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All that Jazz!

ACLAMO Students and Staff Watch “Junie B. Jones”

ACLAMO Executive Director Nelly Jimenez-Arevalo has been meeting with faculty and administrators at Montgomery County Community College to find ways that ACLAMO students can be introduced to the many and varied educational and cultural programs offered by the college.

Future newsletters will contain articles describing the fruits of this discussion.

In January, 45 ACLAMO students  were invited to the college’s Blue Bell campus to enjoy a performance of the musical “Junie B. Jones”, inspired by the series of novels by the same name.  It was the first time many of the students had seen a high quality theatrical production.

ACLAMO Culinary Celebration

May 1, 2016 -- 3:00 - 6:00 P.M.

ACLAMO Family Centers and The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College are gathering some of the best chefs in the region to prepare their specialty dishes for this event.

Guests will enjoy a wide variety of delicious food with each chef supplying a dish inspired by the Latino tradition.  In addition, there will be an auction and music with a Latino rhythm.

Tickets are $100 and will be on sale soon.  This event will be held in College Hall on the Blue Bell campus of Montgomery County Community College.

Seating will be limited, so plan to purchase tickets early.  More details to come, but remember – May 1 is the date!!

Valentines from Jenkintown High

newsletter-jenkintown-021316Since many ACLAMO students attend the after school program for consecutive years, there is an amazing amount of “institutional memory”.  So as Valentine’s Day drew near, teachers were asked if there was going to be a party.

Happily the answer was yes!

In 2016, Jenkintown High School Spanish teacher Richard Detwiler and his students continued their long tradition of organizing this event.

They provided four activity stations for making Valentine cards, for decorating cookies, for games and for making buttons.  Background and dancing music rounded out an exciting event to be added to the children’s institutional memory!

Panama Canal Expansion is Important to ACLAMO Volunteer Robert Pace

Teddy Roosevelt at original canal.

Teddy Roosevelt at original canal.

Artistic rendering of expanded canal.

Artistic rendering of expanded canal.

On August 15, 1914, the first ships moved through the Panama Canal. This spring a massive modernization and expansion of the Canal will be completed. The “Third Set of Locks Project” will double the waterway’s capacity, allowing passage by ships one and one-half times the size of vessels which have used the canal in the past.

The seaport at Philadelphia and those at other port cities along the East Coast have been preparing their facilities to accommodate the new traffic. This is of great practical interest to ACLAMO volunteer Robert Pace.

Pace recently retired after a long career with the U.S. Corps of Engineers during which he worked in Washington D.C., Germany and Tanzania on projects dealing with environmental issues in water supply, flood control, navigation and wetlands management.  Today, he still serves as a consultant as preparations for the larger ships is underway.

Robert in Ecuador.

In college and graduate school, Robert studied geology and has enjoyed presenting hands-on activities in geology to ACLAMO students. He spends at least one day a week helping students with reading and math in the after school program.  He also has experience writing and has been a great help to Executive Director Nelly Jimenez as she formulates program proposals in preparation for grant applications.

“Volunteers are a vital part of our team,” explains Nelly. “Because talented workers like Robert Pace volunteer their time, ACLAMO can offer a wide range of very high quality programs to families with very limited financial means.”

Comcast Supports Digital Education

Executive Director Nelly Jimenez discusses the digital education center with Comcast executives Janet Steiner and William Bronson.

Executive Director Nelly Jimenez discusses the digital education center with Comcast executives Janet Steiner and William Bronson.

Generous grants from Comcast allowed ACLAMO to expand its digital education center and to upgrade its internet connection and computer security system.

Computer literacy is a vital part of education and ACLAMO’s 15 computers and eight laptops are in constant demand.

Younger students work on school assignments and educational games, while adults learn the basic applications they will need to compete in the workplace.

The important “Digital Connections” program also teaches adults and children how to safely use the internet to find information relating to education, employment and participation in civic life.

Executive Leadership and All That Jazz

The rich, smoky tones of classical jazz singers like Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson are never far from PECO’s Manager of Corporate Relations, Romona Riscoe Benson.  Since her days growing up in New York City, classical jazz has been a deep part of her life.  Her natural talent as a jazz singer even allowed her to help pay her way through college.  Today Romona is a well-known jazz vocalist in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Romona Riscoe Benson

However classical jazz is only one facet of Romona Benson’s life.  Her upbringing in New York City also gave her the opportunity to listen to her grandparents share stories of how they grew up in South Carolina and then moved to New York City in search of a better life.  Her grandparent’s home became the focus for family members who followed them north.  Romona often listened to her grandparents and her mother tell of the family’s struggles to overcome very difficult odds.  This personal history imbued Romona with a deep commitment to strong family values, hard work, and standing up for basic human rights and fair treatment.

This commitment has guided Romona through over 25 years of executive leadership, including serving as Executive Director of the Multicultural Affairs Congress, Senior Director of Visitor Services and Community Relations of the New Jersey State Aquarium, President and CEO of the African American Museum and now leading a team managing corporate relations at PECO.

In that role, Romona and team member Tiffany Tavarez have provided ACLAMO’s Executive Director Nelly Jimenez and Board President Houghton Kane with important encouragement and support.

“We are proud to be a key partner with ACLAMO as it advances its mission to support families in Montgomery County.  It is important work that I, personally, appreciate.  Thanks to the great effort of its leadership, staff and board.  We look forward to continuing the relationship.”

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