ALEXANDRIA, VA—Casa Chirilagua, a Christian, 501 © (3) nonprofit organization in Alexandria, Virginia, recently received a donation of desks from Building Momentum for its students. Casa Chirilagua was approached by John Porter, former Principal at T.C. Williams High School, who connected them to Building Momentum, the group responsible for designing the desks. “John is familiar with the work we do and the community we work with,” says Jen Huntley, Communications Director of Casa Chirilagua. She continues, “Because we know the students and families we work with, when this opportunity came up, we knew that it would greatly benefit the students.”
These are no ordinary school desks. They are custom designed by Building Momentum employee, Ben Hudson. Hope Wheeler, Managing Director at Collins + Co., a woman-owned public relations and marketing firm, informs, “Ben is an expert in user experience and fabrication and was able to come up with a design that is both easy to manufacture and assemble, but also meets and exceeds the needs of students that are virtually learning.”
The desks are made of plywood with specifically placed slots for easy assembly. They only take about 5 minutes to assemble, and they easily disassemble back into flat pieces of plywood for transportation.
The desks come with adjustable shelves for books and papers, and hooks on the side for backpacks and coats, to make learning simple and keep your student’s new learning space, wherever it may be—a living room, kitchen, bedroom, community space—tidy.
“Casa Chirilagua was brought to our attention as a worthwhile community group that has been helping local children and their families by hosting distance learning programs,” explains Hope. “They needed desks and we were thrilled to be able to help them.
Casa Chirilagua has student programs ranging from elementary to high school. Like all other schools, Casa Chirilagua’s student programs have been hit hard by Covid-19. Having these desks, however, has helped combat those effects. Jen says, “By students having their own desk to work on at home, they are able to focus better and are able to take more ownership for their learning.”
And take ownership they did. Upon the big reveal of the desks, the children were “all smiles, giddy and happy to have a workspace of their own.” Getting right to work on their virtual studies and utilizing the convenient cubbies and hooks, the students were excited not only about the desks, but also about learning .
These desks have indeed helped students learn in this new era; to add to that effect, Casa Chirilagua has transformed its community center into a learning hub, available to students on assigned days for the completion of their online learning. With a stable internet connection and a technical support staff, Casa Chirilagua is certainly setting its students up to achieve, and perhaps even exceed, their full potential.
Marissa Salgado, Casa Chirilagua Programs Director, adds, “Throughout all the changes this year has brought, our team at Casa has been reminded of how resilient our community is. Our students and their parents are doing all they can to pursue success against really tough odds, and our staff is thankful for the opportunity to come alongside them in this season.”