The countdown has begun—just a few more days until Christmas is here. Kids here in Charlottesville join with those around the world teeming with excitement awaiting the holiday tradition of gift giving. Christmas is a special time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have. Children especially get excited because it’s also a time to give and receive presents! Some families, however, are not able to give as much to their children as they would like around the holidays. Thanks to ACAC Downtown, families at Friendship Court are receiving gifts through a special gift drive organized by the local athletic center to help bring joy to neighborhood children.
Interested families at Friendship Court were able to sign up for the Christmas gift drive with ACAC. The drive, organized by Assistant General Manager Paul Kyriacopoulos, has been going on for several consecutive years. Claudette Grant, Piedmont Housing Alliance’s Community Organizer at Friendship Court, provided Paul with the names of 100 children. ACAC put each of these names on its own ornament that hung on a Christmas tree in the foyer of the club. Guests could pick an ornament containing a wish list from the child whose name was on the ornament. Patrons returned the gifts to ACAC and the staff there coordinated gift-wrapping and delivery to Friendship Court. There, families are picking up the gifts just in time for Christmas!
In addition to these generous community gifts offered through ACAC members, two neighboring businesses helped three additional Friendship Court families, and Piedmont Housing Alliance assisted by providing gifts for six more Friendship Court children not on the ACAC list.
We thank our downtown neighbors and partners, ACAC, Downtown Family Health Care, b:core methods, and MADabolic, for their support in helping bring Christmas joy to families at Friendship Court.
Happy Holidays to all!
Tory Twitty, Claudette Grant and Sheri Hopper
Daemond Nowlin is one of eight Friendship Court residents on the Youth Leadership Team. The team has been meeting regularly after school since September at the Friendship Court Community Center and is learning many skills to help better their community. The Youth Leadership Program is part of Piedmont Housing Alliance’s resident engagement process for the redevelopment of Friendship Court. The goal is to equip resident youth leaders with the skills to provide input for the redevelopment with particular focus on activity areas, green space, and programming. Youth participants gain valuable skills, experiences, and academic and professional networks that will create educational and career opportunities.
Daemond, 14, attends Charlottesville High School. He is a dedicated football player and is hoping to become an NFL player when he is older. His favorite color is blue and when asked what he would do with a large gift of money, Daemond says he would buy a house and a reliable car. Daemond says he is learning a lot about being a leader while in the program.
Daemond was interested in becoming a member of the Youth Leadership Team because he wants to make a difference in his community.
The Friendship Court Athletic Club (FCAC) visited Ragged Mountain Running Shop to get outfitted with running shoes and socks as they prepare to run the Big Brothers Big Sisters Jingle Bell Relay 2 x 1 mile race on Saturday, December 17. Ten kids, ranging from seven to 11 years old, have been training for the last six weeks, working diligently with their volunteer coaches, Nick Berry and Laura Roller, from Investure LLC. Tory Twitty, activity coordinator at Friendship Court has also been assisting the youth to train for the race. The team quickly grew from six participants to 10 as word spread about the training program. The team recently participated in the Buzz-by-Belmont: Clark 5K race to help them prepare for the Jingle Bell Relay. Friendship Court Community Organizer, Claudette Grant said, “It is exciting to watch the boys grow and take ownership as they participate in this running program. Their energy is contagious.”
Initial guidance and ongoing support comes from Mark Lorenzoni and his team at Ragged Mountain Running Shop. The purchase of the running shoes and socks was made possible through support from Piedmont Housing Alliance and Ragged Mountain. “We loved having the FCAC boys come to the shop and more importantly we love being included in what is quickly becoming a special experience. Thank you again for making Ragged feel like a part of your family and thank you for all you are doing to put smiles on these boys faces,” said Lorenzoni. Mark Lorenzoni and his wife Cynthia have been promoting distance running and fitness in the community since opening their running shop in 1982. They have organized over 500 races for charity including the popular Women’s Four Miler event.
We would like to thank our partners at Investure and Ragged Mountain Running Shop for their support of this program. Come out and help cheer on the kids on December 17!