Alternative House News
Alexandria Transitional Living Home
We are proud to open a new Transitional Living Program house in Alexandria. This program helps support homeless youth ages 18- 22 years old. We provide housing and life skills training designed for young people to become self-sufficient adults.
Our programs offer safety in the moment and much more—they empower and inspire young people to rise far above their challenges and equip them with the skills they need to shape a new narrative for their lives.
AH Culmore Teen Center Soccer Team Wins Regional Tournament
Congratulations to the Alternative House Culmore Teen Center soccer team! The team played in a Northern Virginia soccer tournament sponsored by the local police departments in early May. By winning the tournament they were not only awarded a beautiful trophy but also 32 tickets to the National USA Team vs. Brazil friendly soccer match played at the sold-out RFK Stadium. The participants were Yoni Sorto, Byron Hernandez, Emmanuel Alvarado, Martin Barahona, Kevin Buruca, Mohamed Raza, Kenis Alvarez and Alejandro Diaz.
Culmore Graduation Celebration
What a great week we had last week. Monday started with the graduation celebration for the young people at the Annandale Safe Youth Project. Wednesday found us celebrating with the youth in Culmore. We had a joint program with the 4th, 5th and 6th graders from the Safe Youth Project and the teens at the Culmore Teen Center. The Teen Center was packed! Everyone had a great time receiving certificates of recognition for their outstanding achievements presented by our Board Member Julie Pangalinen. Alternative House Board Member Rick Holzheimer also joined us as did two members of the Bailey's Crossroads Rotary Club, William Cook and Karey Starnes.
The Baliey's Rotary has been a long-time supporter of our programs in Culmore and it was great to see them at the celebration. The Teen Center was freshly painted by volunteers from Convergint Technologies and was perfect for the occasion. We heard poems and viewed artwork of the students and then had a great meal of Lasagne and salad prepared by the women from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in McLean. A special graduation cake finished off the event and was promptly "finished off" by the many hungry young people in attendance!
One of the most memorable things for me that evening was the opportunity to talk with one of the graduating teens. This young woman's family is originally from Pakistan. In addition to going to school and working at the Teen Center as a Youth Worker, she has been caring for her mother who is ill. When I spoke to her about what lay ahead after graduation, she told me she would be spending two years at Community College and then planned to transfer to either Virginia Tech or VCU to study medicine.
Her ultimate goal is to open a clinic where homeless people can receive medical care free of charge. She is such a determined and focused young woman that I am looking forward to attending the grand opening of her clinic. I'm sure she'll succeed.
The Homeless Youth Initiative (HYI) is celebrating the end of the school year and the graduation of all 13 of our seniors from high school. We could not be more proud that the program will have a 100 percent graduation rate this school year.
High school graduation is a major accomplishment for any teenager, but particularly so for our clients who have had to pursue their education without the support of a parent or guardian. These students have not had the benefit of a parent to wake them up in the morning and ensure they go to school, a parent to drive them to school when they inevitably wake up late, or a parent to remind then that it is time to get off the computer in the evening and focus on their homework.
These students have been able to find the internal drive and motivation to complete their academic course load and graduate with a high school diploma. The majority of these students are employed and living independently. Many of them support themselves financially and balance the real life challenges of being an adult, with the demands of being a high school student.
Our graduates this year come from all three portions of our program: our group home, host homes and our rent voucher program. It is truly incredible for us as a staff to reflect on all these young people have accomplished, despite the turmoil and many transitions they have experienced. It has been our honor to support these students, celebrate their accomplishments and provide the occasional "tough love" moments that they have needed along the way.
Many of our seniors have elected to pursue a college education in the fall. We have five students going away to four-year universities, three who plan to attend Northern Virginia Community College, one student who is enrolled in a full time nursing program and other students who continue to explore their options such as certificate programs, the military and AmeriCorps. We wish them continued success in all of their endeavors!