Translation: Meals for Needy Families
By Holly Williams, Current Staff
With the holiday season at hand, many programs are dedicated to helping families in need. Though some campaigns, like that of the Salvation Army, are better known, local drives can be just as powerful.
On November 23, eight Spanish students and two Spanish teachers from WBHS participated in an event at El Centro Hispano in Milwaukee aimed at providing Thanksgiving dinners to needy families. The volunteers set up an “assembly line” that produced a total of 1,500 complete meals in about two and a half hours.
“I wanted the students to be able to see what an impact their service can have on the lives and holidays of others,” said Spanish teacher Sara Ruiz.
Though the work was sometimes strenuous, most of the students gave positive reviews.
“I’ve done it before, and I really enjoy it. It’s really organized. It’s nice to see the fruits of your labor,” said East sophomore Marlo Kastner. “It was fun bonding with people my age from other cultures and different walks of life.”
Not only did the families gain from this event, but the volunteers did, too. While helping, students were able to practice their Spanish speaking skills and learn more about Hispanic culture.
“Spanish isn’t just the language, it’s the people,” said Spanish teacher Beth Kastner. “You haven’t experienced the language until you’ve experienced the community. It’s about immersion.”
“There is much higher Spanish speaking population in Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and even West Bend than most people are aware of,” added Ruiz.
Koerner agreed with this, saying, “When you’re sitting in class, you don’t always have the realization that people speak Spanish so close to home. It was cool to see people actually using the language.”
Volunteering at El Centro Hispano is not a new event for the high schools. Spanish students have been helping there for the past seven years. Traditionally, about 20 students have participated, according to Señora Kastner, who originally learned about this opportunity from a colleague.
As far as other opportunities for Spanish students to become involved, Kastner said, “There’s always something.”
She mentioned specifically that reading tutors are needed for elementary school students at Green Tree and that Casa Guadalupe, a Spanish community center in town, is often in need of volunteers.
(Top image: West juniors Brianna Greuel and Brittany Greuel volunteer at El Centro Hispano. Bottom image: The WBHS Spanish student volunteers. Photographs courtesy of Sara Ruiz.)