On Friday, October 25, Sacred Heart Center held its annual fundraising breakfast, ‘Buenos Días from the Heart.’
Over 200 people came to share a meal, celebrate culture, and build community. While sweet breads, tamales, and empanadas from several local Latinx vendors were joyfully consumed by our guests, Oscar Contreras, our MC from Radio Poder 1380, shared an overview of our programs and what motivates our community to participate and seek personal growth through our programs. Tanya Gonzalez, Executive Director, gave a moving account about our mission and identity, and how we have grown in scale and impact over the last few years. While guests finished their food and coffee, several members of our community shared inspiring stories about how each has benefited from the educational and social support offered by Sacred Heart Center.
The first story came from a local electrician, Jose Gutierrez, who came to the U.S. two years ago and moved quickly from ESL Level 2 to ESL Level 4, thanks to the work of our ESL volunteer instructors. He credits the Kids of the Corazon program for making it possible for him to study, while giving his daughters a place to play and learn that is both safe and welcoming.
Brenda Aroche, who has been a participant in our ESL and Leadership programs, also became a U.S. Citizen with the help of our Citizenship class. She shared how she started student, then became a volunteer at Sacred Heart Center, and is now working full-time with the Center as our Administrative Program Assistant. She spoke about how grateful she is that Sacred Heart Center was able to provide her and her family with the support she needed to rebuild her life and start a rewarding career.
Claudia Arevalo described working as an investigative journalist in her native country of Honduras. While covering a story about a mining company’s malpractice, which left a small rural town without a clean water supply, she and her family were threatened and she “made the difficult decision to come to the United States” because, as she put it, she felt she “had no other choice.” Thanks to Sacred Heart Center she was able to find a trustworthy lawyer who could work with her to seek asylum. She shared, “Through this program, I had a beacon of hope when I least expected it. I had help when I thought I had no strength left in me.”
Last but not least, middle schooler Jhonni Romero Flores took the microphone and left the entire gymnasium in tears as he explained how Alfonso Perez Acosta, the director of Sacred Heart Center’s Casa Lapiz Art Program, had encouraged him to shift his thinking and to see his talents as “superpowers.” His superpower is ‘lava’ which allows him to control his emotional fire. Although Jhonni has only been in the U.S. for two years, he explained in perfect English that Alfonso is “the best teacher he has in this world.”
At the end of the meal Board Members Patty Gavilan and Brooke Purcell spoke about why they serve on the Sacred Heart Center Board. Patty shared her own experiences as a young immigrant and wished that, “her family had been able to have a Sacred Heart Center that could have made our growth a lot less painful and our transition into community a lot more compassionate.” She shared that, “it would have been such a tremendous benefit to me as a child and to my parents to have had access to programs and services like the ones offered here at the SHC.”
Read the full community member testimonials here.
A deeply caring supporter offered to match any donation given in honor of our community members breakfast stories, up to a total $75,000. As of 11/12/19, we are within $6000 of meeting that generous match! Donating today will help us reach our goal of $150,000.
We invite you to walk in solidarity with us as our community thrives and flourishes!