Written by Karen Castañeda, Broetje Family Trust Intern
On Saturday, March 12th, the RISE scholars gathered to hear the needs of their community along with a few other members of Broetje Family Trust, including interns. I showed up not knowing what to expect, and what was meant to be weekend work turned into a day filled with love and joy. The goal was to door-knock at Tierra Vida homes and listen to the needs of families that live in the community. After everyone arrived, we waited at the Leo Center for Lupe Broetje to guide us and give directions. The atmosphere was friendly, but we could not anticipate the joy that was to come. To pass time, Jesenia Hernandez asked what our talents were. We discovered that Lissette Mendoza is an artist, Regina Mendoza is a fashionista, David Suarez is talented at playing the guitar, and I am a gamer. When Leann Griffin discovered that David plays the guitar, she grabbed one from the auditorium and asked him to play. He was very reluctant, as he had not played in 3 years, but Leann knew that if he had the guitar in his hands, he would not be able to resist playing. She was right. The moment that David started playing a song, the environment we were in shifted from professionalism and work to community.
“It felt good to pick up a guitar and play again,” David said.
We were able to let our spirits be free and love one another for who we truly are. The guitar strings blanketed us with comfort and allowed us to open ourselves to the adventure that we were going to embark on.
The sun was out, it was the warmest day of the year so far and our spirits grew as we wandered outside. We took a group photo and laughed when Leo Zamora Santa Cruz decided to strike a silly pose whilst the rest of us took on a more traditional stance. As we drew closer to the houses, we split up into groups of two. My group was fortunate. As we walked by one of the houses, a family came out to their driveway, and they were very open to talking to us. Hearing their concerns was heartwarming, and I find comfort in knowing that we can share their experiences to hopefully grow community relationships. Understanding that they truly do love their neighbors and want their safety is inspiring for our future reality.
As we reflected on the events of the day, Jose Duarte said, “I feel fulfilled,” later sharing, “It’s been a while since I’ve gone door-knocking”.
“It felt good to be able to know what I’m contributing to my community and helping where I can,” said Nallely Mendoza.
We had the opportunity to bond with one another through service. We walked back to the Leo Center and instead of going home, some of us stayed to see where the day would take us. None of us were disappointed. We shared a meal together and told stories that reminded us of how far we’ve come, both individually and together as a community.
Leaving the parking lot, my heart felt full of love and joy, not only for those that surrounded me but also for the community that is slowly starting to become my community. This day meant a lot to me because the community that I currently live in is not kind and welcoming. In this community, I can see myself.
The RISE scholars program focuses on youth embracing their God-given gifts and enhancing the skills and connections needed to achieve their dreams and put them into action for the common good. Community surveying will continue to take place in Tierra Vida with the leadership of community building staff in partnership with RISE scholars and volunteers.