By Vyllorya Evans

Above, (Left to right) Vyllorya
Evans, Samantha O’Sullivan, Philip
O’Sullivan, Edward (Ned) Yarsky,
Donja Wilkinson, Kendall Parks, and
Jan Adams; Courtesy of Author

The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly Education and Scholarship Task Force (SWNA ESTF) held its Spring Scholarship Awards Program on Friday, Jan. 3, at the offices of JMA Solutions in Southwest DC. Hosted by JMA Solutions President and CEO Jan Adams, the well-attended program was in honor of long-time former SW resident Dale MacIver, a dedicated and committed member of both ESTF and the SWNA Youth Activities Task Force (SWNA YATF). 

MacIver, 96, passed away in Nov. 2019. One of the program’s highlights was the awarding of 18 individual college scholarships of  $500 to SW students (Zip Code 20024), and hearing the recipients share their stories of hopes, ambitions, challenges, and areas of improvement. JMA Solutions Chief Operating Officer (COO) Avis Dillard-Bullock provided the welcome, which was followed by an enjoyable lunch that gave scholarship recipients an opportunity to network with audience members. There were also giveaways that will no doubt benefit the students at home and in school. 

ESTF Member and Program Chair, Peri Hamlin, introduced Adams, who shared an inspiring and informative PowerPoint presentation that focused on the meaning, purpose, and overall importance of a mentor in a student’s life. Adams encouraged the students to not only seek out mentors but also be mentors themselves to those they know might benefit and appreciate the effort. 

An integral part of the program included Adams moderating a thought-provoking and inspiring panel discussion with her staff, affording the students a real-life opportunity to hear about the duties, responsibilities and roles each staff played in JMA Solutions’s successes and accomplishments. The panelists included Avis Dillard-Bullock, COO; Bear Afkhami, Capture Manager; Iman Brown, Marketing Coordinator; Jacob Borenstein, Executive Assistant; and Christopher Dorsey, Invoice Specialist. The panelists also shared their strengths, areas of improvements, personal insights with mentorship and how it has benefited them throughout their careers. Afterwards, the panelists entertained a variety of questions and comments on mentorship and life during college and after graduation. 

The 2020 SWNA ESTF scholarship recipients were Sam Anderson, Raven Berry, Monique Chambers, Dannielle Crutchfield, Nicla De Biasi, Daytia Foote, Christopher Johnson, Omar Mahmound, Jade Miles, Nicolas Moses, Philip O’ Sullivan, Samantha O’Sullivan, Kendall Parks, Najma Pettiford, Dayonna Queen, Aaliyah Wilkinson, Donja Wilkinson, and Edward “Ned” Yarsky. A special congratulations was extended to 2019 Winter SWNA ESTF Graduate, Roman Hamilton, who is off to a promising and great start employment with ValueMomentum, an IT services provider.

At right, (Left to Right) Iman Brown,
Christopher Dorsey, Avis DillardBullock, Bear Afkhami, Jacob Borenstein, and Jan Adams; Courtesy of Author

ESTF Chair Vyllorya Evans and ESTF Member Delmar Weathers joined Adams in presenting the awards to the students which, as indicated, was done in memory of Mentor Dale MacIver. ESTF Member and SWNA YATF Chairperson Thelma D. Jones gave a tribute to MacIver on the impact he had on the Southwest community as mentor and second father to several individuals who called Southwest their home. 

ESTF salutes and thanks JMA Solutions for supporting and hosting the awards program. Since 2015, JMA Solutions has donated over $30,000 to ESTF and continues to heed our call for support, including providing in-kind services. 

Also, a special thanks to the ESTF Members and parents who were present, including SWNA Technology Task Force Chair, Perry Klein, who, among other things, awards laptops to college students in need of the service. 

Finally, a special thanks to Peter Eicher, Vice President of the Friends of Southwest DC. Since 1999, Friends of Southwest DC has contributed $50,000 to ESTF. Indeed, we mourn the recent loss of Friends of Southwest DC Founding Member and President Coralie Farlee. She will be missed dearly for her generous support to ESTF, YATF, SWNA Technology Task Force and the SW community in general. 

To make a tax-deductible donation to this worthy cause, please make your check payable to SWNA, noting Scholarship in the memo line, and mail it to: SWNA Scholarship Fund, PO Box 70131, Washington, DC 20024-0131.

Thelma D. Jones and Derek Tawiah contributed to this article

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