Kids Club: Thanksgiving and Christmas

Dec 12, 2012

In reflection of the past month, we have a lot to be thankful for at Kids Club. This year, the Directiva de padres/Parent Leadership Committee organized its first Thanksgiving Meal. I wish the dinner was videotaped (in today’s language “videoblogged”), because it was so special. The president, Roger Reyes, stood up to begin the night by retelling the Thanksgiving story. He compared the pilgrims to Latino immigrants. Like the pilgrims who came here to look for a safe place to practice their faith and make their own life, they too have come asperegrinos/pilgrims. He shared that they have been welcomed here by the Americans and have survived here in this foreign land. He gave thanks for the volunteers and staff of Casa Chirilagua who have been a part of those who have welcomed and supported them and their families. At the end of Roger’s talk everyone was silent and one kid asked, “Is it okay to clap?” It was a special moment of bonding together as a community with God among us.

It was a joyful night of feasting, singing and dancing. At the end of the night when all the parents had cleaned and put away the food, Roger said to me, “We need to do something like this for the volunteers to tell them thank you.”

We are also grateful for the different volunteers and organizations that have volunteered with us to help enhance our programs. For five weeks, iPath a community outreach program from INOVA Health Systems partnered with Kids Club. iPath taught the kids about healthy eating habits and exercise. One of the highlights was introducing the kids to new fruits and vegetables. One day the kids made a healthy (but tasty) brussel sprouts recipe. For all but one child, it was their first time eating brussel sprouts. They were so excited to try new things.

Later in December, the kids will also participate in some exercise routines lead by former Redskins player Cliff Russell. Our kids have also participated in activities with NetSmartz a program from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. With their help and partnership, we look forward to further educating our kids in internet safety. Also, Freddy Hernandez, a Casa Chirilagua board member and mentor, has spearheaded a fundraising effort to purchase tablets for both Teens Club and Kids Club. He is passionate about getting technology into the hands of our students. In January 2013, we will begin using tablets in our afterschool programs. The tablets will allow us to introduce the kids to new technology and enhance skills learned in the classroom. We invite you to participate with Freddy by donating money to purchase tablets or apps for this technology in our program.

We, as Casa Chirilagua staff, are thankful to see the kids have fun and laugh together with their families. We are deeply grateful seeing parents take leadership and ownership of the different programs and events. We look forward to a future when we can see participants of Casa programs become the leaders of all we do. Our hope is that local leadership can be developed and the mission of Casa will be spread by others. We can’t wait to tell you more in January about our Advent season.

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.