Grieving Mom and Daughter Find Stability and Hope

Grieving Mom and Daughter Find Stability and Hope

Ava is a 6th grade student who began participating in Friendly Center’s tutoring program a few months after losing her father to COVID-19.

The devastating loss left Ava shattered. She felt disconnected from others and unmotivated to engage in schoolwork. Ava’s mom, Jacqueline, found it difficult to keep Ava inspired, as she was struggling tremendously herself. Not only was Jacqueline grappling with the tragedy of losing of her husband, but she now, suddenly, had to find a way to pay rent and meet their basic needs; something that was difficult for the family even before the pandemic.

When the school year ended in June 2020, Ava barely advanced to the next grade, having amassed many missing assignments and absences. She was also diagnosed with depression during this time.

It was after the diagnosis that Ava and Jacqueline were referred to Friendly Center, where they were connected with Alejandra, a Family Support Advocate. Alejandra helped connect Jacqueline to resources like counseling for both herself and Ava, food assistance, and rental assistance.

Alejandra also connected them to Friendly Center’s tutoring program, The Power of Me, which by that point was gearing up for a virtual format for the 2020-2021 school year. The new format would allow tutors (working from a tutoring computer hub at Friendly Center) and students to work one-on-one together via video chat, rather than having the program in a virtual classroom with multiple students. This way, the support could be more specialized and different than what the students were already experiencing during school hours.

When Ava first started the program, staff shares that she was reluctant and timid. But after a few sessions with tutors, she began to open up and started looking forward to each session.

Natalie Alvarado, Friendly Center’s Education Program Specialist, shares that after a few weeks in the program, “we noticed a difference in Ava’s personality, she was more joyful and positive. Her mom also noticed the difference, telling us she was ecstatic about the many improvements her daughter made.”  

Natalie adds that “the tutoring program is not only a place that offers academic assistance, but a place where our students can be themselves and feel welcome.”

Ava is still participating in the program today and is among the students in The Power of Me’s new Bird Scouts program – where a group of students engage in birdwatching from their neighborhoods and complete concurrent science lessons, sharing their findings with their tutors and fellow Bird Scouts.

Ava and Jacqueline have benefited greatly from Friendly Center’s wraparound approach, which helps families in crisis find stability in multiple areas of need and the opportunity to thrive.