Firecracker. Whirling dervish. Spinning top. All these describe six-year-old Maria Jose of Hogar Uno. She came to Amigos from less than favorable circumstances, but in the year that she has been here, she has blossomed and progressed more than anyone could have imagined.

Maria is inventive and resourceful. She loves to explore her environment and seems to enjoy wandering near her home and finding things to observe and play with. Just the other day she and four-year-old Justinne found some old plastic ties and fashioned them into makeshift reins; they could be found happily galloping around the soccer field. A moth resting on the screen of the Hogar captivated her—she stretched as far as she could to touch its wings, but her little legs and arms just wouldn’t reach. Another time she was meticulously arranging piles of dirt with a plastic spoon. She fixed her attention on this task for quite a while, until one of her little friends engaged her in another activity.

Feisty and spritely also describe Maria Jose. She can sprint faster than some of the older boys playing soccer if she wants to hold on to the doll she is playing with. Maria Jose also has a competitive streak; she loves to play games and is terribly disappointed when she’s tagged out during a dodgeball game, hanging her head with her lip jutting out. She’s spunky and holds her own with the older girls, especially when they’ve been sent to fetch her to complete her chores or take her bath.

Maria Jose is affectionate and enthusiastic; she’s the first to greet a new visitor at Amigos, clinging to their legs until eventually they pick her up and are rewarded with a warm hug. At times her enthusiasm gets the better of her. While embracing a parked truck, in awe of its size and proximity, she managed to become covered in dirt. Maria then promptly embraced one of the volunteers, placing a kiss and brown handprints on her white blouse—right as she was leaving for Mass. The image of Maria Jose that truly encapsulates her spirit is that of her plowing through a group of people like a miniature bowling ball to answer a summons from Madrina Margarita.

Life with Maria Jose is an adventure.  She brings humor and laughter, exasperation and surprise, and infinite joy.  Her spark makes the light that is Amigos de Jesus shine that much brighter. 
- Genevieve Volpe, volunteer 2015-2016