By Hannah Cheyney and Mei Tomko
Happy June! As the weather is warming up, we have been traveling throughout the DMV to attend community events, engage students at schools, and encourage community members to get more involved with AALEAD. We have also been gearing up for our summer programs and continuing to build out our newly revived mentor program. Throughout the spring, we accepted lots of new applications for mentors and mentees. Currently, we have nine active mentor/mentee pairs along with one summer intern, Mei Tomko. Mentor/mentee applications are still open! If you are looking for a flexible opportunity to build an impactful relationship with a youth or want one-on-one support from a caring adult (and opportunities for SSL hours & field trips), join our program!
Since the beginning of 2022, we have been to Argyle Middle School, Holmes Middle School, Falls Church High School, Blair High School, and Annandale High School engaging prospective youth about AALEAD’s programs. At Blair High School, Ari Pak (AALEAD’s Program’s Director) and Hannah Cheyney (The Mentoring Program Manager) led a mental health workshop.
Last month, we celebrated AAPI Heritage Month through joining in on community events including The Asian Festival on Main in Fairfax, Virginia and the AAPI Resource Fair in Maryland. Some of our Mentoring Program participants even came out to volunteer with us and support us! The Mentoring Program relaunched this spring with a focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Looking ahead to this summer, we are focusing on the SEL Core Competency of building relationship skills. Specifically, we are working on forming positive relationships, developing teamwork skills, and dealing effectively with conflict. There are numerous opportunities this summer to promote pair bonding, see the picture below of one of our pairs making use of our partnership with Tickets for Kids by going to a Nationals game. Tickets for Kids is an organization that partners with local nonprofits to provide sports game tickets to low-income, at-risk children and youth.
One last win that we celebrated this spring in AALEAD’s Mentoring Program is that we received funding from the High Bridge Foundation to help aid barriers to mentoring, allowing us to continue offering opportunities and support to our mentors and mentees. The High Bridge Foundation works to fund youth development programs promoting the well-being of young people so we are honored to be supported by this great foundation!
Finally, our beloved Program Director, Ari Pak, transitioned out of AALEAD in the beginning of June. Ari has been with AALEAD for over nine years managing all of our youth programs and supporting every initiative through and through. Within the past two years, Ari helped to revive our mentor program since it ended in 2020. They have helped to build it back up and pass it off to our newest team member, Hannah Cheyney, who now manages the mentoring program. THANK YOU ARI FOR ALL THAT YOU’VE DONE! WE APPRECIATE YOU!