wishlist

  • Casa Volunteer Opportunities

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  • Wishlists for Kids Club and Mentoring

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  • Casa’s Amazon Smile

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  • Seeking 1-to-1 Mentors

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who we are

As Kids Club volunteer Ms. Nancy sat down to talk with Eddy, his head was turned away and his arms were crossed. Eddy hadn’t been listening when Kids Club was doing the daily honor code review and each time Ms. Nancy had asked him to focus, he would ignore her and continue to talk with his friends. As other students began homework time, Ms. Nancy began to talk with Eddy about his choices – but he struggled to engage and said he just didn’t care.

 

Ms. Marissa and Eddy went out to the hallway. Kneeling down to be on his eye level, Ms. Marissa asked, “Hey Eddy, what’s the expectation we have of every body during honor code time?”

 

“Well, that everyone is quiet and listening,” he replied.

 

“Were you following that expectation?” she asked.

 

“No…I wasn’t focused,” Eddy said.

 

“When Ms. Nancy talked to you about what happened, why did tell her you didn’t care?” Marissa asked.

 

Eddy looked at her silently and shrugged. Seeing a teaching moment, Marissa reviewed with Eddy the 3 parts of being vulnerable they’d been talking about at Kids Club: owning mistakes and taking responsibilities for actions, being honest about how we feel, and communicating directly and with kindness.

 

“Eddy, is there a way that practicing vulnerability feels hard right now?” Marissa asked. He nodded in response, “If I admit my mistakes, I get a punishment. I don’t know how people are going to react.”

 

Marissa said to Eddy, “Yes, when we admit our mistakes we do have to take responsibility for our actions – there may be a consequence that isn’t fun. But at Kids Club we don’t want to punish you – we want to help you learn and grow. We want you to trust that you are loved and accepted no matter what.”

 

As she looked at Eddy, she began to see a softening in his heart and that he was truly hearing what was being spoken. She looked at him and asked, “Eddy, you know Ms. Nancy well. If you admit your mistake and apologize to her, do you think she’ll reject you and hold a grudge or is she someone who will forgive and welcome you back in?”

 

Immediately he responded, “She will forgive… she’s kind.”

 

Taking a deep breath, he walked into the classroom and practiced vulnerability and courage by admitting his mistake, having a hard conversation, and seeking to reconnect with a volunteer he really cares about. He and Ms. Nancy shared a hug as she reminded him, “Eddy, I care about you because I see how much potential you have. I just want you to be the best you can be.” Eddy smiled and nodded his head, and went to begin his work.

 

This month, Eddy was courageous and practiced vulnerability even when it was hard. It was a big victory for him and it helped build the culture of vulnerability we are seeking at Kids Club. At Kids Club, students, staff and volunteers are learning together that with the foundation of a good relationship, a culture of honor is possible.

 

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Ms. Marissa, Youth Programs Director

 

As Eliana walked towards the pantry sink at Kids Club, I greeted her and asked, “Hey, how was your day today?” “It was ok,” she responded, “school is confusing.” I asked her to tell me more. She shared that paying attention is challenging because she’s sleepy; she’s sleepy because her little sister often wakes up scared in the middle of the night and climbs into Eliana’s bed, keeping her awake.

 

“It sounds like you need help figuring out how to love your sister while still getting the rest you need to do well in school. Have you talked to your dad?” I asked. “No,” she said, “I don’t know what to say… that just feels really hard.” We spent the next few minutes practicing ways she could communicate her needs to her dad. Before she ran off to play I asked, “Do you think you can be courageous and have this conversation with him tonight, even though you don’t know how he will respond?” She took a deep breath and said, “I think I can.”

 

After some days passed I followed up with Eliana regarding her conversation with her father. She paused, then replied, “I haven’t asked him yet.” I was a bit dismayed, but I continued to encourage her, reminding her that courage helps us confront our fears.

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One of Maria’s strengths is her patience. Every day she genuinely seeks to connect with each individual student in Kids Club. She finds that some students connect easily with their leaders – while other students remain reserved, requiring patience and creativity to build deeper relationships. These are the students she seeks out most on a daily basis.

 

“I want every student to know they are seen and that they are special to me, as well as the rest of the class,” says Maria, who is in her second year as a Kids Club assistant in Casa’s Local Leader program.

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Our community center has been busy with students of all ages from morning until night this summer. Here are reports from each of the classes. Also be sure to follow the photos on our Facebook page!

 

Summer Kids Club

Our elementary school friends have been working hard this summer! As they reviewed fractions, practiced math facts, and went over place value and rounding – volunteers and staff worked hard to set students up for success in the coming school year. Math and reading can be subject areas that are the most frustrating for our kids. However, thanks to your one on one support 76% of students feel more confident to learn math while 83% of students feel more confident around reading in the upcoming school year. Thank you to all volunteers who came out to support our children in Summer Club!

 

Teens Casa Club

As Ana* sat at teens’ Casa Club Camp she weaved yarn in and out of a cross-shaped design which she had created. I asked her, “What have you appreciated about Casa Club this past year?” She thought for a while and then she answered, “I got the help I needed and I met new people.” I followed up asking what kind of help she had received, expecting it to be around her school work. She replied, “Well, they helped me learn how to talk to people. Talking to new people is hard for me, and I don’t always control my emotions well. But they helped me process my emotions, and they were patient and kind with me. Now I feel like talking to new people isn’t so hard anymore.

 

It’s been encouraging to see volunteers at Casa Club building a community where students feel safe to learn how to express themselves. Across all of our programs, volunteers build deeper relationships, instilling confidence and nurturing stronger communities. Thank you to each of you for everything you’ve done to build a flourishing community in Chirilagua.

 

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It was a humid day. The sun was in the sky shining its powerful heat upon the blacktop behind Casa Chirilagua. Kids Club had one solution: water fight! First students split into 4 teams with their leaders standing right in the middle. Yes, they were surrounded by Kids Club students armed with water balloons and buckets of water. After a moment of silence and giggling, we shouted, “Get ready…set….GO!!” What came next was one. Epic. Waterfight.

 

During the school year, our Kids Club team plans lessons, manages behaviors, organizes, coordinates and does everything they can do to create the best program possible for our students. At the end of this long year, there is something so simple and freeing about being able to run around and throw water balloons at one another. We all enjoy splashing, spraying and laughing until our stomachs hurt.

 

At the end of the day Casa is always about relationships. Usually they’re built as a leader helps a student through a tough book, coaches another through a hard situation with a friend or connects with their family during a family dinner night. But today, relationships were built as we battled our friends with over 450 water balloons! And what better way to celebrate a year with friends then a water balloon fight?!

 

Click here to check out more photos of our final day of Kids Club!

 

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“Mom! Dad! Come see what I made!” Our Kids Club friends were all smiles during their recent Talent Show and Art Expo. This year, their talent show was a culmination of all the works of art they had created throughout the year. Our community center’s classrooms were turned into a lively art gallery displaying each student’s writing work, sculptures and paintings. As parents and mentors filtered in to watch the performances and presentations, kids excitedly grabbed their hands to take them through the art gallery before the show began.

 

One mother commented, “This was our first year in Kids Club and we are so grateful. It has been so good for my daughter’s socialization. She loves the program and has made new friends. She likes the art activities and is excited to show her work to me. Kids Club has also helped me build friendships in the community. Life used to simply be work, home and church but now I see people who I know in the neighborhood and feel like I am part of a community.”

 

Students who were once  shy and quiet now proudly showed off their paintings then spoke confidently into the microphone as they read their writing projects in front of everyone. Leading up to the dance show some were nervous about remembering their dance moves – but in the end they stole the show! After the writing workshop students participated in a survey about their experiences. Many responses reflected a high level of growth in their confidence to present in front of others and it was very evident at this event.  Thanks to the efforts of their writing instructors, art teachers and Kids Club leaders this year’s talent show was a huge success!

 

We live streamed the dance performances and writing workshop presentations, so if you missed out and want to check out some of the performances click here to watch the recording!

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As a first grader walking into Kids Club for the first time, I can imagine our program might be a little overwhelming. You ride the bus to a new place for the first time and you walk in to a community center full of kids you don’t really know. It’s loud, it’s full of energy, and there are all kinds of rhythms that you don’t yet know how to navigate. If I were a 1st grader, I wouldn’t know where to begin, and would really want someone to reach out and teach me the ropes.

 

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What words come to mind when we think of Mr. Leigh?

Committed. FUN. Boisterous. Entertaining. LOVING.

 

Mr. Leigh is committed. For 5 years he has served faithfully alongside our community. As a volunteer at Kids Club he shows up twice a week, and seldom if ever misses a day or field trip. As soon as the school year started Mr. Leigh made sure we gave him a schedule of all of the field trips so he could move his work schedule around, sometimes even taking time off, to join us as a chaperone. From field trips to the trampolines, pool, museums, Mr. Leigh helps keep our kids’ safe, and helps ensure they have FUN!

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In front of her peers and community, Anna’s* mother and father begin their address to her, “Dear Anna—,” immediately they pause to collect themselves, their eyes welling up with tears. “We want to congratulate you on your first achievement in school. Your education is the best gift that we as parents can give you. We want you to keep on being a hardworking student, responsible, obedient, and respectful. We want you to fly high…because you have the opportunity and support from us. Our greatest pride is seeing you get an education. We love you.”

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Art workshop teaches students about themselves and the world!

 

 “How do you see yourself?… What do you love about your community?… What’s unique about your culture?… How do you see the world?” These were a few of the questions that our Kids Club students were asked during a creative arts and expression workshop that took place the last week in April. After a generous donation of hundreds of Neuland Markers, Casa mentor Erin Gordon – along with other volunteers – helped us develop a week long workshop for our kids to learn how to express themselves through art.

 

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During snack time at Kids Club I enjoy walking around to engage with the students. Recently at Kids Club I noticed a group of 3rd graders gathered around one of our first grade girls, Esperanza*. She stood there holding a piece of paper while all the older girls stared at it and talked excitedly all at once.

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This is not Andres’* typical Saturday morning. The alarm goes off very early. Waking up his first thought is that it must be a school day—it’s usually what happens when the alarm goes off this early. But his mom reminds him this is no school day. This is the day he will be speaking at City Hall! He and his mentor Michael* will be standing in front of Alexandria’s City Council to speak about Casa Chirilagua. This is a big day!

 

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Kids Club student a winner of MLK Day drawing contest!

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day students at Mount Vernon participated in a drawing contest with the prompt “Who inspires you?” When he heard this question, 5th grader Carlos* knew immediately who he wanted to draw—Lionel Messi.  “He works hard and he really cares about people…and he’s an amazing soccer player. I want to be like him,” said Carlos when asked why he chose Messi.

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Kids Club celebrates Fun Friday with a visit to the Burke Nursery & Garden Centre pumpkin patch!

 

Watch this video to experience the fun:

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If there is a familiar and friendly face in the Chirilagua community, it’s Lupita and her dear mom. A native to Alexandria, Lupita has lived in Chirilagua since she was born. Her heritage is found in the diverse foods of Honduras, something both Lupita and her mother enjoy sharing, cooking, and serving.

 

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Ana comes to us with a rich cultural background that is common among the Chirilagua neighbors. Born and raised in Alexandria, she grew up in and still is very much a part of the Chirilagua community. Her parents are from the original Chirilagua, San Miguel, in El Salvador.

 

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Your support fosters one of Casa’s core values; building Local Leaders within the community. Every day these leaders build up the students around them at Kids Club. Veteran Local Leader Leydy will tell you it isn’t always easy. With kids’ varying personalities, enthusiasm and energy she’s learned to remain a firm, flexible, fun and sincere leader. Now in her second year, Leydy knows how to command the room.

 

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Hello Casa Family! My name is Marissa Salgado and I am so happy to be a part of the Casa Team as the new Kids Club Director. I joined the team in June and the last few months have been a blessing.

 

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As the Blue Team’s final team member raced across the finish line for the Kid’s Club Olympics Relay, you could see the look of defeat crossing the faces of their competition, the Red Team. Friendly competition has always been a part of our Olympic games and our local leaders have made sure to emphasize sportsmanship, respect, and kindness in our everyday activities. However, I felt overjoyed when one of our students demonstrated this sportsmanship. This was one lesson he had taken away from our week of fun and games.

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Mrs. Andrea Lacey has been a Casa Chirilagua volunteer since 2012. We are proud to call her one of our veteran volunteers as all of our children know her well. Mrs. Lacey always arrives with a smile and willingness to serve at Kids Club wherever she is needed. She treats our students in a caring and positive way and one of her values is to treat others “as you would like to be treated.” When asked how she feels about  working with younger people, she responds, “When children are happy and have self-esteem they can accomplish more – and they tend to respond to others in a positive way, making the world a better place.”

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Casa News