During the height of the pandemic, Abigail, affectionately known as Abby, excelled in creating community in a digital space when many students were cut off from the outside world. Abby served at Aspire Afterschool Learning during the 2020 summer program, the 2020-21 program year ,and the 21- 22 program year as an AmeriCorps State Member. Abby served students in our virtual program during the Covid-19 pandemic by helping them with literacy, math, social-emotional learning, and STEAM-related activities. Abby created and implemented fun activities, helped with homework, and helped make the virtual learning space engaging and supportive. She played an instrumental role in making sure the students had a community where they could play and learn together.
After joining their in-person team to work with parents and program data, she connected with the parents of our students to share student progress, successes, and challenges. Her work was integral in connecting our AmeriCorps members to parents and teachers. Abby’s work during her time as Parent and Data Coordinator has had a lasting effect on the organization.
Alongside Staff, Abby helped inform, organize, and codify practices around enrolling students ensuring that parents had a positive experience with the process and establishing a constructive relationship with Aspire. She also contributed to effectively organizing and tracking student data in a meaningful way to benefit relationships with parents, partner schools, volunteers and fellow program team members. Her help in organizing these processes strengthened our organization. Abby was consistently dedicated and cared deeply about both the students and their families, whether online or in person.
Justin Hu & Shayla Young
Story of Service: Justin Hu & Shayla Young
Virginia's top two youth volunteers of 2019, Justin Hu, 16, of Vienna and Shayla Young, 13, of Springfield, were honored in the nation's capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 24th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Justin and Shayla – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received a $1,000 award and personal congratulations from award-winning actress Viola Davis at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals...
Salem Area Ecumenical Ministries
Story of Service: Salem Area Ecumenical Ministries
The Salem Area Ecumenical Ministries (SAEM) is a gathering of lay and pastoral representatives from Salem, Virginia, and western Roanoke County churches and local service agencies, working to strengthen community resilience by encouraging collaboration in the areas of food, clothing, and educational resources. With the support of more than 300 volunteers, SAEM offers elementary and middle school meal programs and school gardens as well as Mrs. Dorsey's Clothes Closet. SAEM actively engages members of diverse faith congregations and encourages previous recipients of their ministries to assist with programs. SAEM is recognized as the lead ministry partner in providing food, clothes,...
George and Kim Melnyk, Jr.
Story of Service: George and Kim Melnyk, Jr.
Congratulations to George and Kim Melnyk, Jr. - winner of the 2021 Governor's Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Volunteer Family! For low income students in Hampton Roads, the pandemic created a whole new set of challenges, from scarcity of school supplies to wi-fi accessibility. Even having a desk for virtual classes and homework was a major issue for many families. For George and Kim Melnyk, Jr., owners of Premier Millwork, this particular need turned out to be a perfect fit for the family. As soon as they were contacted by CHIP (Children’s Health Investment Program) of South Hampton...
Lori Schmiege & Huey Gordon
Story of Service: Lori Schmiege & Huey Gordon
National Service Alumni of the Year Huey Gordon & Lorie Schmiege, CARITAS, Richmond Both AmeriCorps Alums with CARITAS, the dynamic duo of Lori Schmiege and Huey Gordon manage the CARITAS Furniture Bank operations. Lori, who served from 2010-2011, and Huey, who served from 2011-2012, both react with empathy and a resolve to “get things done,” attitudes they developed as members. They are also both willing and happy to coach and mentor other AmeriCorps members and ultimately show these members how to be excellent employees when they move on to the workforce. Since joining CARITAS staff, they have mentored 40 AmeriCorps members...
Story of Service: Jay Rachakonda
Jay Rachakonda has always loved building things, from robots to community partnerships. Jay fell in love with robotics and engineering from a young age, and wanted to make sure his peers had the chance to see the fun in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as well. When Jay learned about the barriers that kept his friends and classmates from participating in STEM activities, including required programs costs and COVID protocols, Jay became committed to finding ways to overcome challenges and inspire others to give STEM activities a try. Jay built on his long standing passion for STEM and robotics...
Story of Service: Cydny Neville
Congratulations to Cyndy Neville of Prince William County -- winner of the 2017 Virginia Governor's Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Adult Volunteer! Full-time teacher Cydny Neville's commitment to students, their families, and her community goes way beyond the classroom. Cydny serves a minimum of 20 hours per week organizing community outreach across Prince William County and Northern Virginia. Her passion for the Prince William community led her to help individuals who are trying to start new businesses. Cyndy has assisted more than 100 small business owners with professional development training and has helped them secure business licenses by...