One of the best parts of working with the Cordova Community Council is watching some of our best and brightest grow up before our very eyes into young adults we can all admire.
That is certainly the case of our Teen Service Award winner, Kelvin Martinez. What a great story.
We first met Kelvin many years ago as the kid brother of another outstanding Rancho Cordova teen, Vanessa Martinez. Vanessa went on to serve on our All America City team, she was an intern here in City Hall and is now a student at Sac State, doing great things and planning to go on to Law School.
But this is not about Vanessa. This is about Kelvin, who was once a skinny kid brother, and is now an amazing young man who turned a volunteer assignment into a personal mission and perhaps a career.
Kelvin started volunteering with school kids at Cordova Meadows Elementary School during the summer of his freshman year at Cordova High. He and other members of the Cordova High Key Club were volunteer “camp counselors” during a six week day camp program for children there.
He must have stood out from the crowd, because one of the supervisors asked him to continue to come after school in the fall. And so he did. In fact, he came every day, for a few hours, playing with the kids, helping them with their homework, and being a big brother to all.
To tell the truth, he said, he wasn’t all that fond of little kids at that point. But one day he found himself trying to talk sense to a trouble-maker who was in danger of being booted from the afterschool program. As Kelvin recalls it, his conversation ended with a lot of tears and a decision by the child to make an apology for his transgression.
As the child reached the doorway, he suddenly turned around, ran back to Kelvin, and said: “Someday I want to be just like you.”
The rest, as they say, is history. He realized he loved what he was doing because it was making a difference.
Kelvin committed himself to the program that day. Every day thereafter, he would arrive after school, through his sophomore and junior years. When he became the president of the Key Club as a senior, he was able to lead the whole club to come to Meadows and help with the school’s community garden. By this time, Kelvin had become so much a part of the school, the adults there were beginning to look forward to Kelvin’s 18th birthday.
When that day came, Kelvin became eligible to be hired onto the staff of Cordova Meadows, which he was. Today, as a Sacramento State freshman majoring in history, Kelvin is working with a classroom of 20 children every day, helping with homework and other assignments, reading to them from a book and leading discussions about what they have read.
About a week ago, Kelvin had another moment he says he will never forget. And that was when the mother of one of his charges told him that her child talks about “Mr. Kelvin” at home all the time, that Kelvin is a role model he does not have a home, and she just wanted to say “thank you.”
Maria de la Torre at Cordova Meadows was one of two people nominating Kelvin for this award. She said:
“Kelvin volunteered at Cordova Meadows every day for four hours for a total of three years before going on to be hired as staff. He helped many students succeed and helped shape Cordova Meadows into the school it is today.”
Nora Stroke told us: “As a Key Clubber Kelvin never missed out on an opportunity to serve the community: Kids Day, Christmas Tree Lighting, Airshow, Fourth of July. Then, he clocked in thousands of hours at a local After School Program. He did this because he said it made a difference in the lives of the children he was helping, whether it was improving their grades or being a big brother.”
Kelvin is now hoping to someday become a professor of history, and we are happy to note that becoming an educator is a life goal for him. Because anybody who has met this remarkable young man and heard his heartwarming volunteer story would agree that some people were born to mentor others. You, Kelvin, just happen to one of them. Lucky us.
Your future has success written all over it. Congratulations on truly outstanding Teen Service to our community.