By Anna Winer, Grady High School College and Career Center Volunteer, with introduction by VHCA Board Member and Tour of Homes Chair Robin Ragland
Each year, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) makes grant awards to a variety of community institutions and individual applicants who serve and enrich the neighborhood. Those awards are supported by funds raised at two resident-based VHCA events, Summerfest and the Tour of Homes.
Being able to make such awards is one of the most rewarding aspects of being the Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee. The Committee has quite a few new committee members this year, as well as eight gracious homeowners who will play host to us the first week in December. Several of them asked me how much money we raise and what we do with it. Many were surprised to hear that over the last decade, the VHCA has provided just over a quarter of a million dollars in grants to our neighborhood schools, public library, parks, partner non-profits, and others. About 45% of that total went to our local public schools.
Annual grants represent only a portion of the initiatives funded by VHCA, but they are important and make a difference to each recipient. Anna Winer, a parent volunteer at Grady High School’s College and Career Center, shares with us (below) how their 2015 grant helped two students further their education.
VHCA congratulates these two worthy recipients for what they’ve accomplished so far in their educational careers and for what they’re sure to accomplish in the future.
Grady High School’s College and Career Center is grateful to have received a generous grant from the VHCA this year, which we used to fund two $500 scholarships for graduating Grady seniors. The Grady CCC Founders Scholarship was established to honor the service, creativity, and passion of the three volunteers who started the CCC in 2006. Applicants each wrote a brief essay describing how they’ve used the resources in the CCC to help them navigate their college search. Volunteers in Grady’s Writing Center evaluated the applications, and the winners were announced at Grady’s pre-graduation ceremony, Visions of the Future, on May 14th. For the past two years, we have awarded a single scholarship, but the VHCA grant allowed us to offer scholarships to two students this year.
The second-place winner was Grace Hawkins, who is headed to UCLA in the fall to study theatre, with an emphasis in directing. Grace wrote in her essay, “The best thing about the CCC is the support structure it provides. The CCC is a place where little things add up, where the path to your goals is taken one step at a time. From lunch periods spent typing essays worked on in sections, the work I accomplished bit by bit in the CCC has added up to the success I now enjoy. Looking back, I feel pride in knowing that I achieved my success myself, but not on my own.”
First-place winner Anna Pozniak immigrated to America from Russia just two years ago when her family won the Green Card Lottery. In that short time she has had to master an unfamiliar American educational system, both high school and the often-daunting college application process. Anna credits the CCC with helping her “pick schools, decipher the paperwork, and connect with the right people,” and she says that the CCC’s “welcoming, supportive atmosphere is infectious,” and that our volunteers are “helpful, encouraging in hard times and genuinely happy with every success.” Anna will attend Purdue University in the fall, where she’ll study industrial engineering.