Pause. Celebrate. Together.

Jul 19, 2017

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.”

When a community comes together to pause and celebrate their children’s accomplishments, it is a powerful experience. Tears of joy flow freely and laughter fills the air as relationships are deepened. The bonds between these children with their parents, their peers, and their community—friends and volunteers who have guided their lives for years—build up their confidence as they move forward in life.


Every year parents of the Chirilagua community pause to come together and celebrate a milestone: their rising 5th grade children’s graduation from Kids Club. This milestone is significant for various reasons. Beyond attaining a higher level of education than some of their parents had in their origin country, these students’ success builds self-confidence and represents a dream of even greater achievements to come for their entire family.


“[My son Pedro*] finished 5th grade thanks to Casa Chirilagua’s support. I’m very happy and proud of him for finishing 5th grade. My wish for him is to continue his education, to be the best student in school and the best son. My biggest hope is to see Pedro graduate from high school and college. Congratulations. I love you, and keep moving forward.”


Four years ago this community event did not yet exist. It was the parents in the community who came together to create this celebration. Instead of a party put on solely by Casa Chirilagua’s Kids Club staff, these parents envisioned a party for the students which they themselves sponsored, planned and executed. Each year the celebration grows and the parents make it happen by preparing decorations, coordinating outfits, creating games, obtaining food and writing heartfelt letters to their children, reading words of encouragement contained in those letters aloud in front their Casa Chirilagua community.


Milestones are a testament to all of the work put into them. The parents, community and volunteers who pour into students’ lives are proof of this. So let’s pause—and celebrate together, this one of many milestones that our community has created.



If you would like information on how to create future milestones in our community, visit our Connect page.


See more photos from the event 


* Names changed for privacy

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.