January 04, 2023

Ashly's Story

“I want Ashly to be able to look back and see the growth she’s done for herself–the work she’s put in to get to where she is today.” --Silvana, Friend.

An act of genuine friendship can be as simple as quietly sitting beside someone. Trust takes time and patience to build. Silvana’s relationship with Ashly began four years ago with few spoken words. Outside school visits, they’d meet at the library to join one of the afternoon activities or work on homework. Ashly, who was seven when they met, didn’t know much English. She was having trouble relating to adults, was quiet in class, and struggled with expressing her emotions. If anything became overwhelming, she’d shut down. So, Silvana began with small connections. She’d ask permission to sit next to Ashly and gently remind her that she was there if she needed anything. Slowly, seven months later, Silvana suggested they go to the park together, and the answer was yes.

“It was like a switch went off,” says Silvana, Friend. Park outings grew into eating together at restaurants, and with that, new opportunities for Silvana to support Ashly in how to advocate for herself and articulate her interests. At nearly 11 years old, Silvana says that Ashly is a very spirited girl who is tall and can command a room with her height and confidence to engage enthusiastically with adults in both English and Spanish. She likes to cook and enrolled in a weeklong dessert making class this past summer. “With all my girls, especially this year, I’ve been trying to find what they like–their spark,” says Silvana. They’re having conversations about patience, accepting affirmations from people and articulating affirmation about themselves, and building the confidence that comes from knowing someone is there for you week after week and year after year. “I want Ashly to be able to look back and see the growth she’s done for herself–the work she’s put in to get to where she is today,” says Silvana.

5 Years of Commitment with Silvana & Ashly:

  • 2018: Silvana and Ashly start their friendship. Ashly took the longest time to open up out of Silvana’s group of eight girls.
  • 2019: A breakthrough in their friendship turns quiet meetings into outings and silent car rides into times to talk.
  • 2020: The challenges of COVID begin. Friends give each child a laptop, and Ashly and Silvana communicate virtually. “Thankfully, with COVID, our relationship didn’t regress,” says Silvana.
  • 2021: Silvana introduces Ashly to a variety of activities to help her find her spark and hone in on her interests. Ashly begins to enjoy cooking.
  • 2022 Their relationship is four years strong. Silvana is a constant in Ashly’s life.