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Meet Nafeesah

Nafeesah’s bright personality has blossomed over seven years in our Youth Services program.

Nafeesah beams as she wears a t-shirt with pastel colors and cheerful bubble letters. The message? “Today is not the day.” That mix of sweet and sassy is well known to her family, friends and staff at SOAR365.

But that wasn’t always the case. When Nafeesah started Youth Services seven years ago, she was shy and withdrawn. “She was just so timid and quiet, held her head down, wouldn’t look at you. Wouldn’t talk,” says her mother, Rose Anderson. “Other times she would just be distant. And I couldn’t figure that out.”

SOAR365 Supervisor Desiree Anderson (no relation) says Nafeesah seemed unsure of her peers and used to spend most of her time with staff.

“Now it’s nice to see her actually involved with her friends here,” says Desiree. “She’s very, very helpful. If we get on the van to go on a community outing, she’s going to put her friend’s seat belt on if they can’t do it.”

“When she comes into program, we do snack and social interactions, and I feel like that’s her favorite part of the day,” says Desiree. “She gets to talk about how her day went at school, and she gets to share things she may have in common with someone else in the program.”

Becoming more confident

Today, Nafeesah is opening up more and more to her family and friends. She’s become a confident self-advocate and is quick to let others know her thoughts and opinions.

“She has become outspoken. And she thinks she knows it all,” says Rose with a laugh. “She can pretty much fend for herself, and you know, that’s a good thing.”

Rose has learned that one of the things Nafeesah feels strongly about is coming to SOAR365. “It’s almost like SOAR365 and school is her safe haven,” she says.

“If she can’t go, she gets on the phone and she calls the director of transportation. And she says these words, ‘I don’t see no bus!’”

Looking forward to adulthood

It should be no surprise, then, that Nafeesah wants to learn to drive a car. She’d like to get better at reading and counting money; she wants to learn how to do hair and laundry. And ultimately, she wants to go to work.

“Nafeesah is excited about getting a job and learning new skills to help her navigate through the adult world,” explains Vandal Truong, Director of Adult Day Support and Youth Services. “She is eager to learn skills that will help her earn an income.”

The activities in Youth Services have her well on her way. “The staff has taught Nafeesah problem solving while developing social skills. She likes to stay busy, and she doesn’t mind asking questions,” says Vandal.

Next steps for Nafeesah

Everyone at SOAR365 is so proud of Nafeesah. The staff love seeing how she’s grown. And this summer, she’ll graduate and join the Adult Day Support program.

Desiree is sure she’ll continue to succeed. “She is very big on helping others. She’s very, very helpful with staff. She’s a great friend, and I think she’s a great leader to those around her as far as leading by example,” says Desiree.

Rose is happy that Nafeesah will continue coming to SOAR365. As her mother, Rose also shares a great deal of the credit for Nafeesah’s success. She keeps in close communication with SOAR365 staff, and she makes sure to support Nafeesah and work with her at home.

“We really appreciate the strong relationship we have with Nafeesah’s mom,” says Vandal. “She always thanks the staff for their patience with Nafeesah and says this program is a positive outlet for her.”

“I love everybody here because y’all do such a great job with her and the other kids and young adults that come here. And I see it every time I come,” says Rose. “It’s just wonderful to see the things that you all do for them. That’s awesome.”

Interested in learning more about our Youth Services program? Visit or contact Vandal Truong at (804) 665-1236 or [email protected].

You can make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities, like Nafeesah! To volunteer or donate, visit today.

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