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Making a Difference One School at a Time: A Volunteer’s Story

April 30, 2012

Victor arrives at the school early to sketch a roadrunner-themed mural that highlights the school's mascot.

The following is a volunteer testimonial provided by Victor Acevedo, a volunteer with HandsOn Inland Empire/Inland Empire United Way who uses his artistic gifts to make a difference in the lives of local children. 

In October 2011 my sister Denise told me about a project the local United Way was putting on. A nearby school was in bad shape and needed volunteers to paint some murals and put in some gardens. Drawing has always been a hobby of mine, so Denise thought I’d be a good volunteer to sketch one of the murals they were going to paint.

When I showed up on the day of the project, I was amazed at what I saw and felt. Over 300 people showed up, just because they wanted to and could. It’s hard to describe in words, but there was a vibe in the air – everyone knew something big and special was going to happen that day. And it did! Between all the painting, planting, and gardening, we totally transformed the school.  To this day it still amazes me how much we did.

Victor (lower right) poses with the volunteers who are painting in his design.

A few months later I found out that United Way was looking for volunteer muralists for a second school renovation project at a different school. As soon as I found out, I signed up. I had a great time again using my interest in art to help the community, and once again I walked away feeling like I made a huge difference.

Now I can say that I am hooked on volunteering, especially for Inland Empire United Way’s school renovation events. What I like most about it is that when I volunteer, I feel like, for a day, everything is right in the world—that people actually care about things and people besides themselves.  I get to become part of a friendly environment and I get a sense of fulfillment by doing something for other people.

Students couldn't wait to play a game of handball against their newly painted wall!

I have always wanted to have the means to change other people’s lives, but for most of my life I assumed that you needed to be wealthy to make a big difference. Being part of these projects has taught me that it’s not true. You don’t need a ton of money. All you need is some time, effort, and teamwork. Thank you to United Way and to HandsOn Inland Empire for helping to teach me this lesson and for letting me be a part of the these events!

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