On June 21, 2013, streamers and balloons festively decorated CERI in anticipation of a special evening. Outside the pillars of the building were adorned and inside the young women prepared festive tables and posters for their guests. Grandmas and moms joyously prepared a delicious Cambodian buffet. The rooms of CERI were bursting with family, friends, supporters, volunteers, and community partners.
CERI proudly honored three graduating members of ROYA (our youth program): Thavery Hov, Cynthia Mok and Moustra Johnny. Thavery, a working mother of two, received her GED and High School Diploma. She was awarded a small scholarship from her high school and has already enrolled at Chabot College. She will begin her studies this fall in the field of Child Development. Moustra graduated from Middle School and will attend High School. Cynthia graduated from Oakland Tech High School and aims to attend Merritt College in the fall to prepare for a career in nursing.
Parents, grandparents, friends and families were beaming with pride as they witnessed the success of the young women. Each graduate wore her cap and gown, had photos taken, and was honored with flowers, gifts and verbal acknowledgements of their accomplishments. Emotions were high for many of the attendees. There were tears of joy, dancing, laughter, smiles and tender moments.
To everyone’s surprise the young women of ROYA challenged the grandmothers and mothers to a competitive game of musical chairs. The elders proved their advanced skills in chair stealing with each round. After an initial round, different groups of participants (the young women, the grandmother’s, ROYA staff, and others) also jumped in the fun. The girls took turns playing DJ. This game was truly enjoyed by the community, and resulted in laughter, play, surprise and connection.
After the community acknowledgements, scrumptious cake and ice cream was served.
Next fall CERI anticipates the celebration of four additional graduates! We invite you to share in our hopes and dreams. CERI community member, Joe Pech eloquently summed up the sentiment of the evening when he stated,
“The success of one child brings hope to all of the community.”
CERI’s youth programs are made possible by: funding provided by Prop 63, the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63 MHSA) Alameda County, support from A More Balanced World, the John Andrew Lang Philanthropic Fund and a number of private donors.
Please consider a donation today by visiting our website:
Photos and text for this posting were contributed by CERI staff.