Photo: Todd Freimuth
Three Arlington volunteers who go beyond the call to help members of their communities were acknowledged Tuesday night by the organization AHC, Inc.
“Here in Arlington, the community’s support is uncompared,” AHC President Walter Webdale told a crowded room at the Gates of Ballston Community Center on Oct. 16. “We couldn’t accomplish what we do without our volunteers.”
The winners of the awards ranged from long time volunteers to a former member of the program who was looking to reciprocate.
“I really just love the kids,” said award winner Maria Garcia. Only in 11th grade, Garcia has been volunteering her time to help counsel at the organization’s summer camp. She has been volunteering for over five years and works at the same camp her little brother attends, she said.
Garcia said that the program helped her a lot, and she wanted to return the favor.
Award winner Bernard Piper has been volunteering all his life, he said.
“[Volunteering] makes me whole.” he said.
Inspired by his mother who was a long time volunteer, Piper spent an extra half hour with kids each week developing math games to help children strengthen math skills.
Stephen Peacock earned his award by dedicating time helping a student greatly increase the boy’s GPA. The boy joined the program mid-year struggling to keep his grades above passing levels, but by the end of the year had earned a GPA equivalent to a solid B.
“Getting the kids interested in higher education is what’s most rewarding for me,” Peacock said.
This was the first time that volunteers at the after-school programs were formally recognized by the AHC.
“Recognition of the volunteers is important to the programs,” said AHC Communications Manager Celia Slater. “This also gives many of our other partners a chance to see what else we do besides development.”
AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing complexes in the mid-Atlantic region that develops homes for low- and moderate-income families, according to their website. The nonprofit also runs three volunteer assisted resident services programs for families in the communities. AHC owns the Gates of Ballston in the Buckingham neighborhood. The community center is on N. 4th Street.
Through after-school tutoring and summer camp programs at six community centers in Arlington, volunteers work with children and teens who seek help in academics.
The choice to pick the three individuals was not an easy task, said Resident Services Director Jen Endo. Staff from all three programs looked at the group’s nearly 200 volunteers and wrote letters of recommendations about the candidates, she said.