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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.

 

2017 Summer Camp Focuses on Creativity

AHC-students-enjoy-science-programs

The AHC Summer Camp provides fun, outdoor exercise and field trips while maintaining students’ literacy and math skills learned during the school year. The 2017 theme is “Creating”, which will give students the opportunity to be artists, inventors and scientists while stretching their imaginations.

The combination of fun and learning really works. More than 9o% of the students tested during last year’s camp showed no loss or some gain in their reading level. And a full quarter of campers returned to school in September reading at a higher level than in June.

Research shows that low-income students can lose more than two months of reading and math skills during the summer. AHC’s program is changing that equation.

As Patti, one of AHC’s Reading Specialists, says: “The Summer Camp Program provides experiences which bridge the end of the school year to the beginning of the next school year. Without making new discoveries and connecting with community, many children start all over again when the school year arrives.”

A stable community and year-round help with education is changing AHC students’ lives. Volunteers and/or donations are most welcome to help support the program.

Click here to volunteer.

Click here to donate.

 

AHC Inc. Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Honorees

More than 300 supporters joined AHC Inc. to celebrate its 40th Anniversary this fall. The event highlighted the organization’s growth and achievements, honored five new Housing Hall of Fame members, celebrated student winners who submitted winning essays and art work, and elected AHC Board members. “Our 40th Anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate all those who have helped AHC over the years – our supporters, donors, volunteers, community partners and advocates – preserve and build affordable, stable homes for those in most need, ” said Walter D. Webdale, AHC Inc. President and CEO. “We’re thrilled to direct the event proceeds to our Resident Services program, which serves more than 2,000 youth, senior citizens and families each year.”

Since its founding in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,000 quality affordable apartments; touched thousands of children, families and senior citizens through its Resident Services programs; and expanded beyond its Arlington roots to also serve communities in Alexandria, Fairfax, Montgomery County, Baltimore and Washington, DC. AHC Milestones.

To commemorate the event, AHC named four individuals and an organization to its Housing Hall of Fame. Founded in 2001, AHC’s Housing Hall of Fame honors individuals and organizations for their vision, dedication and advocacy on behalf of affordable housing.

The 2016 honorees include Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Arlington; Patricia McGrady, decades-long affordable housing activist and volunteer; Rick Nelson, former Director of Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs; J. Walter Tejada, former Arlington County Board member; and Harkins Builders, long-time AHC Inc. business partner and supporter.

“AHC is proud to celebrate such an exemplary group of visionaries and supporters,” said Justin Oliver, AHC Board Chair. “It truly takes a village to provide affordable housing. Our honorees represent the community partners, volunteers, local government, elected officials, and business partners that are all critical to bringing affordable housing to life. Your commitment is what enables AHC to successfully continue building homes and futures. We are truly grateful for your support and honored to include you in our Housing Hall of Fame.”

The event also highlighted six students who submitted winning essays and artwork based on the themes of “How AHC’s Community Centers Affected My Life” and “The Place I Call Home.”

“The youngsters who live in AHC’s communities are the heart and soul of our programs,” explained Ginger Briggs Brown, former AHC Inc. Board member, who presented the children’s awards. “It is their futures we are working so hard to strengthen. Tonight we applaud their creative achievements.”

The Essay Contest winners include Jennifer Arevalo (First Place), Sara Berhe (Second Place) and Jennifer Rivera (Third Place). Art Contest winners are: Michelle Orellana (First Place), Angel Barrera (Second Place) and Loren Bonilla (Third Place). Read more. 

During the event, attendees also re-elected four AHC Board members, David Barsky, Jason Dalley, Justin Oliver and John Snyder. C.C. Jenkins, a long-time AHC supporter and prior Board member, was elected to return to the Board. Gladis Bourdouane, who joined the AHC Board in 2011, retired from the Board and was celebrated for her service and commitment. Read more. 

Read more stories, stats and history from AHC’s 40th Anniversary.

Photo: AHC Inc. celebrates 2016 Housing Hall of Fame honorees at 40th Anniversary Celebration. Front row, left to right:  Dr. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr.; Patricia McGrady; J. Walter Tejada; and Rick Nelson. Back row, left to right: Walter D. Webdale, AHC Inc. President and CEO; Mike Ebrahimi, Harkins Builders; Dick Lombardo, Harkins Builders; Mike Mallow, Harkins Builders; Gary Garofalo, Harkins Builders; and Justin Oliver, AHC Inc. Board Chair.