Eleven-year-old Valeria*, affectionately called “Negra” because of her beautiful, caramel-hued skin, is confident, independent, and self-aware. She is determined and purposeful in all of her activities, and yet she always maintains her sense of humor. As one of the older girls here at Amigos de Jesus, Valeria will undoubtedly be a source of inspiration and support for our younger girls as she continues to grow into a young woman.

     Valeria is extremely helpful in her hogar (home).  She can often be found running errands for Madrina Martha, including filling water jugs and carrying them across the soccer field from the comedor (dining hall) to her hogar.  When it is Hogar Three’s turn to clean the comedor, Valeria is diligent in mopping the entirety of the floor without complaining. In addition, Valeria is also an excellent assistant in the morning, whether it’s helping to bathe the younger girls or matter-of-factly describing the rules of the hogar and the daily routine to a new volunteer or madrina

     Valeria’s burgeoning maturity and self-awareness were apparent to me after speaking to her one day about friendship complications. She initiated a conversation with me about the difficulties of dealing with gossip and with the reality of a friend suddenly deciding to end the friendship. Valeria asked me about my experience with this sort of thing in my youth, and I told her that unfortunately I had been on the receiving end of this type of behavior as well. Valeria had already wisely decided on her own to ignore the behavior and focus on other friendships—she just needed a little bit of encouragement, which I was happy to give her. 

     Confidence and a sense of humor are also a part of Valeria’s personality, especially when it comes to her athleticism. Last Sunday before Mass, Valeria was playfully describing how she has an exercise to work and tone each part of the body. At first I thought she was joking because of her humorous manner; however, the next day when I was teasing her about her performance, she laughed at my imitation and then showed me the photocopied exercise descriptions posted on her bedroom wall, along with her daily schedule, which includes a detailed exercise regimen. Valeria may seem flippant about her interests and endeavors, but when it comes to follow through, she is quite disciplined. 

     Bright, assertive, and spirited, Valeria’s star has just begun to glow.  We love the light and laughter she brings to Amigos de Jesus, and we look forward to watching her shine.

~ Genevieve Volpe, 2015-16 volunteer

*name changed to protect privacy

Valeria (left) and friend having fun while watching a soccer game at Amigos.

Valeria (center) and friends