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ILYA Graduation Party Celebrates Classes of 2020 and 2021

A festive evening on the Wilmington Riverfront on July 22nd was a long-awaited, in-person celebration to honor ILYA (Independent Living for Young Adults) graduates from 2020 and 2021. The Docklands Restaurant on the Riverfront provided a beautiful outdoor setting for the over 30 attendees who came together to celebrate and acknowledge the accomplishments of several ILYA graduates. Volunteers, students, alumni, Independent Living Coordinators with the State’s Division of Family Services and other guests enjoyed a casual environment along the Christina River complete with great food, a welcoming atmosphere, remarks and a shared celebration of the educational achievements of ILYA graduates. It was particularly special after such a challenging year with the pandemic.

Four ILYA former graduates offered personal words of wisdom and inspiration to current students, also recognizing how ILYA had helped to fill the gap in resources when they were pursuing their education. Backpacks, stuffed full of supplies by ILYA volunteers, were given to each graduate at the conclusion of the evening.

Feedback from youth and social workers was positive and we continue to hear how much everyone enjoyed the party. It was a wonderful way to let our youth know their hard work and determination is recognized and valued. It also provided an opportunity to show our appreciation of the dedicated independent living social workers who work with these youth all year long during the difficult and sometimes lonely transition to adulthood.

A huge THANK YOU and kudos to the many First U volunteers and friends who planned and organized the logistics to make the graduation possible! Special thanks to Sue Oldenburg for videotaping the event and photographer Roy Draper for capturing images from the evening.

And don’t forget! A reminder to those interested in learning more about ILYA’s Student Care Packages Project – Two info sessions, Intro to Student Care Packages 101, are scheduled for these dates:
Sunday, August 29 at 12:00 noon, following the online church service AND Tuesday, August 31 at 7:00 p.m.

Please email Barbara Crowell ( if you are interested in joining one of the sessions and she will send you the zoom information.