As a member of a Brawley Union High School service club called The Village, student Christopher Carrillo hurriedly handed out fliers promoting the club during an art fair behind the Kiwanis Kiosk in Brawley on May 17.
“We are a club at the high school that helps the community through collecting and providing donations, whether it be food, monetary, clothes or even school supplies,” Carrillo said. “It all goes toward low-income students and their families. Believe it or not, there is quite a large amount of those throughout the school and the Valley.”
BUHS graduate McKenna Rodriguez started The Village as a senior project with friend Jacob Rodriguez in 2016. McKenna attended the small art fair recently and saw Carrillo continuing the legacy she helped start three years ago. She said it made her heart melt instantly.
“We wanted to create a safe place for low-income students to go where they would not be judged. We found an available room in the science building on the BUHS campus and asked the community to donate shelves, rags and a bunch of other stuff” to get started, McKenna said.
Beth Carson, a teacher at BUHS and club advisor for The Village, said she was excited to run into McKenna at the art fair. Describing the club, Carson said, “The Village is a group that provides clothing, school supplies, food, whatever our students need to be successful in school. It is absolutely free to all our students and their families.”
Teachers at BUHS are encouraged to discretely direct low-income students to The Village for school and personal supplies, McKenna said. She added she was overwhelmed with joy “to see something small like a senior project transform into something that really makes a difference in the community.”
Carson said the club would see anywhere from 45 to 75 students a week volunteer their time on what she called “collaborative Wednesdays.”
“One Saturday a month we have what we called workdays. Club members who need community service hours (as a graduation requirement) come to help with the rooms. We usually have 15 to 20 families show up on Saturdays,” Carson said.
Carson added that volunteers and donations from the community are always needed and welcome.
“School supplies and toiletries are the big ones. New things like socks go really fast. The community has been really generous in donating,” Carson said. “First Presbyterian Church (in Brawley) recently donated a stackable washer and dryer. So next year we are starting a laundry service as an elective for our students. I plan to have five to 10 student teacher assistants, like a class all working together as a community to help improve the lives of our students and make the club more successful.”
Meanwhile, with great passion for community service lighting a fire in his eyes, Carrillo explained how he found The Village. “I heard of the club through Mrs. Carson. I was interested in other community services organizations at school like the Key Club and the California Scholastic Federation. For me, it’s very rewarding to help others.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, donating or learning more about The Village can contact Carson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.