What strikes me most about today is Juan Carlos. He was never a standout promoter, never a leader, never “one of the guys.” He kept his head down, did his work to the best of his abilities, and he did what he had to do in order to stay in the program. I know, at times, Daniel (our Program Coordinator) was concerned that Juan Carlos was not a high performer. But, today, I feel so very proud of this young man. He is one who surely would not be in high school if it weren’t for our scholarship. He would be growing, harvesting and toting 50kg bags of vegetables on his back to sell to middle men.
After all the speeches had been given and before the food came out, the music was melancholic and Juan Carlos was alone. I could see him across the room. He had his head down, eyes glistening. I’m sure he never imagined this day. And he was having his moment.
His sister, Gloria, was one of the original 6 promoters in the program. And she was there helping cook and serve and organize the speeches and shared some words of her own, thanking her parents for all they had sacrificed for them. She acknowledged her parents spent sleepless nights wondering where the money would come from to survive another day. This was a momentous day for them all.
The staff and I had to leave before dessert so we could get to our own year-end celebration. So we promised we’d stop by at the end of the day. Gloria told us she’d save us cake even if it were 6:00 when we arrived. So, as tired as we were, we stopped by for cake at around 5:00 — and a dozen promoters, past, present and new came with us! We all sat around the table with Juan Carlos eating cake, laughing and poking fun at one another. I was so pleased for him, and it was the perfect ending to a day of celebration.
– Linda Smith, Executive Director of Reading Village