Helping Their Children Flourish

Iris (right) is a graduate of George Mason University and teaches preschool in Alexandria.

Iris (right) is a graduate of George Mason University and teaches preschool in Alexandria.

Andres and Alma, originally from El Salvador, moved to Arlington in 1990. Since 1997, they have raised their family at Virginia Gardens; an affordable apartment community in South Arlington owned and managed by AHC Inc.

Today, there are four children in the family, ranging in age from 18 to 26. Iris, the oldest daughter, graduated from George Mason University in 2016 with a Psychology degree and minors in Childhood Studies and Public Health. She is currently a preschool teacher in Alexandria.

A participant in AHC Inc.’s education programs since kindergarten, Iris was the first in her family to go to college. An excellent student, Iris also participated in Michelle Obama’s leadership and mentoring program for high school students.

Both parents worked at Santa Fe Café on Wilson Boulevard for several years. Today, Andres is a custodian, a position he has held for several years. Alma works as a custodian on a part-time basis and babysits.

They have lived at Virginia Gardens for so many years because they enjoy the sense of community. “Arlington now feels like my original hometown,” says Alma. “All our children were born and raised here. Virginia Gardens is very kid-friendly, and we like the after-school programs, too.”

The family is glad to have a secure, affordable place to live. “It is important to us because Arlington is a very safe place,” explains Alma. “The schools in Arlington are great, and our children have graduated from Arlington public schools. And Iris has a college degree, which wouldn’t have been possible without all the support from the great teachers and programs that both Arlington and AHC have provided.”