2023 Alumni Spotlight: Walae Hayek
In July, 2020 when West End House was exploring how to safely open their summer program for youth, they consulted with Boston public health officials and then turned to an alumna, Walae Hayek, to make it happen. Walae already had a history with West End House, arriving as a transfer student at Brighton High, looking to find friends and a feeling of belonging. She found both at the West End House, as well as support and coaching to advocate for herself at high school, apply to Tufts University and go on to receive a Masters in Public Health. “West End House celebrated with me when I earned my degree from Tufts, and continued to support me with networking opportunities with Board members.”
During the pandemic, Walae was able to give back to the Club that had given so much to her. With rapidly evolving social distancing and testing recommendations in the summer of 2020, Walae developed and implemented safety guidelines and testing protocols to enable staff and youth to return to the club safely. She was instrumental in expanding access by partnering with the Boston Public Health Commission and the Department of Public Health to make West End House a community Covid testing and vaccine clinic. After so many months of isolation, West House House was able to open and our young people were thrilled to have the opportunity to return to activities and their friends.
Walae has continued to share her talents with West End House, joining the Board of Directors and most recently, serving as MC at our Annual Celebration this past April. As Walae told the audience, “West End House has been my second home. I felt heard, seen, and cared for by every single staff member every single day.” Walae currently works in advocacy to advance behavioral health policy, founded a non-profit that builds creative community for social advocacy and is a member of the WEH Board of Advisors. “I’m grateful for the organization’s ongoing commitment to providing a supportive and inclusive environment that enables everyone to find their unique pathway to success.”