“It was the best thing I ever did,” said Rosita Perez of her decision to enroll her three children in Providence Center’s After School Program (ASP) in Philadelphia, Pa. Her children had asked many times to go to the program because they saw friends and classmates at the Julio deBurgos Elementary School, where the program is held enjoying the attention and assistance provided by mentors and volunteers at ASP.
Rosita, who is a busy wife and mother works at the Marriot Hotel as a Breakfast Ambassador and she helps in caring for her mother who has had several serious surgeries recently. She visited ASP and talked with the Program Director, Gloria Rodriguez-Soto, and was impressed. Her three children, eleven-year-old Angel Mendez, nine-year-old Ashley Mendez, and 6-year-old Luis Bones were registered soon after that meeting. It was not long before this Philadelphia native and graduate of Lincoln High School became a volunteer in Providence Center’s After School Program.
Rosita’s daily schedule is overwhelming. She is up at 4 a.m. to travel to the Willow Grove Marriott, where she provides guest breakfast service. At 10 a.m., she leaves work and heads to her mother’s home to help her with errands and to take her to doctors’ appointments. Around 3 p.m., she is on her way to Providence Center’s After School Program to volunteer. The family arrives home about 6 p.m. when Rosita makes dinner followed by baths and preparation for the next school day. At 8 p.m., she takes her three children to her mother’s home where they spend the night so she can leave early the next morning for work. Home again, she washes dishes, cleans up, watches the 11 p.m. news and finally gets a few hours of sleep before her day starts again! Weekends are quiet, and include family game nights and Mass on Sunday.
What makes Rosita so remarkable is that when that her children are at ASP, she could be resting—after being up since 4:00 a.m.—but instead she chooses to take that time to volunteer. While Providence Center and the Sisters of the Holy Child have always made it a point to help the community, Rosita shows us that the true help is in giving those people in the community the opportunity to help themselves. Rosita was looking for a program that could assist her in cultivating her children’s education—not just a babysitter.