May 17, 2017

Fifteen-year old Ashley Velasquez is a resident at Lafayette Apartments in Williamsburg, Va. and frequently uses the on-site community center after school. The center, which is staffed with a resident services coordinator and an assistant, provides support to residents through programming focused on education, health and wellness, financial stability, and social and environmental stewardship.

Velasquez said her introduction to the community center came when she was given a book bag full of school supplies, but initially “didn’t care about my grades and the tools it took to learn the materials in my class.” That all changed after she started going to the community center for assistance with her studies. There, student volunteers from the College of William and Mary known as the “Bigs” helped Velasquez with her homework. According to Velasquez, she had a “C” average in English that rose to a “B,” thanks to help from the Bigs.

In addition to aid with school work, Velasquez also befriended resident services coordinator Kelsey Thompson, who often provided encouragement and moral support. “I get to talk to Ms. Kelsey about my problems and she always gives me positive feedback,” said Velasquez.

“Girl Scouts at the community center have also impacted my life in a positive way,” added Velasquez. “So far, I have learned the importance of a sister bond, friendship, and entrepreneurship.”

Velasquez concluded by saying, “I just want to thank Ms. Kelsey, the William and Mary students, and the Girl Scouts, for teaching me and giving me great advice.”