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 Master of Public Health degree.

“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 support the Club just as it had supported her during her formative years. With rapidly evolving social distancing and testing recommendations during 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 weekly community COVID testing and vaccine clinic.

Walae has continued to share her talents with West End House, joining the Board of Advisors and most recently, serving as emcee at our Annual Celebration event 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, and founded a non-profit that builds creative community for social advocacy.

“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.”