Carmela can often be found in 826 Valencia’s kitchenette, cracking jokes and slicing apples for our After-School Tutoring students. Carmela is also the mother of Osvaldo and Sofia, a former and a current student of our After-School Tutoring program. Her kids have been enrolled in 826 Valencia’s programs for ten years—almost the entire time we’ve been open! During this time, Carmela has prepared snacks for our students, made frequent runs for food donations on 826’s behalf, and participated in our Parent Leadership and Advisory Board. She’s an invaluable volunteer and we appreciate her immensely.
Marko Gluhaich, an Educational Programming intern at 826 Valencia, recently sat down with Carmela to get her perspective on her involvement with the organization. Here is her story, as recounted by Marko:
Ten years ago, when faced with the prospect of being kicked out of middle school, Carmela’s son Osvaldo needed a place where he could receive guidance on his writing and gain confidence writing completely in English. 826 Valencia had just opened its doors, and Carmela decided that it was the organization to help her son. After just three months in After-School Tutoring, Osvaldo’s teacher called Carmela to congratulate her and her son on his success; he was writing confidently in English, without any problems. Before long, Osvaldo began to mentor and speak to other students about his own experiences and success, with the hope of inspiring other bilingual students who struggled as he did. This was the beginning of what is now a ten-year relationship between Carmela and 826 Valencia. She continued to send her son to 826, watching him grow, learn, and become increasingly confident in the classroom. Osvaldo is now finishing up at Pitzer College, where he is studying sociology.
When her daughter Sofia was old enough, Carmela immediately signed her up for 826 Valencia’s After-School Tutoring program. Even if she doesn’t have homework, Sofia will come in to our center to read a book from our shelves and visit the Writing Table—her favorite part of the program.
Carmela considers 826 Valencia to be her family’s second home. She credits the organization with changing the lives of her children, and she sees what 826 does for so many children like her own.
To read about all of our featured volunteers, visit the Volunteer of the Month gallery.