“And He said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of people.” (Matthew 4:19)
The ancient philosophers knew when we teach, we learn. Christ asked his apostles to spread the “Word,” and in doing so, their faith grew. Santa Gonzalez recently observed that transformation in herself when she volunteered to help teach a computer class at Centro San Juan Diego, one of the more than 40 Archdiocese of Denver ministries supported by the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal.
“Now that I’m a volunteer, I feel like I’m learning even more than I did as a student,” Gonzalez said. “You’re listening, watching the teacher, absorbing the material, and then sharing it with others.”
As an assistant in the classroom, Gonzalez felt like she had a chance to better understand the lessons and help other students apply them. The former student initially completed the computer class to help her husband grow his business, but Gonzalez soon discovered that learning should never be a self-serving pursuit.
“Whatever we learn, we have a responsibility to share with others who don’t know,” she said.
She added that the process of teaching should not be, “let me do it for you,” but rather, “let me show you how to do it so that you can do it yourself in the future.” This distinction guides Gonzalez’ efforts in the classroom and reflects Centro’s mission in general — to help the Spanish speaking immigrant community become more self-sufficient in everything they do.
Centro San Juan Diego promotes the common good of the Hispanic community through education, family support, and leadership formation to help immigrants more fully integrate into American society. This archdiocese ministry serves more than 5,000 immigrants each year by offering free legal clinics and tax preparation services and providing adult education courses on subjects such as: English as a Second Language (ESL), financial literacy, computer, GED and bachelor’s degrees.
As both a student and volunteer, Gonzalez embodies many aspects of Centro’s mission. Her own learning and personal growth have allowed her to integrate more fully into society while leading others in her community to do the same.
Gonzalez said she is grateful that she has the time and flexibility to give back, especially to her own community and as for her advice for others?
“We can all find even a little bit of time to help. It doesn’t have to be four days a week or even one day a week, just find some time to help,” she said.
Centro just recently graduated 15 women who received their GED and in September Centro will host a ceremony for an additional 15 graduates who earned bachelor’s degrees through the ministry.
If you want to help students like Gonzalez and the recent graduates continue to thrive at Centro, please consider a gift to the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal at give.archden.org. If you feel called to volunteer, please contact Centro at 303-295-9470. You don’t have to speak Spanish.