Connections: July 2019—Immigrant Initiative Helps Local Teen​

Meeting House helps a “starfish on the beach”

Olivia Michener has coordinated volunteer efforts and the allocation of funds from the Meeting House’s Family-to-Family Ministry for several years.

The program—staffed solely by Meeting House member volunteers and funded by our congregation’s generosity—assists residents of Alexandria and nearby communities with emergency expenses related to rent, utilities, medical and dental appointments and procedures, job-related needs, and necessary transportation.

Now, through her leadership within Family-to-Family, Olivia has sparked another Meeting House mission project: our immigrant and refugee assistance program.

Her interest was piqued during a meeting of representatives from local emergency financial providers, as well as a joint meeting she attended with the principal of T.C. Williams High School and social workers.

Subsequently, the Meeting House has now partnered with our Old Town neighbor churches, Christ Church and St. Paul’s Episcopal, to sponsor a promising student. This assistance helps enable him to stay in school and graduate rather than leaving school to cover his living expenses.

The immigrant children coming to this country often seem far removed from our help. However, right here in Alexandria is this opportunity to support a better future for a student.

Olivia Michener

That future is made brighter through T.C. Williams’ International Academy, a program designed to help recent immigrants learn English while also working toward on-time graduation to prepare them for college and/or careers. The Academy differs from traditional English-as-a-second language (ESL) programs in that its students are integrated into heterogeneously mixed, credit-bearing classes with native English-speaking students. This accelerates their learning of academic English while they simultaneously work their way through a rigorous curriculum of content.

Olivia reports that the student that the Meeting House and its cosponsors help support is “personable, diligent, and committed to his new country.”

“Each day after finishing his classes at T.C.,” she says, “he gets on a bus and rides to Arlington to work at a pizza shop. After work, he returns alone to the room he rents in a house to study.”

Despite only being in the U.S. for two-and-a-half years, Olivia says this rising senior is an honor student with excellent attendance and comportment records.

In years to come, Olivia hopes that this budding ministry will grow and its impact will be felt throughout the community. But it all starts with this one student.

“It’s like the story of the starfish on the beach: throwing one starfish back in the ocean saves that starfish.”

This program is only possible because of your donations, so to learn more and find out how you can help, please contact Olivia Michener.