The Ace Project, which was the brainchild of Seneca Valley High School’s assistant football and new girls’ head basketball coach, Ali Hashemzadeh, has grown and changed since its inception in 2016. Each year, the organization which strives to encourage student-athletes to give back to their community off-the-field, asks its members to create and produce a large project for the community.
This summer the group has taken on its biggest project, something which Germantown hasn’t had in quite some time, a community-wide event. Germantown’s own celebration of its residents, neighborhoods, schools, and businesses — The Germantown Community Day.
Later this month, Hashemzadeh and members of the Ace Project are producing the Germantown Community Day, which will be held on Saturday, August 25 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Gunners Lake Local Park at 12671 Grey Eagle Court in Germantown.
“Germantown needed an event it can claim as its own,” said Hashemzadah. “One that promotes all the positive work that surrounds us here. As there are tons of great people doing absolutely great things right here in our community.”
“Germantown Community Day is a day dedicated to showcasing the good works of those making a positive difference in our community,” he said. “We look to having fun activities for the kids as well as tons of information from local area resources that are readily available for those within our Germantown community.”
He said there is a good mix of organizations already committed to participate in the event. “We have everything from a few private vendors, government agencies, local school PTA groups, healthcare groups, after-school programs, as well as a few community outreach clubs that will be onsite.”
“We have also received some great assistance from sponsors which include the Healthcare Initiative, MD SoccerPlex, as well as Maryland's Physician Care. All of which stepped up to ensure the success of Germantown Community Day,” he said. Also committed to participate are; 480 Club, Parker Anderson Enrichment of Maryland, Kids Co, The Fatherhood Initiative, Montgomery College, Holy Cross Health Network, Backyard Inflatables, Germantown Pulse, and the Seneca Valley Girls Basketball team, among others.
“The goal here is to be able to provide an afternoon where folks can come out and enjoy walking and visiting the various informational booths, meeting new neighbors, having the kids enjoy themselves, eat some food and leave with tons of useful community resource information,” he said.
“I have always tinkered with the idea of some type of family-oriented festival dedicated to our Germantown community,” continued Hashemzadah. “One that could be sustainable and we can grow with. As I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed multiple other community events in and around our Germantown community — but not necessarily in our own community. And each year The ACE Project likes to focus on creating one ‘large’ project that the student-athletes can focus on and also learn from in the process. Last year was the Truth 2 Youth Forum and the year before that was a large community coat drive.”
He explained, The ACE Project started in 2016 as an attempt to chase volunteer opportunities and activities for student-athletes within the community. “An attempt to plant a seed of service, if you will. Everything from beautification projects to classroom reading visits. The Ace Project has a real just get out and do something approach. Big or small.”
He explained that as both a coach at Seneca Valley High School, his focus was on engaging student-athletes during those times when they were most vulnerable to outside negative influences. Times outside of the actual school day and practice itself. “Since its start in 2016, we have chased various community-based projects in and around our Germantown. My goal has never been to be the biggest program from a numbers standpoint. We routinely have 10-15 student-athletes actively engaged. But we would continue this work if even only one student was ready to go.”
“Obviously, we as a community have seen a shift, if you will, far from the days when Germantown was a small town outside of Gaithersburg or Rockville,” he said. “It seems it is busting at the seams with growth. Which is good, but with such growth, the opportunity is there for our youth to get involved in some serious negative situations. But at the same time, the same amount of opportunity is also there for them to get their hands dirty doing some great things for others. This is the focus of The ACE Project.”
Note: Germantown Pulse will also have a table at Germantown Community Day. Stop by and say hello.