Community Connections: APAH’s resident services help a mother settle into life in Arlington

Since Hanane moved into Columbia Hills Apartments a year ago with her husband and two sons, she’s enjoyed more of what Arlington has to offer. “Before, when I was living in another [apartment] building, I didn’t know about a lot of programs in Arlington.”

Hanane’s family relocated from Morocco to Arlington two years ago. After her friend told her about APAH’s Columbia Hills, she applied and joined her friend in the building. Now that she’s gotten to know her neighbors, she’s made even more friends. “I have a lot of relationships,” Hanane says in a melodic tone that conveys her joy.

The connections that Hanane has made in her building have served her well.  Through participating in APAH’s classes to prepare residents for a job fair, she met a volunteer that helped her with her resume and cover letter. The revamped materials have significantly improved her job search.

With experience as a French Teacher in Morocco, she is focused on finding a position as a substitute teacher in the local public school system. But in the meantime, the teacher is an eager student. Over the summer, Hanane participated in two classes that APAH offered in her building. One of the classes was a 6-session financial education program; the other taught her how to navigate the school system. As a mother of a 5-year old kindergartner, she’s been able to apply this to her son’s school experience. “I didn’t know about the responsibilities and the rules. It told me how I can work with the teachers there to help my son.”

Hanane’s sons keep her busy while her husband works. Every Wednesday, she enjoys taking her boys to Story Hour, where volunteers play and read with children aged 0-7 to help them build literacy skills. She stays up-to-date on the variety of programs offered by APAH and its resident services program by reading notices that are posted in the building’s elevator, and she seems determined to participate in them all as she works to build a stable and successful life in America. Her family benefits from the onsite food distribution with AFAC, “every Tuesday, we get food. They provide [it] in the community room.”

Outside of her building, she appreciates The Clothesline for Arlington Kids, a nonprofit that distributes free clothes to low-income students from APAH’s former headquarters. “Last month I got clothes for my 5 year-old,” she says with excitement.

The location of Columbia Hills Apartments and the opportunities that APAH offers enable Hanane to fully integrate herself into the community. Everything she needs is within close distance, allowing her to move around without having to wait for or ask her husband to drive her places. “My son takes swimming class. I just go walking to take him to class.”