Year after year, we have the privilege of walking alongside young people who shape and light up our community. But what happens when they graduate from Ciudad Nueva’s programs? The kids in our programs inspire us and go on to become leaders in our community. Vero, one of our program graduates, shares how Ciudad Nueva impacted her during a crucial time in her life.
Vero joined Ciudad Nueva’s Kids Create program at age 11 and continued participating throughout her middle and high school years. After graduating, she joined our staff team, empowering neighborhood youth. She remains in contact with staff and volunteers who mentored her during her time in the program. Now at 25, married and with a child of her own, she looked back on her time with Ciudad Nueva with affection, laughing, “They still have a photo of me as an 11-year-old at the office!”
She emphasized the sense of community involvement and relationship building that took place during her time in the program. As soon as she began attending the Kids Create program, Vero felt welcomed and loved and wanted more members of her family and neighborhood to experience it too. “I’ve heard about organizations that talk about community, but they don’t live in the community like they do here,” Vero recalled.
At first, when Vero’s older sister also began attending the program, their aunt felt unsure about letting their cousin come, but Vero invited her to a community dinner hosted by Ciudad Nueva to put her mind at ease. There, she saw families from the neighborhood serving and receiving together. And after meeting Sami (our Executive Director at the time) and the rest of the staff, Vero’s aunt gave her daughter permission to attend.
Vero reflected about several Ciudad Nueva staff members who made a big impact on her during her teen years and continue to invest in her throughout her young adult life. Joe, our Family Outreach Director at the time, began involving her family in programming after connecting with Vero at summer camp. Sami became her godfather and presented her with a Bible at a very special time of her life — her quinceanera. Bethany, our current Executive Director, was a mentor to Vero and has remained a steadfast friend to her through her adult life. Lindsey, one of our Border Fellows, took Vero to numerous camps and activities as a mentor. Vero said, “She (Lindsey) was a full-time student but still found time to take me out to eat every week. She invested in me.” Through doubts, challenges, and periods of grief, the relationships Vero built over the years at Ciudad Nueva helped her feel secure, seen, and reassured and strengthened her relationship with God.
Our program’s students build life-long relationships that challenge and equip them to love and serve their neighbors. Our community is strengthened by Vero and other alumni like her. When we invest in each other, we invest in our leaders. Ciudad Nueva has been blessed to have Vero as a program member, and we are so thankful for her testimony.