As our Atlanta chapter nears its 30th anniversary, we want to shine a spotlight on a very special story. We reached out to Atlanta’s Program Manager, Cindy McNeil, and asked her about her experience at ASAS. This is Cindy’s story.
I was first introduced to All-Stars by my sons, Uwezo and Askari, when they were in seventh and eighth grade. It still makes me laugh, recalling how it seemed too good to be true. I told them “No, you can’t walk home that late.” They said, “There’s a bus!” I said “Well, it’s too long at school—you need to eat something.” They said, “They provide meals!” Finally, I said “OK, but what about the summer?” Yep, you guessed it. “They do summers, too!”
At the time, I worked for a nonprofit whose goals aligned with ASAS, and I began building a partnership between the two and strengthening bonds between families, schools, and the community. My children stayed with All-Stars through graduation and periodically returned to volunteer or mentor younger students. Askari, my younger son, graduated from Georgia State and currently works for ASAS Atlanta as our Media Specialist.
Uwezo—my oldest son—found his passion for STEM that first summer at All-Stars, telling me matter-of-factly, “I want to be a mechanical engineer and go to Georgia Tech” (spoiler alert: he achieves his goal). In ninth grade, Uwezo created a program called Simple Math Today and mentored students at the same middle school he had attended. He raised the money for supplies, recruited fellow high school students, and partnered with ASAS to run the program three days a week.
The largest scholarship Uwezo received came in recognition of Simple Math Today. He graduated from Georgia Tech and currently works for Mitsubishi as a continuous improvement specialist. This year, he’s volunteering his skills to ASAS Atlanta, helping us find ways to improve our internal processes and reach more students.
I’ve worked for All-Stars since 2015, and—almost 10 years on—I can’t help but reflect on my first impressions of the organization. As a program manager, I see student experiences through the eyes of my own children. It’s never been a “No” from All-Stars. It’s “How can we make that happen? How can we better support our students’ passions?” And that’s huge for me as a parent. It’s important that we give young people a place and an opportunity.
Cindy’s story gives us a glimpse of how After-School All-Stars can impact students, families, and communities. We hope you’ll make a gift today to help us reach more young people like Uwezo and Askari.