Summer Memories and New Beginnings!

By Melor Suhaimi, MD Programs Manager
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

Summer unofficially ended in Maryland during the last week of August with many Maryland students going back to school.  However, with the heat and humidity, it still feels like summer and it made me feel a bit nostalgic. This summer was filled with great memories in Maryland’s Summer Kinect program, a bittersweet goodbye for our colleague, Francine Gorres, and a huge welcoming for 2 brand new staff members, Ari Pak and Shaima Ahmad. As mentioned in previous AALEAD blog posts, Summer Kinect provided AALEAD youth with an opportunity to build lasting relationships, discuss issues on mental health, and overall provide a safe and fun setting for our youth!

Our MD High School youth even planned a special goodbye for AALEAD staff member, Francine Gorres. Francine has worked with AALEAD for many years and will be moving on to her next chapter in New York City! Francine’s dedication and passion to AALEAD has shown in the growth of AALEAD’s MD High School Program. We are very thankful and grateful for Francine being part of the AALEAD team and are also very excited for Francine’s next chapter! On the second to last day of the Summer Kinect program, our MD High School youth surprised Francine with a goodbye video, a serenade, and a gift for her to remember AALEAD forever. It was a special moment for all of us and we will truly miss you Francine!

With the bittersweet goodbye for Francine, there was also a welcoming for 2 new staff members, Ari and Shaima.  Ari is part of the AALEAD team as MD’s High School Program Coordinator and Shaima is VA’s High School Program Coordinator.   Ari and Shaima started their first few weeks with introductions to all of AALEAD programs and attending the Advanced Youth Development (AYD) training in Maryland.  The training, attended by most of AALEAD staff, provides an in-depth understanding of youth development.  This training is critical for all staff because it provides a foundation as to why we work with youth and the importance of understanding where youth are coming from.  Below is a picture of Ari and Shaima’s AYD graduation day.  Congratulations Ari and Shaima!

This summer will always be memorable, but it is also a reminder that the 2014-2015 school year is beginning.  The first few weeks of the school year are usually a time for MD staff to schedule recruitment dates to encourage returning AALEAD youth and new AALEAD youth to join AALEAD after-school programs.  In the next two weeks, recruitment meetings at our MD High Schools and Middle Schools will take place:  Einstein HS, Blair HS, Wheaton HS , Loiederman MS, Argyle MS, Parkland MS, Newport Mill MS, and Eastern MS.  Please contact me at if you are interested in attending one of these recruitment meetings to learn more about our MD programs. AALEAD’s MD staff are excited for the school year and we are looking forward to seeing our youth again!

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