Read Samantha Monterrey‘s story first hand as a new resident to Yakima, as a teen and her involvement in YouthWorks pageants, and now as the Volunteer Coordinator for North Star Lodge, ‘Ohana, and Children’s Village.
“I knew from a young age that I wanted to understand what it felt like to belong to a community. Because of our constant moving, I never truly felt like I belonged to a particular school or community. Just when I got comfortable somewhere, we packed up and left. I never imagined that a rural agricultural town of 16,000 people would become my refuge.
Sunnyside was the first time I truly felt accepted. It was the first-time people of different walks of life would take me and my family in as their own. Fast forward to my junior year of high school. I wasn’t a scholar or an athlete. I blended well with the different social groups but I wasn’t popular. I was comfortable in my own shoes for once in my life and I was content with that.
Advisory was a new concept at the time and one I had zero appreciation for it at first. When Mr. Martinez asked me to be a coordinator for the Mr. Sunnyside High School pageant, I never imagine the long-lasting impact it would have on my life. The very sense of belonging I had longed for had become a part of my youth. I was giving back to my community without even knowing it.
I remember the day I met the wonderful staff of The Memorial Foundation and the tour of Children’s Village and Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I remember our miracle baby, her family and how incredibly grateful her parents were that the young people of our community were involved in making such a big impact on the lives of local children and families with special health care needs. We returned to school knowing how important our roles as coordinators and contestants were and we weren’t going to fail in them.
Children’s Village is often referred to as “a beacon of hope” in our community. It is hope for the children and families who receive the necessary services they probably wouldn’t receive otherwise. It is hope for parents who receive a diagnosis of their child and feel lost, scared and confused. It is hope for providers that know that they are helping someone to live a better life. And for me, it is the beacon that reminds me of the true power a community can have when it comes together to take care of its own.
Ten years later, I have found myself appreciating this familiar place for similar but vastly different reasons. As a staff member here, I have come to know and understand the many facets that make Children’s Village a magical place. This is a place that truly changes lives in more ways than we know. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of it.”