Arturo, a retired veteran, and his wife, Toni, have donated their retirement years to developing and providing youth and community programs to the residents of El Rito, NM. Mr. and Mrs. Sisneros developed a learning center offering programming to the youth and their families in this primarily Hispanic region. The center, located in a mobile home across the street from their house, is unique for three reasons: 1) the degree of commitment, 2) the quality of the program, and 3) the sense of community and caring people in the program.
The Sisneros family devotes between 40-60 hours weekly to the children in their community. They purchased the trailer house over 5 years ago and have been working since then to provide these services for the children. The area in which they live is a rough neighborhood, where there are not many opportunities for extra-curricular activities.
The program is designed to give kids the opportunity to grow and learn within their own desires and limits. Mr. and Mrs. Sisneros use their own talents and interests to help the children learn and grow. Mr. Sisneros works specifically with computers and has taught the children to not only use computers but has also shown them how to fix and rebuild them. Mrs. Sisneros has a more creative touch, as she uses artwork and potting skills to help the children learn. Tutoring is available for writing, reading and other school subjects. Volunteers are parents and other adults from the community.
The sense of community at the Learning Center is unique. There are such positive feelings in the center as parents work with their children, or as a senior helps a neighbor child. The center is truly a home for many of the children after school. They receive love and encouragement, which builds their self-confidence and esteem. The Sisneros feel that they have been given so much that they want to give back to their community through this service. The program is funded through private donations and Save the Children.