Youth Education Program
Four days per week, Community Lodgings provides academic support for children enrolled in our Transition-in-Place Program and children living in the Arlandria-Chirilagua community. Each day, more than 100 students attend afterschool program, drop in for evening tutoring sessions, participate in mentoring activities, or build their skills in our computer lab.
Staff and volunteers organize field trips and weekly exercise sessions, run mentoring clubs, and promote healthy attitudes to dating and conflict resolution. On average, children receive 350 hours of academic and general support each year.
Community Lodgings ensures that children have a safe place to go after school. In addition, our bilingual staff offer parents support, for example, by teaching them how to advocate for their kids.
“I think he’s always willing to try something”, said Chris Minnich, Javier’s mentor. “I think he’s been someone who I find determined to make his life better than what was given to him. These are the reasons that these types of [afterschool] programs are critical for these kids,” he said. “The reason kids drop out of school isn’t because of academics. It’s because they don’t have anyone to tell them they care about them going to school.”
A few months ago, a confident and loquacious young man dropped in our Family Learning Center staff. Javier, who entered our afterschool program at the age of 8, graduated from Community Lodgings’ program for high school students in 2011 and earned his diploma from T.C. Williams High School the same summer. Through Community Lodgings’ field trips to college campuses Javier set his focus on Salisbury State University. Through staff guidance in the application process and accessing financial help, he was off to school! Community Lodgings staff accompanied Javier and his parents to the university to guide them with logistics of a new college experience.
Now, 2 years later, Javier is ‘moving on. His success at Salisbury State has spawned a new frontier as he reveals only a slight hint of nervousness in discussing his upcoming college course load. He seems relatively unfazed by the giant leaps he has made to pursuing pre-medical preparation at James Madison University.
Speaking with Javier brought back memories of his significant childhood struggles. He maintained that it was Community Lodgings’ staff, afterschool programs and resources that rescued him and helped to redirect his priorities. Our staff – our high school coordinator, in particular – patiently worked with Javier to focus to graduation, higher education, and beyond. Of course, this is only possible in a setting where support and continuity are provided from elementary school through high school, such as our Family Learning Center.
The boy matured exponentially in his high school years. When Javier expressed interest in extracurricular activities, our staff helped him develop a more active approach. Our afterschool coordinator accompanied him to meetings with the school’s rugby coach. Then she worked closely with Javier and a few of his peers to identify swimming lessons, which we subsidized. By his senior year of high school, Javier was a member of the rugby and swim teams, and even worked as a lifeguard the following summer to save for college.
Just two years into his college career, Javier is on a full ride to James Madison University. He is a Biology major and will pursue a career in medicine. We can only the hope for similar outcomes for over 100 children currently being served in our afterschool programs. But with six high school graduates having completed our afterschool programs in the past four years, we are mighty confident that more successes are just around the bend.