors in AHC’s education program have graduated from high school and nearly all have gone on to college.
“AHC believes housing plus education equals success. Along with stable and affordable homes, our education programs provide the building blocks to help our residents create successful lives for themselves and the community,” said Walter D. Webdale, President and CEO. “Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our life-changing programs and we are truly grateful for their dedication and commitment.”
AHC celebrated the Marymount University Women’s Lacrosse Team along with volunteers in each component of AHC’s comprehensive education program: Jamie Usrey, After-School Program Volunteer; Tim Bellaire, Teen Tutoring Volunteer; and Marjorie Macieira, College and Career Readiness Volunteer.
Marymount University Women’s Lacrosse Team – Volunteer Group of the Year
Kate Athing, the Marymount University Women’s Lacrosse Team Coach, connected the team to AHC’s program because she believes “consistent, local service is meaningful for both our school athletes and the community.” The team has volunteered once a week for three years in the After-School Program at AHC’s Woodbury Park community center.
The consistent partnership has been rewarding for all involved. The team enjoys working one-on-one with the same student each week and developing close relationships. And the youth look forward to the team visiting them each week and having a college-aged volunteer who is there just for them. Coach Kate Athing says, “A lot of us have buddies who are related. It adds to the family atmosphere we have found at Woodbury Park. They’ve definitely welcomed us into the family.”
AHC Senior Resident Services Manager Becky Koons applauds the successful partnership, “We appreciate all that Kate and the team have done for our students. I don’t think any of us realized three years ago how impactful this relationship would be on our students and the program. It’s not just about the academic piece (which is great!); they are our buddies, and we are their biggest fans!
Coach Kate Athing and Junior Midfielder Bridgette Stacom accepted the award at the event. Both Athing and Stacom have volunteered for three years.
Jamie Usrey – After-School Program Volunteer of the Year
AHC’s After-School Program lays the groundwork for elementary students’ success. For more than 10 years, building literacy skills has been the program’s top priority. Reading on grade level is critical to students’ ability to thrive in school and beyond.
Jamie Usrey, a three-year volunteer, generously devotes two to three afternoons each week to work one-on-one with first and second graders who are behind in their reading. As a retired Reading Recovery Teacher from Arlington Public Schools, her experience is invaluable. Along with her extensive experience, Jamie also brings boundless energy and enthusiasm to the program.
“Thanks to Jamie’s dedication and commitment, struggling readers are making outstanding strides toward reading on grade level,” says Lotus Chen, AHC Resident Services Manager. “Because of their improvements, these students are better able to succeed in school and support their younger siblings as well.”
Tim Bellaire – Teen Tutoring Volunteer of the Year
AHC’s Teen Tutoring helps middle and high school students stay in school and maximize their academic skills. Tutors help youth with homework and also become mentors and sounding boards.
Tim Bellaire exemplifies why this program works so well. His natural warmth and sense of humor make teens feel comfortable and connected. The teens voted Mr. Tim as being “most likely to know or be able to find the answer to anything.” Tim has volunteered for more than two years. By sharing his own experiences of putting himself through school, earning a mechanical engineering degree, and working for the FBI for 25 years, he helps students realize that hard work and persistence can pay off.
As Grace Park, Senior Resident Services Manager, explains, “Since one student worked with Mr. Tim in both 7th and 8th grade, we have seen a huge difference in his motivation, work ethic, and overall attitude toward his schoolwork and ability to advocate for himself.”
Tim has found volunteering to be a two-way street. He says, “I get as much (or more) out of the volunteering experience as the young adults gain from me. As the saying goes, the more you give, the more you receive.”
Marjorie Macieira – College and Career Readiness Volunteer of the Year
A new component in AHC’s education initiative, the College and Career Readiness Program pairs high school seniors with adult mentors for a full year. The mentors help students every step of the way through the complicated college and career process, including applications, essays and financial aid. The hard work pays off. All of last year’s 15 seniors are now freshmen in college. The mentors were an integral part of this remarkable achievement.
Marjorie Macieira approached the program with boundless energy and commitment. She regularly goes above and beyond. Not only did she help her high school senior go through the whole college process, she also attended her school counselor meetings, choir recitals, scholarship ceremonies and graduation.
One of Marjorie’s proudest moments was when her student won 2nd place in an essay competition. The student nearly didn’t participate and Marjorie encouraged her to keep going. They were both thrilled with the successful outcome.
Marjorie’s enthusiasm is driven by the close relationship she developed with her teen. “I found out that the program is more than just helping with homework,” says Marjorie. “You connect with a young person and become important in their life. You both learn about friendship, trust and being there for each other.”
To Learn More About Volunteering
Photo from left to right: Jamie Usrey, After-School Program Volunteer; Marjorie Macieira, College and Career Readiness Volunteer; Tim Bellaire, Teen Tutoring Volunteer; Marymount University Women’s Lacrosse Team Coach Kate Athing, and Bridgette Stacom, Marymount University Lacrosse Team member.
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 7,000 apartment units in 53 properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 2,500 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.