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Positive Parenting with Healthy Families Fairfax
"Thanks to UCM, I am reaching my goals and can be the best parent I can be."
Have you ever felt overwhelmed taking care of your young child? Have you ever been on the outs with your family? Did you ever need a place to turn to for advice?
HFF family image

Meet Camila, pictured here with her husband and toddler son Isaac. She immigrated to our community at age 14 with her mother and sisters. She did not finish high school, as she needed to work full-time to help her family survive. She was 7 months pregnant when she was referred to UCM's Healthy Families Fairfax program, by the county health department. She tells us:

"It is unbelievable to me how much has happened in the past two years.  I was pregnant, not married, and really scared about the future. Now I am a mother, married, and working. Thanks to UCM, my family and I are making it on our own, financially and emotionally. UCM has given me the strength to reach my goals to support our family and be the best parent I can be." 

Camila and her husband are just one of scores of young parents who receive home visits by our UCM Family Support Workers, who guide them with positive parenting skills -- so they can become better teachers for their children. Read more about Camila's familly >>

Our counselors offer help and hope to adults seeking to do better for their children.  UCM's services inspire lifelong changes like Camila describes that break the cycle of generational poverty.  With your gift to UCM, you make a critical, direct impact to change lives. 

We invite you to be part of the success of people like Camila and Alex. Make your donation today. Together, we stabilize, empower, and engage people to inspire their success. ELC30thUCM
UCM Early Learning Center Celebrates 30 Years
Planting the Seeds of Success through the Decades
We appreciate everyone who joined us on June 5 to celebrate this amazing milestone of our  , founded in 1986. All event proceeds benefited our Mount Vernon Kids programs. To view our event photo album, click here >>

ELC 30

"As we reflect on the Center, I'm reminded of the words of the American author and educator, Neil Postman: 'Children are the living messages we send to a time we will
 not see,' " remarked Elizabeth McNally, UCM Deputry Executive Director, as she welcomed attendees. "What were the program's original founders imagining when they opened our Center 30 years ago? Perhaps it was not simply to provide child care or the possibility of opportunity for children, but to make a promise. A promise that all children, regardless of race, creed, or circumstance have a real opportunity to achieve their full potential. Our Center is the embodiment of that promise -- opportunity made real."

"By delivering strong services and interventions in children's early years, we have a chance to reduce -- and ultimately prevent -- the achievement gap," she continued. "Today, we celebrate our past accomplishments and we draw upon the energy in this room to propel ourselves into the future of our Early Learning Center. You are all an important part of that future --whether as a program participant, a volunteer, an employee, a member of the Board, a financial supporter, or a champion in the community."

We extend a special thanks to:
  • Delegate Paul Krizek (44th Virginia) for agreeing to be our emcee.
  • Our event sponsor Saint Luke's Episcopal Church for sponsoring our celebration -- 
    and to so many caring community members who made a donation in honor of this milestone anniversary. We also thank Jeffery's Catering and Occasionally Cake for their donations of delicious food for our event.
  • Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, who presented us with a Resolution from the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to honor tour 30 years of quality service educating our youngest community members.
  • The many parents and families who shared their memories and words of thanks to the staff and teachers  -- including the Davis, McKay, Molden, and Whalen families.
  • Our dancers from the UCM Creekside Community Center.
  • Our many generous grant and community funders, for their support through the decades. Read list here >>
  • The Mount Vernon Voice newspaper for covering our celebration. To read the full page color article on page 8 in the June 8 issue, click here >>
ELC Resolution
Pictured with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Resolution honoring  the UCM Early Learning Center are (from left): Elizabeth McNally, UCM Deputy Executive Director; Board Members Jim Seeley, Suzy Coffey, Claudia Creo, and Diane Brooks; Center Director Torria Baker; UCM Board Vice Chair Janet Heddesheimer; Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay, Lee District; and UCM Board Treasurer Joe Conti.

Honoring Pre-K Teacher Lolita Sellers
At the event, we honored teacher Lolita Sellers for her 25 years of teaching Pre-Kindergarten.
Lolita Sellers
Center Director Torria Baker honors Teacher Lolita Sellers for 25 years of service
It is an honor and a privilege to speak on the recognition of Ms. Lolita for 25 years of serving children and families," said Center Director Torria Baker. "Ms. Lolita facilitates thinking, engages minds, listens, and encourages exploration, imagination and creativity. She's a dedicated professional, the first one to arrive and sometimes the last to leave."

"She supports us through any struggle with a certain calming leadership. Ms. Lolita hugs away fears and tears. She plants seeds of interest and intrigue. She cultivates dreams. She is always evolving, reinventing herself, and keeping up with the times.... No matter how young or old you are, she has an amazing ability to inspire you to wonder why, what, how.... She embodies the saying: 'Teaching creates all other professions.' "

"I appreciate all the good wishes from my past students and their parents," said Lolita. "And seeing so many of my former students, now all grown up. I am truly honored."

Did your child or a special someone you know attend our Center? Would you like to share a note of thanks to Ms. Lolita? We'd love to hear your stories! Email us at info@ucmagency.org. UCMHeritageCircle
Honoring our UCM Heritage Circle Families
New Donor Recognition Celebrates Generations of Service
At our June 5 event, we welcomed two families to our UCM Heritage Circle. This new donor recognition category is designed to honor families who for more than one generation have supported UCM in significant ways. The UCM Heritage Circle is our way to appreciate caring families in our community -- who by their example inspire many other 
families to volunteer and to support UCM. Our 2016 Heritage Circle families are:

The Krizek Family: Addy and Gene Krizek, and their sons including Paul Krizek, his wife Tracey Navratil, and daughter Khloe (pictured at right, with UCM Board Chair Janet Heddesheimer in red), who were with us. Read more about the Krizek Family >>

The Shute Family: Parents Bill and Zelda Shute, and children Dean (now living in Arizona), Nina, and Will. Read more about the Shute Family >>
Shute Family
Congratulations, Graduates!
Higher education means higher wages and is a key connector to financial and family independence for vulnerable youth and families. Congratulations to all students, young and old, graduating this month! We are especially proud of the following graduates:

2016 Valencourt Scholarships Awardees
Thanks to a generous bequest from the estate of Ms. Lois Valencourt in 2014, our Valencourt
Valencourt 2016
Scholarship awardees pictured with Harry Wood, representing Ms. Lois Valencourt.
Scholarship Fund enables students who have graduated from high schools in the Mount Vernon area to pursue vocational training and career advancement after high school graduation. On June 6, we awarded Valencourt Scholarships in the amount of $1,500 (renewable next year) to each of four students, who are all the first in their families to attend college:
  • Fernando Acosta is graduating from West Potomac High School and will pursue a degree in Civil Engineering at George Mason University. 
  • Angela Gallegos is dual-enrolled at Bryant Alternative High School and Northern Virginia Community College, pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Development. 
  • Tenesha Green (not pictured) is a graduating senior at West Potomac High School, with plans to pursue a degree in Mass Communications at Marymount University.
  • Shanae Witherspoon is graduating from Bryant Alternative High School, with plans to purse a degree in Nursing at Northern Virginia Community College.

Computer C.O.R.E Graduates
UCM partners with Computer C.O.R.E. for a unique 360-degree job empowerment
CORE grads
Some of our Computer C.O.R.E. graduates with their instructors.
training program for low-income and unemployed residents in our Mount Vernon area. The program combines accredited computer classes with job readiness and career development training. Classes meet in the evenings twice a week for five months. Participants can enroll as a degree or certificate program student at Northern Virginia Community College, graduating from the UCM program with 7 college credits under their belt. 
Congratulations to our June 2016 graduates:  Saba Agune, Samuel Asante, Sarony Irias Ruiz, Bate Mensah-Etsi, Miah Preston, Raymundo Rivera, Abdulkader Said, and Lillian Starks.

(Note: our 2016 Battelle-UCM Scholarship awardees will be announced in our July newsletter.) SpringNews
Spring Print Newsletter Now Online
The Spring 2016 issue of our UCM Community Connections newsletter is now available online as UCM Spring News a pdf download. 

If you would like a print copy and did not receive one in the regular mail, please email susan.johnson@ucmagency.org so she can get a copy to you. volunteers
Volunteers Make a Difference!
Volunteers are truly at the heart of United Community Ministries! The generous involvement of hundreds of volunteers every year makes a critical impact to ensure that struggling families and children have the opportunity to achieve stability and thrive. 

WestPo SHOUT Volunteers
This month, we give a big "shout out" to the group of 20 West Potomac High School graduating seniors who selected UCM for their SHOUT project -- "Students Helping Others United Together." UCM was privileged to host them for this annual opportunity to volunteer while also learning, during the final two weeks of their high school careers. Each SHOUT volunteer commits to spending 40 hours with the nonprofit agency.
Pictured at left are some of our SHOUT volunteers:  Afua Owusuaa (NoVa Community College), Comfort Asamoa (Virginia State Univ.), Amana Bhulyan (Salem College), Evelyn Sorto, Sana Iqbal, Revathi Mohan (Univ. of Virginia, Chemical Engineering), Jensy Manzano. Front row: Summer Awad (NoVa Community College), with Ms. Jessica Landon, West Potomac High School Librarian and SHOUT coordinator. 

SHOUT volunteers Joycelin and Akuah assist the Food Pantry
"This was our largest group ever of SHOUT volunteers," says Emily Griffin, UCM Volunteer Coordinator. "The students selected in advance which UCM service area interested them most.  We had students helping in the Food Pantry, at our Early Learning Center, and with marketing and promotion, among others. At the end of the period, the students gave presentations to our UCM staff about what they had learned and what the experience meant to them." Here are a few comments from our SHOUT volunteers about their experience:
  • "I volunteered at UCM because it creates connections in the community, and you can meet a lot of great, interesting people here."
  • "My mom comes here to get food sometimes for our family. I am very grateful to UCM for helping us."
  • "UCM helps others when they really need it. This is my first time volunteering in the food pantry. The best part is helping others and answering their questions." 
  • "All of us want careers interacting with people. And volunteering at the food pantry was good experience for this.
 Volunteer Opportunities at UCM
Food volunteers!
UCM Food Pantry
Across all our UCM programs, we need and welcome volunteers with a diversity of talents, skill sets, and ages. We host weekly
Volunteer ELC
Early Learning Center
 Volunteer Orientations sessions. Learn about our priority volunteer needs >> 

Visit our Volunteer webpage to learn how you can make a difference, including group activities. Then sign up for an Orientation. Questions or ideas? Contact Emily Griffin at  volunteer@ucmagency.org or 703.768.7106. BackToSchool

Help Kids Succeed ... Our Back to School Campaign is Open!
Donate by Aug. 5 so 800+ kids can be ready!
Summer break has not even started, but our annual Back to School campaign is already underway! Our goal is to outfit 800+ area students with backpacks and supplies -- and we rely on support from our community to make sure they'll have the tools to succeed come September. Download our flyer >> 

We welcome your help with new backpacks and financial donations. Your gift of $40 will outfit one child with basic supplies and a new backpack. Or purchase new backpacks to donate, from the store of your choice -- or shop online now at our UCM Back to School Amazon Wish List, and your items auto ship to UCM! 
Donate Now
Our deadline for donations is Friday, Aug. 5. 

We invite you to join us with a donation that helps our next generation and builds our community of tomorrow.  Your support means much more than school supplies: you give creativity, literacy, empowerment, and self-esteem to vulnerable youth. 

GOTR Belle View
Thank you to the Girls on the Run team at Belle View Elementary School for already donating 35 backpacks, plus $300 for our Back to School campaign! If your family, group, or business would like to donate or organize a Back to School collection drive this summer -- or volunteer -- email Emily Griffin at emily.griffin@ucmagency.org

Sale at Back Porch Thrift Store: June 18 - 25
Sat., June 18 - Sat., June 25
Our UCM Back Porch Thrift Store is a perfect place to find unique items at great prices. Stop "buy" for our current sale. We're sure you'll find something you love!

BP sale ThankYous
Heartfelt Thanks to ...
All of us at UCM are grateful for the outpouring of support, from so many! View photos of other generous supporters and volunteers: click here>>

Do More 24 Supporters
Mamma's Kitchen
We appreciate everyone who donated to UCM on June 2 for Do More 24, the region-wide day of giving hosted by United Way. And we are grateful to Mamma's Kitchen for hosting a UCM Benefit Day that day -- and to everyone who dined out to support us! All funds raised on June 2 benefit the future success of all our Mount Vernon Kids. Thank you!

Senate Federal Credit Union
Thank you to the Marketing Dept. at the US Senate Federal Credit Union. Staff members Ellen and Senate CU image Carrie dropped by with a generous large donation of office supplies, reusable bags, and promotional items that our after-school programs can put to good use. The team is planning a company day of service at UCM for this summer too.

Recent Grant Awards
We are excited to announce the following competitive grant awards. We are grateful for these funders' generosity:
  • Inova Community Health Promotion Fund for a $15,000 grant award for our Eviction Prevention Program that provides rental and utilities assistance to prevent homelessness.
  • Maximus Foundation for its commitment to our community, shown by our recent $5,000 grant award to support our efforts to maximize the academic, social, & physical development of our youngest community members: infants to pre-K students at ourUCM Early Learning Center.

Five Below at Mount Vernon Plaza
Five Below Thank you to Five Below store manager Jimmie Bennett (pictured second from right) for the generous donation of merchandise, as the store moves to its new bigger location at Mount Vernon Plaza. And a special thank you to the volunteer team who gave their time last Saturday. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with the store at the new location, across the parking lot, at the former CVS.
We Love our Young Volunteers! 
Thank you to Girl Scouts Daisy Troop 3954, first graders from Waynewood Elementary, who Daisy 3954 stopped by this month to donate $200 to help feed hungry families -- awesome proceeds from their bake sale! The troop toured our Food Pantry back in January after their rice collection drive and wanted to do more to help. They sure did: we can stretch that $200 even farther with our agency partner discounts to purchase fresh dairy products like eggs for scores of families.

Girl Scout Juniors Troop 4554 selected UCM for their Bronze Award project.  They planned the GS 4554 work to paint our main waiting room, plus helped install new bookshelves -- as well as hosted a drive to collect children's books to fill them. When our client families visit UCM, they are invited to take books home for their kids' home libraries. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, ladies!

Check out our "Kids in the Community" webpage for other awesome community service projects by our young volunteers!
Events to Support UCM
It's easy to keep up with all of our upcoming events on our website: click here>> 

Now to June 30: Smiles for Life at Mt. Vernon Center for Dentistry. 
Whiten your smile at a special discount rate, and proceeds will benefit our children at our  UCM Early Learning Center. Call 703.360.5881 for your appointment or learn more >>  DoMore24

Now to June 30: Mount Vernon "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" Food Drive.  Food Drive
This annual collection drive continues through the end of the month, organized by West Potomac High junior  Will Shute, through St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Last year, more than 2,500 pounds and $2,500+ was collected to help stock UCM's Food Pantry -- and this year's total is well on the way to surpassing that goal. Please give generously, and please help spread the word! If you would like to volunteer -- including teens for community service hours -- contact Will at MtVernonfooddrive@gmail.com.  CoffeeForKids

Join us at Coffee for Children
MVK logo You're invited to join us at Coffee for Children, for a community conversation Coffee for Children to  learn about our Mount Vernon Kids programs directly from our program staff and see the impact of your support for their success. Upcoming dates for our one-hour sessions at our main office at 7511 Fordson Rd. include:  Wed., July 6 at 7pm, and Thurs., Aug. 11 at 7pmAre you a member of a group who would benefit from learning about our programs?  We'd love to host a session at your meeting or location, at your convenience. To RSVP or to host a session at your location, contact Susan at 571.255.8992 or Susan.Johnson@ucmagency.org.

Enjoy a relaxing evening at the brewery, with a percentage of the evening's proceeds to benefit UCM. Event sponsorships available too! Email susan.johnson@ucmagency.org

CS Fresh and Crispy
UCM Benefit Sunday, Nov. 13
Save the Date! Always a Sell-out Crowd!
Capitol Steps Benefit Performance
Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016  -  5pm
Join us at the US PTO in Old Town on the Sunday after the Presidential Election to enjoy the latest political satire! Tickets will go on sale this September at ucmagency.org. For further information or to reserve your event sponsorship, email info@ucmagency.org. Thank you to our hosts, The Friends of UCM!

Keep up with all UCM Events at our website: click here >>
Join Us At the Heart of Community!