AHC Celebrates 20 High School Grads – All First in Family to Attend College

In early June, AHC Inc. honored 20 high school graduates during a special celebration with families, mentors, education leaders, and much applause. School Board member Tannia Talento was the keynote speaker.

AHC’s Class of 2018’s achievements are remarkable. Perhaps most life-changing, ALL of the students are the first in their families to attend college.

Their future hopes and dreams are wide-ranging, including cyber security, film and media studies, special education, mechanical engineering, criminal justice, auto mechanics, architecture, social work, animation, civil engineering, pre-med, international relations and psychology.

Together, the group earned more than $613,000 in scholarships. Two students received full-tuition scholarships. Flor Caceres is attending Lafayette College through the POSSE Foundation. And, Ruth Mengesha is going to James Madison University through the Centennial Scholars Program.

The students are participants in AHC’s College & Career Readiness Program, a component of AHC’s overall education initiative that provides after-school, teen, and summer camp programs in the affordable apartment communities where students live. Many of the graduates have grown up in AHC’s programs. Three of this year’s class started in Kindergarten.

Lydia Abraha, who has participated in AHC’s programs since she was six, believes the program has helped her become who she is today. “I’ve built many relationships with staff members and tutors that have influenced my life,” says Abraha. “I can’t imagine my life without the memories and positive impact AHC has provided me.” A dedicated student, Abraha was accepted into eight colleges. She chose Virginia Tech because she received the Virginia Tech Inclusive Student Excellence Scholarship and plans to study mechanical engineering.

Along with students’ hard work, the College and Career Planning program succeeds thanks to mentors who work one-on-one with students throughout their senior year. Volunteers help students keep up their grades and navigate college and scholarship applications. Their commitment produces real results. This year, students applied to 93 colleges and universities and were accepted into 65.

Over the years, many of the students and mentors have developed lasting relationships. “We will definitely stay in touch,” said Undrakh Tsend, who is attending the College of William and Mary, and has worked with tutor Lisa Martin since 8th grade. “She is my mentor and my best friend, too,” said Tsend.

Mentor Alex Payne also hopes to keep in touch with Victor Orellana, who is enrolled in the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Pathways Program. “The mentoring program has been rewarding and productive for both of us,” says Payne. “We’ll definitely keep in touch and I hope he keeps me updated when he registers for classes.” Orellana, who hopes to be a graphic designer or animator, agrees. “I hope we stay friends forever,” he says.

AHC’s College & Career Readiness Program is part of AHC’s comprehensive commitment to “Housing + Education = Success.” The organization’s goal is to provide educational opportunities and social services to help individuals and families build stable lives, put down roots and become strong community members.

Many thanks to Project Discovery Virginia and Arlington Public Schools for their support of our students and our programs.

AHC Class of 2018 Students

Umniya Abdu (Virginia Commonwealth University), Lydia Abraha (Virginia Tech), Dayana Albarado (George Mason University), Sharon Albarado (George Mason University), Flor Caceres (Lafayette College), Flavia Dominguez (George Mason University), Kiana Flores (Northern Virginia Community College), Christopher Lozano (Northern Virginia Community College), Katelyn Ly (James Madison University), Ruth Mengesha (James Madison University), Carlos Orellana (Northern Virginia Community College), Victor Orellana (Northern Virginia Community College), Bibho Prasai (Northern Virginia Community College), Daniel Rodriguez (Northern Virginia Community College), Bryan Sanchez (Northern Virginia Community College), Ainood Soliman (George Mason University), Carlos Soliz (Northern Virginia Community College), Undrakh Tsend (College of William and Mary), Minjin Uranbayar (James Madison University) and Katerin Villegas (Northern Virginia Community College).

2017/2018 Mentors

Tim Bellaire, Jim Burridge, Terry Burridge, Rachel Cosgray, Christina Ann Dietrich, Jean Falvey, Evan Heit, Cindy Kaang, Alexandra Lucas, Christine Mader, Lisa Martin, Katie Masterson, Judy Palmore, Alex Payne, Jonathan Roose, Kathryn Sheehan, Sharon Showalter, David Slater, Ann Symonds, Jennifer Ukegbu, Gary Usrey and Maria Woolverton.

Photos from the graduation celebration.

For volunteer opportunities, visit https://www.ahcinc.org/get-involved/volunteers/

Photo: From left to right: Flor Caceres (Lafayette College), Bibho Prasai (Northern Virginia Community College) and Undrakh Tsend (College of William and Mary) participated in AHC’s education programs at Woodbury Park/Frederick Community Center.


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 50+ properties in Virginia,  Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.


AHC Inc. Resident Services Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago, AHC’s Resident Services program began with a small seed of an idea – children at loose ends needed something to do. In 1993, a part-time staff member started providing some basic activities at Woodbury Park Apartments. Today, the program has blossomed to full-time staff at six community centers in Arlington and three in Baltimore.

Over the years, AHC’s Resident Services has grown into much more than just a haven for youngsters; it has become a supportive education program that nurtures children from elementary through high school, and also provides opportunities for parents and senior citizens.

We will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of AHC’s Resident Services programs throughout 2018 with stories about students who have grown up in the program and long-time volunteers who have helped so many succeed.

Key milestones include:


During Resident Services’ first five years, the program expanded to two apartment communities. The fledgling initiative established partnerships with local community organizations, including the Community Outreach Program and REEP, Arlington’s primary English as a Second Language program for adults. Staff members started a back-to-school drive to help students start the school year well prepared.

1999 – 2004

New grants helped the program expand its reach, including the start of a new Summer Camp program. Three more community centers began offering programs. The first on-site preschool opened and we initiated our partnership with local food assistance programs.

2005 – 2010

New multi-year grants helped establish more comprehensive youth programs. Literacy became the primary focus of the After-School Program. The Teen Tutoring Program expanded to help youth more successfully access and apply to college. We started programs for active seniors and launched Resident Services in several Baltimore communities.

2011 – 2015

Thanks to expanded programming, Resident Services reached 3,000 residents each year in Virginia and Maryland. We partnered successfully with more than 50 community organizations annually. We expanded our reach and established our first onsite partnership in Alexandria, VA, and initiated programs at a senior property in Silver Spring.

2016 – present

Our College and Career Readiness Program launched to serve high school juniors and seniors. AHC high school seniors earned more than $500,000 in scholarships. A social services component was added to our service, including money management education opportunities and programs to help families avoid eviction and keep their homes. Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) presented the Community Partner Award to AHC. Our partnerships with on-site schools continued to grow: A new YMCA After-School program started at The Shelton and our fourth Full Circle Montessori preschool program opened at The Shell. We are proud – and grateful – to work with approximately 300 volunteers each year.

Photo: Harvey Hall was one of the first AHC apartment communities to provide Resident Services programs 25 years ago.


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 50+ properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.



AHC Inc. Honors Marymount Women’s Lacrosse Team and Three Arlington Residents as Volunteers of the Year


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

For questions and volunteer information, please email Cindy Rozon at rozon@ahcinc.org or click here to volunteer now!

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.



Share Your Career Experience and Inspire a Teen


AHC Inc.’s College and Career Readiness Program guides high school juniors and seniors through the complicated college and career search process. The program really works.

So far, ALL of the seniors in our program have graduated from high school and most have gone to college – often the first in their family to achieve this milestone.

Along with academic help, we also try to inspire our teens by exposing them to a variety of professions and job experiences.

There are two ways local professionals can get involved:

  • Participate in a career panel and discuss your job, how you got there and what you like about it.
  • Provide a shadowing experience so a teen can learn more about a specific career through their own eyes – and yours.

We are looking for more professionals to share their experience and hope you can join us. We are putting together our 2018 calendar now.

Please email Milenka Coronel if you’d like to participate or learn more. Include your:

  • Name
  • Employer
  • Type of business/organization
  • Your title
  • What you do
  • Email address (to keep you posted on upcoming opportunities)



Tutors Build Relationships and Futures

AHC Faces


AHC’s Teen Tutoring program has been pairing volunteers with middle and high school students for more than 20 years. The program has helped over 100 youth successfully graduate from high school and generated countless long-lasting relationships.

Recently AHC recognized volunteers who have worked with our students for five years or more. The common thread that keeps them coming back: the rewarding connections with the students.

One of these volunteers, Sharon, was paired with a very young middle school student, Bibho, after she started volunteering. Today he is a junior in high school. “I have literally watched him grow up and we have become good friends,” says Sharon. “He has grown from a struggling student into a confident young man with improved grades and a willingness to try new things. I am very proud of him!”

Bibho also values their relationship. “I’ve learned new perspectives about college and jobs, and she also helped me catch up in math,” he says. “I enjoy getting my homework done and also learning more about life.”

The connection between tutors and students goes way beyond academics. “The program encourages tutors to work with the same student week after week, allowing us to get to know our student’s strengths and weaknesses and to build a trusting relationship,” explains Sharon. That trust, along with the sharing of different perspectives and experiences, is the foundation for the program’s – and the students’ – long-term success.

Photo: Sharon (left) has developed a rewarding connection with Bibho during the five years they have worked together in AHC’s Teen Tutoring program. The opportunity has been a positive experience for them both.