By: Lorena L. Gomez
Last week, I was fortune enough to join a group of volunteers from Western Refining to one of our funded agencies, the Paso Del Notre Children’s Development Center. While I am familiar with the organization, this was to be my first visit. Upon entering the facility, the first thing we noticed was the large black tarp covering much of the inside and the unmistakable sound of construction. We were happy to learn that the Center recently received one million dollars for renovation. Between the sounds of drilling, the Executive Director, Jaime Barceleau, gave us an overview of the services they offer and showed us around. He led us to “El Papalote Lending Library,” the facility’s own library and a resource for parents, to encourage reading at an early age. The volunteers were asked to team up and pick a book to read. I followed the first group into a classroom of children about age 3. To the children’s delight, the readers joined them on the carpet and with great enthusiasm, told a story. The second group of children was a little bit older and familiar with the stories the readers had selected. With each page of Curious George, they engaged their attentive audience and sent the children off to lunch with smiles on their faces. It’s incredible to see how much of an impact a few minutes of your time can make on kids at such an impressionable age.
Though the children are the intended beneficiaries of the time volunteered, and ultimately, of the donations from pledges and raffles, it was myself and the volunteers from Western Refining who walked away with something valuable. While it takes money to take on a large scale renovation, and to keep the day to day operations of a facility intact, it also takes an act of kindness, something that is within everyone’s reach, to really make a difference.