Monday, June 20, 2011

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.

Judith Dittman

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