By Christina Calloway
Gabriel Rivera feels the contributions he can make to the community’s children, no matter the size, will have an effect on their future.
“Our youth are so important to us,” said the Comcast technician and father of two. “They’re going to be the next presidents, senators, doctors, journalists.”
Rivera and other Comcast employees have donated their time and resources this week to build the Portales Recreation Center a new set of cubbies for the 90-plus children who attend the center’s after school program.
He hopes the community will join him and other volunteers Saturday at the Recreation Center in a day of community service for Comcast Cares Day, an initiative by the company to connect its employees to the community through giving back.
This is the third year the service day will be held at the Recreation Center. In years past, volunteers re-painted the center’s walls, repaired the floors and made small additions to the building.
Comcast Field Supervisor Spencer DeBord estimates the work and time donated by Comcast and community residents is valued anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000.
DeBord said more participants will mean more work can get done.
“Our goal is to get as many partners as we can,” DeBord said.
Other community groups and businesses donate supplies, breakfast and lunch to volunteers, according to DeBord.
Though not a native of this area, DeBord spends a lot of time here because of his job and he feels the investment in the community’s youth is important.
“I know that (the Recreation Center) is limited on funds,” DeBord said. “When we can do this for a day, it’s going to benefit those kids. It’s going to keep giving back.”
DeBord thinks it’s also important for the center’s youth to get involved so the cycle of service continues.
“When they start young, they’re creating that sense of volunteerism over a period of time,” DeBord said. “They’ll keep coming back.”
Eleven-year-old Jamae Sharpe is one of the center’s members who helped with Comcast Cares Day last year. She’s thankful for the work that community members do for the place she hangs with her friends daily after school.
“I feel good because we really need new stuff,” said Sharpe who loves to use the center’s dance studio to practice routines. “I want to help so I can make a difference in my community.”
Baylor Diaz, 10, is another participant who helped paint and create bleachers for the center.
“I want to help to make it look better for the other kids so that it interests them to come,” Diaz said.
The center’s Director Jodi Kibbe said she’s grateful for the work the volunteers do.
“I’ll usually get to do one big project a year, such as the floor mats, but with (Comcast Cares Day), volunteers can get up to five projects done in one day. It definitely means more to our staff and other city employees.”