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Summer Learning is Fun!
Enriching Activities for Community Center Youth
Experts agree that children who read during summer gain skills, while those who do not often slide
Source:  EducationVoyager.com
back. Students from low-income families experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than two months. These kids suffer greater "Summer Slide," and the cumulative effect of that learning loss increases each summer.

Thanks to our generous volunteers and community partners, this summer more than 75 youth are benefiting from the structured learning environment at UCM's two community centers. They are enjoying special field trips, and other enrichment activities that keep their young minds active.

MS Store
Creekside Youth at Microsoft
"Our educational programs are a safe haven for children of working parents who may not otherwise have affordable care," says Deborah Finley, Supervisor at UCM's Creekside Community Center, where children ages five to thirteen can participate. 
Children in our community center programs receive a healthy lunch, in partnership with Fairfax County's Free Summer Lunch Program.

A generous gift of $4,759 from the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club helps to cover costs for educational summer field trips. Other community partners include First AME Church and the My Brother's Keeper Program at Alfred Street Baptist Church. Youth at Creekside Village Community Center enjoyed a special trip this month to the Microsoft Store at Pentagon City, with others planned to the National Zoo and Museum of Natural History.

The Summer Youth Program curriculum at our Sacramento Neighborhood Center (SNC) is focused
SNC Rockets
Building Rockets at SNC
on STEAM for first to eighth graders, for development of critical thinking, math and science skills, art and design, and confidence-building. New activities for the youth at SNC include a reading camp, creative writing, and an art program in partnership with teachers from Washington Mill Elementary. Last week, the youth had the opportunity to build and launch rockets with Northern Virginia's Engineering for Kids program.  Field trips planned include
 the National Zoo, Luray Caverns, and Bowl America. 

Coming Soon! Night at the Museum
An SNC Night at the Museum event is being planned for late August, which will feature our summer youth's art exhibition, under the tutelage of Barbara Bonnet, Summer Program Resident Artist. Stay tuned for the date and details to help us celebrate the creativity of our youngest community members!

Parents are grateful for your support. "The activities at the center help my family and my neighbors to raise healthy and smart kids," one mother tells us. 

We invite you to be part of the success of our Mount Vernon Kids. Join us at an upcoming Coffee for Children session to learn how you can help -- or make your donation today. Together, we stabilize, empower, and engage kids and families to inspire their success. BackToSchool

Help Kids Succeed ... Our Back to School Campaign is Open!
Donate by Aug. 5 so our Mount Vernon Kids can be Ready for School!
Backpacks daily
New backpacks and donations are arriving daily for our annual Back to School campaign! Our goal is to outfit 800 area students with backpacks and supplies. We rely on support from our community to make sure they'll have the tools to succeed.

We especially appreciate the many groups hosting collection drives for us.  The Five Below store at Mount Vernon Plaza shopping center has already delivered more than 200 backpacks to us -- all generously donated by their customers when asked at the checkout register to support UCM's Mount Vernon Kids! Other collection drives include
Thanks, Five Below!
Thank you, Five Below!
Aldersgate Vacation Bible School, Girls on the Run at Belle View Elementary School (35 backpacks and $300 in June), Plymouth Haven Vacation Bible School, St. James Episcopal Church, and Vornado/ Charles E. Smith (Crystal City).

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

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. 

If your family, group, or business would like to donate or organize a Back to School collection drive this summer, email Emily Griffin at emily.griffin@ucmagency.org. We are also recruiting volunteers to help organize supplies and pack and distribute backpacks.  Email Emily or register for a timeslot with our UCM Signup Genius form.  BatttelleUCMscholars
Congratulations, Scholarship Awardees!
2016 Battelle-UCM STEM Scholars
Twins photo
Twins Marguerite and Jacinda Djossou were West Potomac High SHOUT volunteers . They attended Pre-K at our Early Learning Center!
Thanks to a $20,000 gift from Battelle, five graduating high school seniors have received a Battelle-UCM STEM Scholarship. These competitive college scholarships are designed to encourage graduating high school seniors at Bryant Alternative, Mount Vernon and West Potomac High Schools to attain higher education, with a focus on on STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and the potential for future employment success.

"Higher education means higher wages and is a key connector to financial and family independence for vulnerable youth and families," says Nichelle A. Mitchem, UCM Executive Director. Battelle-UCM scholars "Our scholarship programs focus on keeping vulnerable youth and families moving 
forward to self-reliance. We are grateful to have this partnership and the support of Battelle. Their team truly understands corporate philanthropy and the power it has to empower people to create a better future for themselves."

Scholarships in the amount of several thousand dollars were awarded to each student, the first in their families to attend college. Pictured at UCM are Battelle-UCM Scholars: (from left) Imad Merveil Nabile Arouna, Marguerite Djossou, and Sarah Yankson, with Battelle's Regina B. Schofield and UCM's Deputy Executive Director Elizabeth McNally.

Our Class of 2016 awardees are:

Mount Vernon High School
  • Imad Merveil Nabile Arouna, with plans to major in Electrical Engineering and attend Northern Virginia Community College for the first two years.
  • Faizan Tariq, with plans to major in Computer Science Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. 
West Potomac High School
  • Marguerite Djossou, who will pursue a degree in biology at Virginia Tech and then medical school.
  • Jacinda Djossouwho will pursue a degree in biology at Virginia Tech and then medical school.
  • Sarah Yankson, with plans to studying nursing at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Congratulations all! HealthyFamiliesGrads
Congratulations to our Newest Healthy Families!
Healthy Families Fairfax Graduates 11 Children


"Often I think back to me as that 16-year-old girl who didn't know the first thing about being a parent. About the teen me who had the dysfunctional family and limited support. I think about where she would have been -- where I would have been -- had I not had the UCM Healthy Families program. More important, I think about where my child would have been. I didn't have the knowledge and resources and support that I needed to be a great parent -- and my Healthy Families Support Worker gave me that."   - Aira, UCM Healthy Families mom

We are so proud of our 2016 Healthy Families Fairfax graduates and their accomplishments for positive parenting skills! "Families identified as at-risk for child neglect who graduate from our home-visiting program are proven to have healthier children and better parent-child interactions," says Judith Reggiardo, UCM program supervisor.

Several of the 11 children and their families are pictured above with their UCM Family Support Workers  at our Mount Vernon celebration in June. Healthy Families Fairfax is just one of our Mount Vernon Kids programs that helps kids and families create better futures for themselves. Read Aira's story here >>  EnrollingNow
UCM Early Learning Center: Enrolling Now!
Planting the Seeds of Success Since 1986
Our UCM Early Learning Center provides quality early care and learning in an enriching UCM Early Learning environment for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. Our special emphasis on social-emotional development ensures our students are prepared to learn when they enter Kindergarten, creating a strong foundation for the rest of their education.

All our classrooms utilize The Creative Curriculum, which is designed to maximize academic, social, and physical development for infants to preschoolers.  Project-based, this curriculum introduces kids to new learning experiences, including motivation and questioning techniques for hands-on Clothing Unit ELC learning that leads young minds into higher thinking learning. Research shows that the longer a young child is exposed to this curriculum, the better the outcomes, especially higher literacy and mathematics scores in Kindergarten. 

This month our Pre-K students completed the Clothing Unit, which included learning about fabrics and textures, patterns, sizes, seasons, colors, sewing and how clothes are made, a fashion show, weaving with paper, and more! View more photos at our gallery >> 

Enrolling Now!
Our Center provides cohesive learning for infants and toddlers as the foundation for Kindergarten
Crazy Hair Day
Director Ms. Torria
and beyond, exceeding the Virginia Preschool Initiative standard. We have openings for all ages and are enrolling now! 
If you or someone you know is interested  -- or can help us to spread the word -- please call the Center at 703.765.0909, or email Center Director Torria Baker at torria.baker@ucmagency.org

That's Ms. Torria, at right, on "Crazy Hair Day" -- featuring Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, one of her favorite books. She'd love to give you a tour to see our program and students in action! View more photos here >>  VolunteerUCM
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. 

Our Young Volunteers
We have opportunities for all ages to volunteer to support UCM.  Our young volunteer Jayden Bowers attends Belle View Elementary School and hosts an annual summer Food Drive in his neighborhood. He decided to ask for boxes of low-sugar cereal this summer.
Jayden Cereal
Jayden with UCM's Emily Griffin and Food Pantry Manager Raymond Shepherd

Jayden and his parents recently delivered 2 full carloads of cereal to UCM, for a grand total of 261 boxes.  "The Food Pantry manager told me that cereal is a good choice to donate, because it is a nbutritious meal -- and the boxes aren't as heavy for people to collect as cans of food," Jayden tells us.  "Plus, each person can pick out their favorite kind of cereal! Mine is Chex. On my big chart of the UCM truck, each box is really multiplied by 3 to represent all 261 boxes of cereal we collected."  

Youth age 14 and older can volunteer at our Food Pantry Jaydenby themselves. "Younger children in families or groups like Scouts are welcome with adults, including for community service hours for school or other reasons," says UCM Volunteer Coordinator, Emily Griffin. "Here's an idea for families with very young children: make flyers and host a food drive, or a used kids book drive, in your neighborhood.  The hours you spend preparing for and publicizing your drive count as volunteer hours too!"

 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 >> 

Right now, we especially need aides and teaching assistants at our UCM Early Learning Center (flexible hours available to fit your busy schedule).

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. ThriftStoreSales

Sales at Back Porch Thrift Store
50% Off Furniture, Tues., July 26 - Sat., July 30
Our UCM Back Porch Thrift Store is a perfect place to find unique items at great prices. Stop "buy" for our current sale -- or check the store website at www.backporchthrift.org.
BP Furniture 50%
Be sure to like our Back Porch Thrift Store facebook page: click here >>
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>>

Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club
MV Kiwanis
Thank you to the management at the Safeway Hollin Hall and the Mount Vernon Kiwanis members for hosting another Food Drive on Sat., July 16. Despite the terrible heat, an amazing 1,100+ pounds was collected! The club's next drive at Safeway is Sat., Aug. 20.

Mount Vernon Council #5998 Knights of Columbus 
KofC logo
Thank you to the Knights of Columbus for a generous gift of $1,100, as part of the annual proceeds from charity events including bingo nights.

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
Arcadia Farm Camp
Arcadia Farm Camp
At least one or two times a week, our UCM Food Pantry Manager Raymond stops by Aracadia Farm at Woodlawn to pick up donations of fresh organic vegetables or other produce.  We are grateful for our community partnership to feed and help families in need. This month, more than 15 of our youngest community members are attending Arcadia Farm Camp, thanks to scholarships for low-income families. Blanca Vasquez, our UCM Community Developer, worked with families in the Opportunity Neighborhood Mount Vernon initiative to help complete their applications.  More photos soon!

Good Shepherd Catholic Church Sharing Sunday
Thank you to all our friends at Good Shepherd Catholic Church for your monthly "Sharing Sunday" collection for UCM. In July, the donation was more than 1,320 pounds, plus the parish's new "Sharing Garden" has started donating fresh healthy squash and other veggies!

We Love our Young Volunteers! 
Thank you to Brownie Troop 1114   from Fort Hunt Elementary School for a big donation of Brownies 1114 FH children's books from their Book Drive before school was out for summer. "We are so glad that we could help our local community and we would love to work with UCM again.  The girls were so excited to bring their favorite books to others," one of the troop leaders told us. "For several of them, the realization that many of those folks who benefit from UCM could be their next door neighbor, really hit home with them."  We place donated books on the book shelves in our Food Pantry waiting area, with the invitation to families and children to take a few for their own home libraries.  Thank you, Brownies, for your thoughtfulness!

When the youth at our Creekside Village Community Center learned about the need for plastic
Creekside volunteers
Creekside Village Youth
and recycle bags at our Back Porch Thrift Store and for food distributed at our Food Pantry, they decided to collect bags from families in Creekside. And now they have formed a new "Youth at Work" initiative. We appreciate their thoughtfulness to help out!

swim team Thank you to the Waynewood Dolphins Swim Team for the 378 pounds they collected for us at their recent food drive! 

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>> 

Food Drive
Shoppers Mount Vernon Plaza
Sat., July 23:  Food Drive at Shoppers Mount Vernon Plaza - 9am - 3pm
Shoppers Logo Help stock our Food Pantry! Stop "buy" Shoppers Food on Richmond Highway this Saturday, with food or a cash/check donation (payable to UCM "Food"). Thank you to the store management and to our volunteer team from Hope United Community Church for staffing the drive! If you'd like to host a drive, email emily.griffin@ucmagency.org.

Now to July 31: Mount Vernon "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" Food Drive
NHN 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. So far, the totals exceed last year:  more than 3,700 pounds and more than $2,000 to help stock UCM's Food Pantry.  Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters. Please give generously.  Email Will with questions or if you can help pick up and deliver donations to UCM:  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 one-hour sessions at our main office at 7511 Fordson Rd. include:  Thurs., Aug. 11 or Wed., Sept. 28 at 7pm.  Are 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!