In this season of thankfulness, Ciudad Nueva is thankful for our amazing volunteers!
Each of our programs at Ciudad Nueva has its own unique personality and focus. They each have different aims and require different resources. But there is one thing that all our programs depend on: people.
There are so many people that make Ciudad Nueva programs successful—the staff, the volunteers, and the participants all bring their unique gifts and desires. I sometimes picture it as a huge, beautiful, complicated jigsaw puzzle that is constantly being re-painted by new experiences as we all grow into the places God has created for us.
During this Thanksgiving season, we would like to highlight a few of the volunteers we are thankful for. There are too many to name them all (over 200 people volunteered last year!), but I hope you will be blessed by these few stories.
Helen Schmid is retired from the insurance industry. She enjoys watching and playing sports but also loves to cook, bake, and decorate…and maybe shop a little here and there.
Helen is a member at St. Clement’s Anglican Church. When Sami spoke to her about volunteering at Launch Pad as a mentor, she knew it was something she wanted to try.
Nine years later Helen is still volunteering as a mentor, and interacting with all the kids in the program is her favorite part of the job.
“I desire to be an encouraging, supportive, loving, and fair mentor,” says Helen. “Also, my desire is to introduce Jesus to the kids and pray that they come to the Lord.”
Helen says the most interesting thing about being a volunteer is seeing how the kids grow from one year to next.
Helen’s advice to others who might be considering volunteering at Launch Pad: “Pray about it. If it is a go, then jump in with patience and love! Those are a big part of enjoying your time at Launch Pad.”
Jorge Alvarez is a realtor for Camacho Realty. He was born in El Paso, right down the street from El Paso High.
Jorge heard about Ciudad Nueva from a friend and decided to get involved after he was invited to go to camp with the high school kids. He has now been volunteering with the high school program for two years and joined the Ciudad Nueva board of directors earlier this year. Jorge is a member of Paseo Church.
“The thing that keeps me coming back is seeing how a little bit of attention goes so far with the kids,” says Jorge. “I once came to Ciudad Nueva to do Bible study and the kids had so many questions, I couldn’t keep up with them all. I am constantly amazed at how the kids want to learn about God. The students are open to growing spiritually as long as we keep things at a level where they feel comfortable.”
Volunteering has made Jorge more aware of God’s presence in relationships with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Jorge’s advice to anyone interested in volunteering in the high school group is to be ready to be vulnerable.
“Kids sometimes have tough questions,” says Jorge. “And answering them requires you be open and honest.”
Brian Mosher is the Launch Pad Banker and also a Board Member. He has been married to his wife Claudia for 11 years and they have three boys, ages 10, 8, and 5. Although he has lived in El Paso for 16 years now, he was born and raised in Denver, CO. As a huge Denver Broncos fan, that Super Bowl win back in February was pretty exciting for him!
Brian has been involved in Launch Pad for about 9 years now. He was first introduced to the program through church.
“I remember, one Sunday Sami asked the congregation for volunteers to help with this program called Launch Pad,” says Brian. “Specifically, he was asking for help running a banking program. Because I work in finance, I decided I wanted to check it out and see if I could fill a need.”
Brian helps out at Launch Pad about once a month on what we call bank days.
“I essentially help the kids manage their mock checkbooks,” says Brian. “They have to learn how to make deposits, make spending and savings decisions, and write checks.”
One of Brian’s favorite experiences while volunteering was when one student was able to help out her family with her newly learned banking skills.
Brian explains: “One day I heard that the mother of a Launch Pad kid was so impressed with her daughter’s skills that she asked her to help the mother manage her own real life checkbook. That was really rewarding to hear.”
Making a big difference in the community is what keeps Brian coming back to Launch Pad.
“I feel like I have been blessed in so many ways,” says Brian. “So it’s important for me to give back to the community. Ciudad Nueva makes a really big difference in the community it serves, and I’m happy that I can be a small part of it.”
Volunteering has also opened his eyes to the significant challenges many of the Ciudad Nueva kids and families face.
“It’s made me realize that I can take an active role in trying to help, even if it might seem small. I also see that these kids are amazingly resilient, and I can learn from them that obstacles can be overcome even if they may seem insurmountable.”
Brian’s experience has taught him that one simple thing a person can do to increase their personal happiness is to give—and what better way to give than by volunteering at an organization that is transforming a community?
“I have so much respect for Sami, all the staff members, volunteers, donors, and everyone else that makes this organization tick. When I pause to think about the impact this organization has had…it is truly something to marvel at.”