It is my pleasure to welcome you to Viet-AID TODAY, our first electronic newsletter. Each month, we will highlight one of the many programs that make Viet-AID what it is today – a vibrant organization serving your needs and working with you to improve our local community. This month we will share three inspiring stories from our Youth Programs, including the exciting opportunity our teens have in helping to guide Boston’s budgeting process.
In the months to come, we will highlight our work in real estate, economic development, social services, and civic engagement. There is so much to be proud of, and I invite you to learn more about us by visiting us on the Web at www.VietAID.org, or on Facebook.
I hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Viet-AID TODAY.
Nam Pham, Executive Director
Teens to Help City of Boston Spend
A Million Dollars
Two teens from Viet-AID’s High School Peer Leadership Program will have a very exciting, real-life experience in civic engagement this spring, helping the City of Boston make decisions on how to spend real money. In creating the last budget of his 20 years in office, Mayor Thomas Menino set aside $1 million for capital projects to be allocated entirely by youths. The City has signed an agreement with a non-profit organization called the Participatory Budgeting Project to help launch the Youth Participatory Budgeting Process. According to the City of Boston’s statement, starting in January and running to July, youth from all parts of Boston will come together as a steering committee to “identify projects to improve their communities, vet those projects, consider trade-offs, and vote on how to spend the $1 million.”
Last fall, the City posted an open invitation to all young residents, youth groups and other organizations to apply for membership on the Steering Committee. Viet-AID was very fortunate to have two members of the Youth Program selected to this committee. As peer leaders of Viet-AID’s Leadership Alliance (VALA), Tony Nguyen, a junior year at John D. O’Bryant High School, and Vicky Nguyen (no relation to Tony), a sophomore at the same school will serve as youth representatives on the steering committee. “This is a very exciting opportunity for the young people personally, and for Viet-AID as well,” said Carro Hua, who is the Youth Leadership Coordinator and Americorps Massachusetts Promise fellow. “Tony and Vicky will gain a hands-on civic experience along with their other peers as they will also participate in the general participatory budgeting process and as the process unfolds, we will have the opportunity to witness the important impact to our neighborhoods led by young people.”
As of this writing, the Youth Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee will have had its first meeting, launching this groundbreaking program. When the program concludes later this year, decisions will have been made on a million dollars worth of tangible improvements in the City of Boston. We at Viet-AID are so pleased to know that our young people will have played a part in developing those plans.
New Preschool Class to Open in March!
The Au Co Preschool is happy to announce that we will open a new class early this year! Viet-AID has been running the Au Co Preschool in Dorchester for more than 10 years, and we have always had a long waiting list for enrollment.
However, children’s education cannot wait, and Viet-AID sees the very great need for affordable, licensed bilingual early education. So in order to increase capacity and provide services to more families, Viet-AID has been preparing to expand Au Co preschool. After a year-long effort, on January 7th the Au Co Preschool Expansion was approved by the Zoning Board! We are expecting to open a new bilingual class for 20 children aged 2.9 to 5 years in March, with 1,300 square feet of newly renovated space!
If you are interested in further information, please contact Trang Nguyen at 617-822-3717 Ext. 16.
Learning is Fun!
The youth in our After School Program enjoy a major field trip each spring, fall, and winter term. This winter, we took our elementary school students to the Boston Children’s Museum! The 33 kids on the excursion were split up into small groups, and each group explored the museum in their own way. The Boston Children’s Museum provides a wide variety of educational exhibits that allow kids to learn by playing, on many subjects including science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and art.
One of the largest and most attractive exhibits to kids is the “New Balance Climb,” a 3-story climbing sculpture made of flowing curved platforms. The exhibit provides a safe environment for taking risks, and the children are both challenged and excited as they try to find the best path.
Another very popular exhibit is the “Bubble,” which provides children with many different tools and surfaces to learn how to create different sized bubbles. They get to learn some basic science while solving problems through observation and effort. It was more than just a fun experience, it was also a meaningful field trip. Our kids had a most delightful time at the Boston Children’s Museum.
Au Co Preschool Christmas Party
Christmas is always the kids’ favorite holiday! Last month, Au Co preschool held a Christmas Party, inviting all the children and parents to have fun together. At the party, each of the Ladybugs, Butterflies and Ducklings classes of kids performed cute song-
and-dance shows that put a sparkle in everyone’s eyes.
Of course, Christmas means GIFTS!
This year, Viet-AID was grateful to
receive 200 toys from Toys for Tots. Every kid received a secret wrapped gift. Actually, each gift was carefully selected by the teachers according to each child’s favorite. This party was a great opportunity for parents to join the children’s school time, and have the chance to meet other parents. The party was filled with love, and put a giant smile on each child’s face.