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:

1993-1998

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.

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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 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. Students and Seniors Spread Holiday Cheer

This holiday season, AHC Inc. staff teamed up with residents of all ages to share the holiday spirit.

AHC’s After-School students created dozens of colorful holiday cards for senior citizens. The new activity allowed students to share the warmth of the season with their older neighbors at this special time of year.

“During the holidays, our students receive gifts from generous local organizations,” explained Senior Resident Services Manager Becky Koons. “This holiday card project was a perfect way to include our senior citizens, so they can also receive something special for the holidays.”

Resident Services Manager Jasmine Rose said the project helped her students think about those who are less fortunate or may not be with family during the holidays.

“They filled the cards with a lot of positive language and holiday cheer,” said Rose. Some of the fifth graders were really proud they were going to make someone’s day with the words and poems they put in the card.”

Koons believes the card-making project meant a lot to both the recipients and the students. “It’s something so simple, but the students put a lot of care into making them. Each student added their own creative touches to the cards and included a thoughtful message inside.”

While students made holiday cards, residents at AHC’s affordable apartment community for active senior citizens, Hunter’s Park, were busy working on their own special project – “Operation Christmas.”

For the second year in a row, senior residents organized a drive for children in need, filling shoe boxes with toys, personal hygiene kits, and other items. Resident Services Manager Ana Ochoa said the idea for Operation Christmas came up in an informal conversation last year, as residents wanted to band together to help children.

“They were very enthusiastic, said Ochoa.  “Our group of knitting ladies made hats and scarfs. Some of them collected a few little toys and before I knew it we packed 40 boxes!”

Hunter’s Park residents were excited to repeat the shoe-box drive this year and got more volunteers involved. Their effort paid off – this year the group produced 60 packed gift boxes for children in need.

“What amazes me is the circle of kindness around. It was just a beautiful moment for all of us,” said Ochoa.

– Andrew Karpinski

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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 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.

 

Celebrating Thanksgiving – AHC Serves Up 30+ Turkeys at Six Community Centers in Arlington

Thanksgiving-2017

November 22, 2017 — In celebration of the holiday season, AHC Inc. continued its annual tradition of hosting Thanksgiving dinners at several of its affordable housing communities in Arlington. For some residents, the Thanksgiving dinner is a preview to the one they’ll share with family on Thursday. For others, it is their main Thanksgiving celebration – a time to share big plates of food with their families and neighbors in the community.

“These events are a wonderful opportunity to build community at our properties and bring residents together,” said Resident Services Director Susan Davidson. “It’s great to experience so many different cultural flavors along with the traditional turkey dinner.”

This year, AHC hosted Thanksgiving celebrations at six community centers that offer onsite education programs and services for residents. AHC staff teamed up with dozens of volunteers to cook more than 30 turkeys, prepare side dishes, and help decorate community spaces for hundreds of residents to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast together.

At Woodbury Park Apartments, long lines of guests waited outside on Monday evening for the community center doors to open. Becky Koons, Senior Resident Services Manager, spent the day cooking mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, and stuffing. Prior to the dinner, Koons predicted they would need eight turkeys for the 300 to 400 guests they were expecting.

“I think there were one thousand people!” said ten-year-old volunteer Micah Peters. Peters, who helped hand out desserts to guests, said he would come back again next year to help. “It was cool to see kids my age. Chocolate cake was the most popular [dish].”

Marco Condor attended the Woodbury dinner with his two youngest children, Anthony and Emily. Condor and his family have lived at Woodbury Park for five years, where his children participate in AHC’s After-School Program. They are enjoying another Thanksgiving event with extended family on Thursday.

Cynthia Ma and her daughter, Christina, residents at Woodbury for 10 years, consider Monday night’s meal their main Thanksgiving dinner. They celebrate the holiday by paying it forward – volunteering at a local shelter to help prepare Thanksgiving meals.

At Harvey Hall Apartments, Resident Services Manager Jasmine Rose organized a smaller dinner of around 60 to 70 guests for AHC’s After-School Program students and their extended families.

“It’s fun for the kids to have their families come where we host the program. We keep their artwork out on display for their families to see,” said Rose. “[These dinners] are just a perfect way to bring folks together around Thanksgiving.”

At The Gates of Ballston Rinker Community Center celebration, families received a special guest appearance along with their Thanksgiving meal. The Arlington County Police Department’s First District Community Team stopped by to spend time with the young students and wish families a happy Thanksgiving. The team has become a regular visitor at AHC’s After-School Program and spent the evening with students who had prepared special napkins with notes about what they were thankful for this holiday season.

“We enjoy spending time with the kids, helping them with crafts and other activities,” said Officer Michael Keen. “It’s nice to build continuity with the students and their families.”

About a dozen volunteers helped prepare and serve Thanksgiving dishes at the Gates of Ballston event. “They really went above and beyond,” said Shardae Monroe, Resident Services Coordinator. “I think that’s what made the event so successful.”

One of the volunteers, Coral Harris, has worked with youth in AHC’s education programs for three years. She enjoyed the opportunity to visit with students and their families – and share a big batch of home-cooked macaroni and cheese. Her long-time commitment also reflects the spirit of Thanksgiving.

“A lot of people helped me along the way, and I am grateful for the opportunity to give back,” said Harris. “I feel it is necessary to do what I can.”

– Andrew Karpinski

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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 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.

 

AHC Teens Tour University of Virginia

UVA-trip

November 17, 2017 — Nearly 50 AHC students and staff members recently toured the University of Virginia. The students, mostly high school juniors and seniors, were delighted to experience the historic campus first hand.

AHC’s Teen Tutoring and College and Career  Readiness Programs provide a variety of field trips for students to help them navigate the complicated path to choosing a college or a career after high school. Each year, AHC teens visit two to three local colleges. The program is also visiting Howard University and Marymount University in the spring.

One of the highlights of the UVA trip was the student panel, which included a diverse group of students who spoke about their personal college experiences. “The panel was really helpful for our students,” explains Milenka Coronel, AHC’s College and Career Readiness Manager. “Hearing stories from students of different backgrounds and from different states allowed our students to see that college is possible for everyone.”

The UVA students also provided helpful tips on work opportunities on campus (a priority for many AHC students) and advice on choosing a college, finding scholarship dollars and filling out applications. AHC students also enjoyed learning more about the opportunity to create a unique major and the wide variety of social and extracurricular activities that are an important part of a full college experience.

Eight seniors also had an opportunity to choose and attend a class lecture or seminar. The experience was really inspiring.

One student, Dayana, was particularly excited about attending a computer programming course and brought her own laptop to follow along. After the class was over she said: “This was really helpful to see a college course, and I know I want to pursue my major even more now. It was exciting and informational.”

Photo: Rhegan Hyypio Nunez

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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 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.

 

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

Volunteers-of-the-Year-a

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.

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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 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.