Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Esperanza means hope


December 25, 2019

Courtesy Photo

Casa de la Esperanza students participate in STEM program

Colorado state minimum wage is $11.10 an hour. But by various exemptions provided by law, many agricultural workers make only $7.25 per hour.

That might be enough during the long days of summer, but for those whose livelihoods fluctuate with the seasons, winter can be an economically trying time.

Casa de la Esperanza means House of Hope, and this local organization is dedicated to supporting agricultural workers and their families year-round. In 1993, the first migrant laborers moved into this unique housing community. Since then, the program has blossomed to include a rich extra-curricular program for the community's children.

"We offer services our families might have a hard time finding," explained Lesley Quintana, program assistant and volunteer coordinator. Since the children live on site, it is easy for them to walk over and participate in extracurricular programs. These programs include rocket club, tutoring, robotics, art, sports, scouts, and summer camp. Next year, Quintana hopes to add photography classes to the repertoire.

The feeder schools for this community are Indian Peaks Elementary, Sunset Middle, and Niwot High. And although these schools offer robotics programs, Quintana said Latino participation was markedly low. Once Casa initiated its own robotics program, students of all ages started participating. The high school team now competes annually against national and international teams at the University of Denver.

Casa de la Esperanza is run by Boulder County, but it relies entirely on its non-profit to fund its after school and robotics programs. If you are looking for a cause to support this holiday season, you can donate online or contact Quintana at lquintana@bouldercounty.org to inquire about volunteer opportunities.

There are other, less traditional ways to support the community's youth; you can support Niwot Elementary just by eating noodles.

On Jan.14, Noodles & Company will donate a percentage of every meal purchased to Niwot Elementary School. This is part of a Dining for Dollar$ campaign that changes venue every month. As of this summer, it is also possible to link your King Soopers awards card directly to Niwot Elementary. Every time you make a purchase at King Soopers, Niwot stands to benefit. "We could definitely increase the number of people using that rewards system," said Brenda Teig.

Teig is president of the Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee (PTAC) at NES. This non-profit supplements the limited budget that Niwot Elementary has for extracurricular activities.

This year's Cougar Campaign, PTAC's largest annual fundraising effort, very nearly reached its $50,000 goal. PTAC would be thrilled if the community could chip in to hit the target, which is intended to add six new paraeducators to the school's staff. Para-educators allow teachers the flexibility to break students into smaller groups for the individualized attention students need.

When there is money left over, PTAC is able to grant teachers' requests for in-classroom activities and supplementary materials. It also pays for buses for field trips and supports the Trip Tracker program, which encourages students to walk, bike, or catch a bus to school. "There's a plethora of those tiny little things, a hundred bucks here and there," said Teig.

There are a multitude of ways to support Niwot Elementary, such as https://www.niwotptac.com/fundraising.html. The school also welcomes parent and non-parent volunteers. Email presidentniwotptac@gmail.com for more information.

Investing in our youth provides hope for the future, but opportunities to give locally abound. Help preserve our past by becoming a member of the Niwot Historical Society, beautify our present by supporting the Niwot Cultural Arts Association, or give back to the community at large through the Niwot Rotary Club. For a more extensive list of local organizations to support, take a look at "Be the Change You Wish to See" in our March 27 edition.


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