I am so tired of reading all of the negative articles about teens in our communities! How about this example of a young woman that cares enough to make a difference!
by Emma Fierro
When Sunnyside High School senior Jessica Mendez discovered that this year’s senior projects did not have to focus on a specific career goal, the 18-year-old knew she wanted to take on a project that would help her community.
Personal family tragedy inspired Mendez. After watching her grandmother, who suffered from heart problems, pass away, Mendez noted the way hospice care helped her grandmother and her family through the hard times.
Knowing how hard the experience had been on her family, Mendez could only imagine what it would be like for families watching young children suffering from life-threatening diseases and she wanted to help.
“It was hard for my family,” she said, “I couldn’t imagine it with little kids.”
With the guidance of her mentor, Jose Manual Vicente, Mendez organized a charity dance last February at Navarro’s Family Community Center on South Sixth Street.
The money collected, she decided, would be donated to Children’s Village in Yakima.
The dance included raffles, a D.J. and four live bands, including Vicente’s band, Mestizo Musical.
Tickets sold for $15 if purchased early, $20 if purchased at the door. Mendez and Vicente put up posters advertising the dance in Sunnyside, Grandview, around the Lower Yakima Valley and even Mattawa.
Mendez did not count how many people showed up for the dance, but she says it got pretty packed.
As bands changed, Mendez raffled off Valentine’s goodies and a basket of gifts from Ana’s Beauty Salon.
Mendez sought out sponsors from the Lower Yakima Valley. Her goal was to keep costs low so that more money raised by the event would go to Children’s Village.
Mendez was able to rely on her family for help with the event. She said that her parents, Daniel Mendez and Martha Munguia, helped her bear the cost of whatever she could not find sponsors for and her sister, Alexis, helped her decorate before the dance.
Although the project required a minimum of 15 hours, Mendez estimates she clocked in over 40 hours.
It was all worth it in the end as Mendez raised $1,100 for Children’s Village.
If you are a student with a special project or cause you want to share with others, please tell us – we really do want to know about it and maybe someone out here can be of help to you!
To my readers: please share your stories of the gifted, talented and caring young people and let’s applaud them for what they are doing in the world to make a difference. You can email your stories and I’ll post them here, or tell us their stories as a comment to this post.