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Making someone's life a little better is all worth the effort.

Make a Meaningful Contribution

Written by Chela Marin
ARCHES Program Assistant, Family Support Program of BGCGG

A few months ago, I received a distressed call from Alberto, a concerned father, seeking services for his children and it became my focus.   Alberto was originally referred to the family support program of BGCGG by the concerned staff at Hazard Elementary. He came to us in a time of crisis and was really at the end of his rope.  I knew he was frustrated, but I was determined to help this family.  Upon this initial connection we realized that they were lacking their basic needs, such as food, clothing, and other simple supplies.  Even more than that, the family needed a ray of light to show that there is HOPE in the world.

Alberto and his two children, Jackie and Alberto Jr., have had a tumultuous last couple of years.  In the last four years, they have not been given a break from life.   The first major hit to this family was the loss of their mother.  She was diagnosed with skin cancer 3 years ago and died within the year.  As if this wasn’t enough, Alberto Sr. suffers from diabetes. Normally this is not a life threatening disease; however, during times of stress and sacrifice for his family, he let his own health take a backseat.  As a result, in April Alberto needed to have a toe amputated due to complications from diabetes.  The surgery has left him not only in pain, but also on a limited income since he lays floors for a living.   

Perhaps the most devastating news the family received was when Jackie, his 8-year-old daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer that resulted in chemotherapy and the amputation of one leg. Jackie finished her treatments and is receiving therapy to teach her how to walk again with a prosthesis leg.  Amazingly, through all this hardship Jackie is spunky and full of life. She has an amazing heart and maturity that was most eloquently expressed through her wish via the Make-A-Wish program to visit her mother’s gravesite in Mexico.

ARCHES was able to connect the father to valuable resources for his family and was able to relieve some of his burden and put things back in perspective for him and his family.  The crisis situation had been diverted and the network of care was established.

I was not able to shake this family from my mind. So, when the ARCHES Office received a call from our Club at Fitz Intermediate to do THE BIG GIVE, an opportunity for Club members to give back to their community, we thought this was the perfect connection. In the spirit of giving, we asked the father about what their family needed or desired.  We had grand ideas about a day off for dad—a spa, a retreat, time for himself, or an abundance of food and other commodities -- but dad just wanted to provide for his kids. They are first. Alberto is truly selfless in his giving of time and energy to his loved ones. 

Eleven kids from Fitz met the family and delivered a few hours of retreat for this family and a lifetime of memories.  The family was treated to housekeeping (performed by the members), a homemade lunch, games, food, and grocery gift certificates.  The Fitz kids treated the family to some good old-fashioned quality family time.  They sat around and played board games, cards, and made bracelets with the children.

Needless to say, it was a heartwarming experience for all of us involved!  The children were very appreciative, as was their father.  It was nice to know that for two hours we touched this family in a wonderful way.  It was also a good lesson for the Fitz students to learn that together we can make a positive difference in someone’s life.  A true expression of how great this world can be, we all just have to slow down and listen to one another.

To conclude, I would like to share with you my motto:

"Make a meaningful contribution to the world we live in. Be it a grand gesture or the smallest of gestures, if it makes someone’s life a little better, it is all worth the effort."

Update: Fitz Intermediate Club Members Reconnect with Jackie and Alberto Jr.

On February 26, 2010, Fitz Intermediate members reconnect with Jackie & Alberto Jr. at their home to provide another few hours of family retreat. They painted bird houses, played games, and ate lunch together. Jackie enjoyed a manicure given by one of the members. Alberto Jr. took pride in sketching an offense/defense plan for his favorite sport, soccer.

Both Alberto Jr. and Jackie were grateful for the Club members' visit. Their father, Alberto, thought the visit was wonderful and 
was happy to know that the Fitz children were still interested in visiting his own. "Jackie and Alberto are as resilient as one can be," says Chela Marin.

The most recent update is that Make a Wish granted Jackie's request: her family took a trip to Mexico to visit her mother’s final resting spot. 


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