Posts By: Abbie Schaefer

Save the Date: 28th Annual Tennis Ball – A VIRTUAL Event!

On November 14th, the 2020 Tennis Ball will take place as a VIRTUAL EVENT, and will be “Mask-Eurade” themed. After all, if masks are part of our new normal, we may as well make it fun!

Secure your sponsorship for the 2020 Virtual Tennis Ball, and help us make history. Celebrate with friends… or party from your couch! This year, we are bringing the annual Tennis Ball gala to YOU! Join us for the 2020 Virtual Tennis Ball and help fuel bright futures for our Dreamers! 

For more information about the event and sponsorship opportunities please visit tennisball.org.

Achievements | Summer 2020

The Summer 2020 edition of Achievements is here! Read all about the latest at An Achievable Dream, including our COVID-19 response, and stories of our Dreamers and alumni who are still thriving in the midst of this season!

Casey Auto Group Provides Summer Experience for An Achievable Dream Alumni

An Achievable Dream has always had a wonderful relationship with Art Casey and Casey Auto Group.This summer, Mr. Casey took a challenge and turned it into an opportunity for An Achievable Dream alumni! 

With the pandemic, extra emphasis was placed on sanitation and cleanliness at all Casey dealerships. To tackle this project, Mr. Casey hired six AAD alumni to sanitize door handles, waiting areas, and other high traffic areas of the dealership to make sure customers felt more comfortable about being in the dealership during the summer. 

These alumni were given the nickname of the “Casey Sanitation Crew” and they immediately made a great impression on all who came into contact with them in their roles. These students’ strong work ethic translated so well in the dealerships that additional opportunities in the parts department and customer service center were also made available to the alumni employees!

Jordan Alston is one alumni who had the opportunity to work in the parts department at Casey Chevrolet assisting with call-in orders, inventory checks, and even driving the parts truck. 

“An Achievable Dream helped prepare me. I learned to pay attention to detail. An Achievable Dream also taught me integrity. Here we have the freedom to do what we want at our own pace, but because of the integrity that we learned, we do our work promptly,” Alston said. “It’s like having the perfect last name. It makes a lot of things possible, a lot of doors open because they already know we’re awesome because we went to Achievable Dream. I’ve always heard to network, but here I’ve learned the importance. We have met a lot of people and they are teaching and helping us with our personal cars as well. This experience reminds me to remember where I came from and connect with it.”

Shirelle Linzy, who worked at Casey Toyota said, “It’s very important for me to represent AAD very well in this position because they are the reason I am here and they stand for something greater than me! I am honored to be able to represent AAD.” 

Our alumni have all excelled in their rolls at Casey Auto group this summer and have truly represented AAD well in doing so!

“Casey Auto Group has partnered with Achievable Dream since its inception. I can truly say that of the things we have done so far, having the graduates of Achievable Dream  intern for us this summer has been one of my favorites,” Art Casey said. “The graduates are customer-facing in our dealerships and they are doing a wonderful job. We are giving them a glimpse into the business side of operations while they are helping us maintain relationships. It’s a win-win.”

3 ways you can help AAD students during the COVID-19 crisis

Do you or your family need help or support as a result of COVID-19 closures and quarantines? Email us at information@achievabledream.org and someone from our team will contact you!

As we navigate this season of uncertainty, we know we will need each other more than ever. Our students and their families are strongly affected by the COVID-19 epidemic and accompanying precautions, and the needs vary widely from food, supplies, and academic support. An Achievable Dream will need the support of our friends and partners during this time as we work hard to ensure that our students are still equipped to succeed, no matter what happens. 

Here are 3 ways you can help AAD students and their families during this time:

1. Support our Annual Fund!
Help keep AAD operating by supporting our annual fund. This will be a difficult season as many regular fundraising activities have been interrupted or halted altogether. We don’t know what recovery will look like yet, but we do know that nothing can stand in the way of providing our students with the education, resources and opportunities they deserve!

2. Support our Food for Families fund!
We are providing – and will continue to provide as long as necessary – food, school supplies and hygiene items to our families. The cost of a two-week supply bag is $100. Please consider giving to support this effort! Just $100 can supply food and supplies for a family for two weeks.

3. Support our college students!
Help us support our college students as they navigate this stressful and unexpected change! We are providing food for our college students who are now at home after campus closures, as well as technology support and other supplies needed to complete their coursework.

Dreamers Keep the Music Going!

As a result of all Virginia schools closing due to the COVID-19 crisis, teachers and students are having to think of new, innovative ways to stay connected with lesson plans during this time. This includes all of our Dreamers and staff at our five An Achievable Dream campuses. Although this time is challenging for all, the stories of perseverance by our students and how our teachers and staff go above and beyond to stay connected with them is truly inspiring.

One of the amazing ways that we’ve seen our Dreamers continue their learning during this time is at An Achievable Dream Middle & High School where band director, Mr. Davis, continues to have virtual lessons with band students so that they can continue sharpening their skills while at home.

Upon initially hearing about the school closure, Mr. Davis and students in the band were disappointed and upset to know that all of their performances for the remainder of the year had been canceled, including the Concert State Assessment which was canceled the day before it was to take place. 

“The kids were heartbroken because we had all worked so hard to prepare for the State Assessment. It was my responsibility to continue to encourage them and let them know that this was not the end, and that we would work even harder to prepare for next years’ State Assessment,” Mr. Davis said. 

The next reaction is one that we all can relate to during this time, what would happen next? What could the band students do while not being in school to continue to learn and practice their instruments with the guidance of their teacher? That’s when Mr. Davis implemented the idea of having a virtual band class with his students and their instruments.

“I had a talk with my students and we all decided to keep the class as normal as possible during this time. I did not want the kids to lose any musical techniques that they had learned so far. I really wanted them to keep playing during this time so that when school is re-opened the band program will not be behind.”

In the virtual band lessons, the students are tasked with learning a brand new scale or reviewing older scales on a weekly basis. Students also have to complete music exercises in their method books. Mr. Davis then provides a video lesson for the students in conjunction with the method book so that they can better understand the musical techniques that are being taught.

“I try to motivate my students by implementing fun ways for them to learn their scales and musical techniques. In the future I will task the kids to have Zoom sectional practices to make sure they are still playing as a section together so that we can continue to grow as a band,” Davis said.

Although this is a difficult time for so many, including our Dreamers and their families, seeing our teachers continuing to interact with their students even while being at home and seeing our students continuing to push themselves to learn is truly inspiring. We can all take this lesson and use it as motivation to continue accomplishing our own personal goals during this time!

“This time has shown me how resilient my band students are and how they continue to become better musicians on their own,” Davis shared. “I am truly thankful for my students and if this experience has shown me anything, it’s to not take what we do in the classroom for granted once we do return.”


Donate School Supplies and Hygiene Items for AAD Families!

You can help support our students and families by donating school supplies and hygiene items to An Achievable Dream! These items are distributed in food and supply bags to our families who need them. Below are the items we most need. These can be purchased and delivered directly to our office via our Amazon wish list.

  • Pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Pens
  • Crayons
  • Notebook paper
  • Notebooks or composition books
  • Glue sticks
  • Keyboard wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Cleaning wipes

To maintain safety and cleanliness, we request that you only purchase and donate items via Amazon. Please email us at information@achievabledream.org if you have any questions!

Wellness Wednesdays: How to Remain Social During the COVID-19 Quarantine

As humans, we crave social interaction, but the COVID-19 quarantine doesn’t exactly make it the easiest thing to do. It is important that we adhere to the guidelines set for us by the CDC and federal and state governments by practicing social distancing and other safety measures however, during this time of staying in, you don’t have to let your relationships fizzle. There are many ways in which you can keep up connections with your friends and family. It just might require a little bit of creativity. Here are some ways you can remain social during the quarantine:

1. Get Outdoors – Whether it’s taking a walk or hike, walking your dog, or taking the time to do that yard project you’ve been waiting to do, going out to get some exercise and fresh air is not only good for you physically but it provides opportunities to interact with others (from a safe distance).

2. Join a Book Club – Reading a new book with a group can be a fun and interactive way to discuss something other than the Coronavirus. Using a virtual meeting platform like Zoom will allow your group to discuss your book together while safely practicing social distancing.

3. Learn Something New – This is the perfect time to learn a new skill or hobby, or to do something that you wouldn’t have the time for normally. Use this time to get creative! Crafts and hands-on projects are a great example, and you can find a small group to virtually share your ideas with!

4. Find a Workout Partner – Although gyms have closed, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good in-home workout plan to use during the quarantine. Find a plan that works for you and use FaceTime or Zoom to take on these workouts with a friend or a small group!

5. Stay in Contact – Social distancing doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from your friends, family, and colleagues. Stay connected during this time with phone calls, text messages, and video calls. You can even take it an extra step and use a virtual meeting platform to practice social distancing while still doing things you normally would like a virtual happy hour, virtual lunch date, or a virtual game night on apps like Marco Polo or House Party!

It is important during these times that we don’t confuse the necessary physical distancing with isolating ourselves socially. Continuing to maintain social connection and healthy relationships, while still remaining safe, is a way to reduce anxiety and stress levels and also do our part to help contain COVID-19. These are difficult times, but we will get through them together! 

Wellness Wednesdays: 10 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Crisis

We are all experiencing stress in different ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear and anxiety during times of uncertainty, upheaval, and changed daily routines can be overwhelming for adults and children. Social distancing makes it even more challenging. Learning to cope with stress in healthy ways will make you, the people you care about, and our community stronger! Here are 10 tips particularly for those quarantined at home to help prioritize your mental health during this time:

1. Create a routine — Change out of your pajamas, shower and make a to-do of all the things you want to achieve each day to create a sense of normality and productivity.

2. Break up your day — Find tasks to break up your day and, where possible, change your environment for different activities.

3. Take care of your body — Eat healthily, get plenty of sleep and exercise daily. That could include conducting indoor workout classes, stretching and practicing meditation. 

4. Help others — If you’re not under strict isolation rules yourself, and you’re in a position to do so, find ways to support those in need by offering to run errands and collect supplies for them.

5. Stay connected — Make the most of technology and stay in touch with colleagues, friends and family via phone calls, texts, social media and video conferencing.

6. Limit media intake — Stay informed about the situation via reliable sources, but limit your news and social media intake to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

7. Fight boredom — Make the most of catching up TV series, reading and exploring projects you have been putting off to beat boredom and stay mentally active.

8. Avoid burnout — Set strict limits to your work to avoid becoming overwhelmed and make time to unwind.

9. Focus on the positives — Amplify good news stories and honor caregivers working tirelessly to resolve the situation.

10. Take one day at a time — Try not to project too far into the future. Remember that these are temporary measures and you are not alone.

We know we won’t be in crisis mode forever, but stress won’t disappear from our lives when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends. Make it a commitment to continue self-care practices to prioritize your mental health and increase your ability to cope with life’s ongoing challenges! Together, we can learn to be resilient people in the midst of challenging times.

Resources for Families: Federal Relief Program

As you may know, congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to help Americans struggling amid the Coronavirus pandemic. As part of this bill single Americans would receive a one-time payment of $1,200, married couples would get $2,400, and parents an additional $500 for each child under age 17. Payments start to decrease for individuals who made more than $75,000 as a single adult and $150,000 as a married couple.

Eligibility is based on your 2018 or 2019 taxes and will be deposited to the bank account on file. If you did not have direct deposit for these, the IRS will mail you a check to your last known address on file. Those who have not filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 but are obligated to will need to complete their 2018/2019 taxes to receive the payment. If you did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes because you are not required to, you will need to complete a simple 2019 tax return that provides basic information to determine eligibility and informs where the funds should be deposited. The simple 2019 return has not been shared by the IRS at this time. If you do not file taxes but do receive Social Security benefits (and receive a SSA-1099 form every year), you will automatically be sent the payment without action necessary.


Children over 18 that have been claimed as a dependent by someone else are not eligible.

This bill also includes student loan relief. Federally held student loan payments (does not apply to Perkins and Federal Family Education Loans) will be suspended for 6 months interest-free. This change will be automatic, if you would like to continue making payments contact your loan servicer.

If you have lost your job during this time, there is no longer a one week waiting period to apply for unemployment. Unemployment has also been expanded to cover independent contractors and gig workers. The maximum payment amount has been increased by up to $600 and can be received for up to 4 months.

Update: The IRS has put up the form to fill out to receive your stimulus check if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You did not file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return because your gross income was under $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples). This includes people who had no income.
  • You weren’t required to file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return for other reasons

To fill out the form, click here.

We will continue to update this post as additional information becomes available. 

7 Online Learning Tips for College Students

Navigating a “new normal” together during the COVID-19 pandemic includes taking college courses completely online for AAD graduates. If you are adjusting to studying online, put these tips into place as you get into a new routine! If you have questions or need advice for setting up an online schoolwork routine, reach out to Elizabeth Aultice, eaultice@achievabledream.org.

1. Create a work space!
Pick a space for “school” at your home. Do not lay down in bed or on the sofa, you might fall asleep!

2. Eliminate distractions
Turn off TV & games. Remove yourself from busy places in the home. Select a time of day to work that is most quiet & calm.

3. Limit social media
Logout of social media on your laptop and devices you are using for school. Turn off your notifications on your cell phone while working.

4. Log on early and often
Discussion boards are always open and changing! Make sure to log in at least twice a day to check on assignments and notes.

5. Plan it out!
Get a planner and write down all your assignment due dates and deadlines. Break it down step by step so you don’t forget or procrastinate. Set multiple reminders in your phone starting days before an assignment is due up to the deadline!

6. Take breaks!
Sitting at a desk for hours is tedious! Schedule breaks throughout your day/assignments and stick to them!

7. Join a virtual study group
Start a group with some classmates to review assignments & get ready for test/quizzes!

You can find more tips for learning online here: https://goodcolleges.online/study-tips-for-success/