Summer Bridge Program
Summer is a challenging time for ACLAMO families, since both parents usually work and meaningful, safe activities for children are difficult or impossible to arrange.
ACLAMO steps in each summer to provide education, field trips and recreation at no charge for children from the first through the tenth grades. Breakfast and lunch are also provided.
From July 5 to August 12, eighty-five children are enjoying a range of age-appropriate activities.
ACLAMO is partnering with the Franklin Institute, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, the Norristown Zoo and the Norristown water treatment plant to provide educational field trips.
An example of the educational components provided is a leadership and physics activity called "Marshmallow Challenge", which was led by volunteers Joanne and Samantha Ryder from Dow Chemical Company.
Students were supplied with marshmallows, tape, and dry spaghetti and given a limited time to see how high they could build a structure which would sustain a marshmallow.
A special addition to this summer's program is a weekly trip to conduct educational activities at the Morris Arboretum. This activity is funded by a $10,000 grant from Wells Fargo Bank and led by teachers from Morris Arboretum.
ACLAMO is particularly pleased at the layered learning which can be accomplished due to the fact that visits will be repeated weekly over the course of the Bridge Program.
ACLAMO partners with Philadelphia based HIAS Pennsylvania, which has worked since 1882 to create a welcoming and secure environment for immigrants and their families. Two days each month, a staff member from HIAS Pennsylvania travels to Norristown to provide information and possible legal representation to ACLAMO families.
Sponsored through "PA is READY", special information sessions are being scheduled throughout Montgomery County and surrounding areas. In June a group of nine volunteers, including two attorneys, met at ACLAMO's Pottstown location for special training by Philippe Weisz, Managing Attorney at HIAS Pennsylvania. Later that day, 30 Pottstown community members were interviewed, basic information was given and questions answered.
Portrait Photographer Volunteers
ACLAMO is always seeking volunteers who can enrich its programming with their talents. Photographer Isabel Espinoza is one such volunteer.
Born in Queretaro, Mexico, Isabel now lives in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Board member Marisol Perez introduced Isabel to ACLAMO and she volunteered to be the official photographer at the May 1 Culinary Celebration.
"I love portrait photography because it is so challenging," Isabel explains.
If The Shoes Fits...
Taking a child shopping for new shoes can be a difficult and sometimes a frustrating experience. Imagine purchasing shoes for 85 children, when all you have is a list of names and shoe sizes!
That is the challenge taken on by Arlete Fancio, Ivonne Jimenez and Miguel Cacho of Pfizer, joined by Dow scientist Griselle Montañez.
These four dedicated volunteers heard that the Summer Bridge students needed new shoes. So, they obtained a list of students and shoe sizes and distributed this information to their fellow employees.
The community minded scientists of Dow and Pfizer did the rest. Delighted ACLAMO families watched as, one by one, the students donned their new footwear.
Golf Goddess - And More
A short conversation with Sonia Mastros will suffice to discover that she is passionate about four things: her family, entrepreneurship, helping others and golf.
With roots in Puerto Rico, Sonia relishes her Latino commitment to strong family ties. She is deeply involved in many aspect of the lives of over twenty family members - including her three children, eight grandchildren and a host of other relatives. Her Mother's Day request for 2016 was a huge family outing and picnic, which she enjoyed immensely.
Sonia's single mom had no time for nonsense or lazy children. Sonia was working at age 12 and watched her mother scrape together enough money to rent and then purchase a restaurant in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her mother ultimately came to own 6 properties. Sonia has followed her mother's example of hard work. She and her husband, George, own Orbit Software, Inc. and have developed software which provides bus scheduling and GPS tracking to over 200 customer school districts in 27 states and Canada.
An officer in St. Andrew United Methodist Church, Sonia supports numbers of non profit organizations and is a generous member of Amigos de ACLAMO. This summer, she is opening the facilities of Orbit Software to offer classes in computer programming and mathematics as a part of ACLAMO's summer program for Pottstown children.
"My goal," she smiles, "is to retire at 55, sell my business, volunteer to advise small businesses through SCORE, and become a pilot so I can fly to play golf anywhere I wish!" Her passion for golf is so evident that her employees call her "Golf Goddess".