Why I do what I do!
I am frequently asked why I continue to invest so much of my time, energy, and resources in helping kids in Mexico go to school. My answer is always: “I keep going because these kids matter. I believe every one of them is full of greatness and they deserve the opportunity to realize their potential.”
When I started this program in 2016, we supported 72 students from kindergarten through college. We are now supporting more than 600 students and our waiting list continues to grow. Quite honestly, leading non-profit organizations on both sides of the border and having so many young people depend on our support has been the most challenging, exhausting and sometimes overwhelming work of my life. It is also the most rewarding work I have ever done.
“Is it worth it?” is another question I get asked a lot. Every time I hear that question, I find myself wishing that more people had the chance to get to know and hear the stories of even a few of our students. So, this month and next I am going to devote my column to sharing some of the stories of the amazing, resilient young people we have the privilege of supporting.
Meet Jose: Jose was the first student accepted into our program in 2006. When we first met him, he was 4½ years old and spent his days with his grandmother and mother washing windshields on a street corner. Jose’s family thought that he would never have the opportunity for a better life because they did not have the resources to obtain a birth certificate that would enable him to attend school. We helped get his birth certificate, enrolled him in kindergarten and have continued to support his education. This photo is Jose at his kindergarten graduation and today he is a happy 4th grader with a bright future.
Meet Jesus Daniel: When our program started in 2016, Jesus was one of 19 middle school students we accepted whose parents did not have the funds to send them to high school. With our support, not only did all 19 of these students graduate from high school but they are all now in college! When we met Jesus, he was living with his single mother and helping to care for his grandfather who is disabled. His mother was working full-time and earned just enough to provide for her family’s basic needs. Although Jesus was an exceptional student who had earned straight A’s from kindergarten through middle school, his mother could not afford to send him to high school. Thanks to our support he is now a sophomore in college studying computer systems and is well on his way to a bright future.
Meet Fernanda: When we met Fernanda four years ago, she was a 17-year-old, dedicated student determined to graduate from high school. Unfortunately, a lack of resources left her faced with dropping out after her junior year. We were able to accept her into our program and, not only did she graduate from high school but, thanks to our consistent support, three months ago she graduated from college. She is now pursuing her master’s degree in Psychology and serving as an intern in our program working with children with special needs.
Helping these young people, and many more in our program, have the chance to change their outcome in life through education makes every dollar, minute. and ounce of energy I invest in this program more than worth it! You can make a gift to support students like these at www.stepsoflove.org.