Students Announce College Choices on AHC’s Signing Day

Photos of students

(Front row, left to right) Carla Bacerra, Karen Gonzales Cifuentes, Abigia Mulugeta, Iyar Soliman. Sara Berhe Abraha, Margot Rodriguez, Alishaba Hayat, Anwar Elgattari (Back row, left to right) Claudia Andrade, Nichole Escobar, Betel Bereket, Laetitia Noutcha, Amelia Castro, Xiomara Amaya, Dayana Cespedes, Anand Tselmeg, Nicolas Lopez, Ayman Adam, Hermon Gebreezgi, Fraol Gurmu

Students in AHC Inc.’s College and Career Readiness (CCR) program on May 6 gathered for college signing day – where they announced their college plans and donned new t-shirts for their chosen colleges.

This year, the CCR program included 42 high school seniors from lower income homes. And these remarkable students earned more than $6.5 Million in scholarships and grants. Most of the students are the first generation in their family to reach this educational milestone.

Since its official launch in 2016, CCR has served 169 students. Tutors and mentors, key players in the program, also joined the celebration of achievement.

For CCR Manager Gabriela Segovia, it was also a special day. “This is the first class of seniors I have supported from beginning to end,” she commented. “You are all standing here, because 30 years ago, AHC made a commitment to its residents by providing them with services to help them succeed, and what better way to do this than to increase access to education.”

About Some of the Students

Joel Escobar is attending the University of Rochester this fall. Joel is a Posse Scholar and received a full ride to the University of Rochester. He is planning to study Education Policy, and his goal is to become a teacher. Ultimately, Joel hopes to take his teaching experience to work for the school board and apply his expertise to enact change. Joel also hopes to inspire his little brother in middle school. “I want to share my experience with my family. I’m excited to be the first person in our family to go to college, but I don’t want to be the only one.”

Alishaba Hayat, a Yorktown High School student, is planning to study engineering at the University of Virginia in the coming year. She joined the CCR program the summer before her junior year. “I didn’t know anything about FAFSA or applying to college. The program gave me insight into the whole process, a year in advance, so when it came to apply, I was ready,” said Alishaba.

Sara Abraha has lived nearly all her life in Arlington and is heading across the country to attend Pomona in the fall, majoring in sociology. Throughout high school, she’s been active with Key Club and Mentor Connect, and Generation Ratify, a youth-led group that advocates for ratifying the equal rights amendment. “I want to use what I learn to help others – especially people in marginalized communities,” says Sara. Her older sister was also in CCR. “[CCR] helped me navigate some of the confusing areas of applying for schools and looked out for opportunities regarding my interests. They had workshops on things like FAFSA that were really helpful,” says Sara.”

Karen Cifuentes attends Washington Liberty High School and received a full ride to attend Carnegie Mellon University this fall. She’s planning a career in the tech field, and her dream is to represent Latina women in STEM and inspire other young Latina women. “I am majoring in information systems and am excited to focus on my passion. Karen joined CCR early in her junior year. “As a first-gen student, I didn’t have my parents to rely on, so I had to look for outside resources, and CCR made it easy to find those resources.”

About the College and Career Readiness Program

CCR provides students living in AHC’s affordable apartment communities with the tools and support to successfully graduate from high school and go to college or develop a career path. High school juniors and seniors work one-on-one with a mentor who helps them navigate the challenges of applying for financial support, scholarships, and identifying educational and career options.

Where They’re Headed This Fall

  • Virginia Commonwealth Univ.
  • George Mason Univ.
  • of Virginia
  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • S. Marines
  • Notre Dame
  • Of Rochester
  • Marymount Univ.
  • Carnegie Mellon
  • James Madison Univ.
  • Virginia Tech
  • Pomona College
  • Yale
  • Gap Year

Interested in Mentoring or Tutoring?

Contact Laura Jackson at volunteer@ahcinc.org.

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.

MonteVerde Apartments Celebrates Volunteer Heroes

MonteVerde Apartments celebrated volunteer heroes during Volunteer Month. Rear left to right: Willie Warren, Willie Roberts, Louis Woolridge, Nathaniel “Pic” Jones, and Willie Hanna. Front left to right: Gregory Pendleton and Annette “Peanut” Abrams. Not pictured: Calvin Warren.

Pre-pandemic, Friday afternoons at MonteVerde Apartments meant Club Mount – a lively community gathering with DJ Willie Warren spinning tunes and Annette “Peanut” Abrams sharing home-made dishes. Residents and staff alike looked forward to the weekly celebrations – singing, dancing, and catching up on grandchildren, family, and mutual Baltimore experiences. Other regular social events included Sunday football, Bingo, exercise classes, and art workshops.

Once the pandemic hit, all activities came to an abrupt halt. The reduced social interaction and isolation were particularly tough for the MonteVerde community, which provides 301 affordable apartments for seniors in Baltimore’s Park Heights neighborhood.

Enter a group of volunteer heroes. As everything shut down, a committed group of residents jumped into action to help support residents and ensure an ongoing sense of community. They delivered meals to residents’ doors, helped with monthly food distributions, checked on frail and elderly neighbors, assisted with vaccine clinics, and basically pitched in whenever anything was needed. Many were already long-time volunteers at the property and boosted their efforts as needs grew during the pandemic.

In April, during Volunteer Appreciation Month, MonteVerde’s Resident Services staff celebrated these heroes – eight resolute residents whose long-time volunteer efforts have made a significant difference to the community. None show any signs of slowing down their volunteerism – even as the pandemic seems to be ebbing. “This is my home and I like staying busy,” says “Peanut” Abrams.

“We truly appreciate these wonderful volunteers,” said Latrice Goode, Senior Resident Services Manager. “They continue to help residents in so many ways and really foster a sense of family here at MonteVerde.”

 MonteVerde’s volunteer heroes include:

  • Annette “Peanut” Abrams has lived at MonteVerde for eight years. She volunteers in multiple ways, including regularly picking up trash around the building. A proud great grandmother of eight, she also enjoys sewing and spending time with family.
  • Willie Hanna has lived at MonteVerde for six years and has become the face of the Art with a Heart (AWAH) program. A self-taught artist, Mr. Hanna works closely with AWAH volunteers. His artwork (along with other residents’) artwork is featured in the community room – another way of bringing neighbors together.
  • Nathanial “Pic” Jones has lived at MonteVerde for eight years, and has volunteered from the day he moved in. Mr. Jones volunteers in lots of ways, including helping with food distributions, vaccine clinics, resident events, and onsite community programs.
  • Gregory Pendleton has lived in the community for 12 years and has volunteered for at least nine years. He volunteers for everything — from grill duty at residents’ cookouts to food and bread distributions during the height of COVID-19.
  • Willie Roberts, another long, another long-time resident, has volunteered for eight years, including delivering food to residents’ doors, and helping with food distribution and vaccine clinics. He also cleans up the front grounds on the weekends.
  • Calvin Warren is a 19-year resident, and has been an active volunteer for at least 11 years. He has been on the front line delivering meals, assisting with vaccine clinics, and helping the Resident Services team whenever they needed an extra pair of hands. He also helps deliver food to shut-in residents.
  • Willie Warren has lived at MonteVerde for 12 years, and has been a consistent volunteer since he moved in. He is the DJ for all resident events – and happily responds to all requests. He also regularly volunteers his time delivering food to frail and elderly residents.
  • Louis Woolridge has lived at MonteVerde for 17 years and has been a committed volunteer for at least 11 years. He helps neighbors in myriad ways, from delivering food to helping with household chores when needed.

About MonteVerde Apartments

Located in Baltimore City’s Lower Park Heights neighborhood, MonteVerde is a 301-unit community offering affordable housing for seniors and non-elderly disabled residents in two 13-story buildings. AHC Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer, acquired the property in 2008 and completed an extensive renovation of the property in 2010 that provided a single entrance to the two buildings, updated kitchens and baths, new windows and heating and cooling systems, and additional communal gathering spaces for residents. AHC’s Resident Services program provides extensive onsite education and social services for residents.

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.

2021 in Review – By the Numbers

(Arlington, VA – January 5, 2022) 2021 was a challenging and jam-packed year. Many of us – particularly our residents – continued to feel the impacts of the pandemic acutely. AHC also navigated organizational changes as we move to third-party property management and search for our next President & CEO.

Through it all, AHC has continued to work hard to effectively engage with residents and create and preserve more affordable places for people to call home. Here’s a snapshot of what our partners, supporters, and volunteers helped us accomplish in 2021.

  • 1 award (& 342 solar panels)The Apex won Viridiant’s Building Sustainability Award for the Multifamily New Construction Project of the Year.
  • 5 years of College & Career ReadinessWatch the short video celebrating five years of the program and several students who are now out of college.
  • 6 new Board members. AHC elected six new Board members who bring together diverse voices and lived experiences.
  • 16 acres. The acquisition of Landings l and ll preserved 292 affordable apartments on 16 acres in Fairfax County.
  • 27 homeownership opportunities.  A new Montgomery County project will create nearly 200 affordable homes, including 27 homeownership opportunities.
  • 77 new affordable apartments. The redevelopment of Arlington View Terrace will provide 77 new affordable homes with free WiFi and sustainable design elements.
  • 189 renovated homes. Renovations at Greenspring Overlook, the first property we acquired in Baltimore 20 years ago, are almost complete.
  • 350 volunteers. AHC is deeply grateful to the 350 volunteers who worked regularly with our students and helped connect residents to services in 2021.
  • 644 vaccinations. Community partnerships helped vaccinate hundreds of AHC residents in Baltimore, Montgomery County, Arlington, and Alexandria.
  • 1,500 backpacks. Thanks to generous community donors,1,500 AHC students in Virginia and Maryland started school fully prepared.
  • $10 million in rental assistance. Resident Services have helped residents access nearly $10 million in much-needed rental assistance.
  • $170 million DC development. Now underway, Waterfront Station II is an exciting 450-unit, mixed-income, mixed-use new development in Southwest DC.

Photo: Clockwise from top left – Generous donors helped AHC provide 1,500 fully stuffed backpacks to students; Waterfront Station is an exciting 450-unit mixed-income, mixed-use development in Washington, DC; AHC and community partners helped vaccinate hundreds of our residents in the comfort of their homes in Virginia and Maryland; the Apex includes the largest solar array on a multifamily building in Northern Virginia.

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 7,500 apartment units 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. For more information, visit https://www.ahcinc.org/

 

Generous Community Support Brightens Holidays for AHC Residents

Generous community members helped make the holidays brighter for AHC residents of all ages with visits from Santa, Christmas trees, toys, and gift bags.

“We are grateful for the generous outpouring during the holiday season,” said Laura Jackson, AHC’s volunteer coordinator. “The support means so much to our families, many of whom are still struggling because of the ongoing pandemic. It was wonderful to see children’s eyes light up and also to experience the gratitude from our seniors – particularly those who aren’t able to visit with  family because of the pandemic.”

Amazon volunteers, including Santa, Mrs. Claus, and several elves, helped distribute 200 toys generously donated by Amazon employees from across the country. Gifts were also gathered through a toy drive organized by Wakefield High School’s Interact Club.

The Arlington County Police Department distributed nearly 1,100 toys to children living at AHC’s affordable apartment communities throughout Arlington. Children were able to choose brand new toys displayed on multiple tables at the community centers.

Volunteers from long-time supporter St. Peter’s Episcopal Church unloaded 40 Christmas trees at Woodbury Park/Frederick apartments, much to the delight of residents. Church volunteers also donated 160 toys to AHC children.

Volunteers at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, next door neighbors to AHC’s Spire apartment community in Alexandria, shared hot chocolate and toys with nearly 50 children.

Generous supporters dropped off almost 500 Holiday Gift Bags for senior citizens at our Arlington properties and to the middle and high school students in our education programs. The gift bags are filled with items like adult coloring books & colored pencils, fuzzy socks, hats & gloves, tea & hot chocolate and gift cards.

Donors include 28 individuals, Arlington Rotary Club, Microsoft, TMG Construction, 3 Girl Scout troops, Willis Towers Watson, Partner Forces, and Marymount University athletic teams (Women’s Lacrosse, Men’s Soccer, Men’s Lacrosse, Baseball, Softball and Assistant Athletic Director).

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 apartment units in 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults, and seniors each year.