EL PASO, Texas (KVIA)- Volunteering and giving back to your community can offer a sense of purpose and allow you to stay connected. I had the chance to sit down with a local Fabens man, the ABC-7 Do-Gooder of the Month, Alfredo Valenzuela Jr. During my time with him, he spoke about the importance of giving back to the community and devoting time to pay it forward.
His passion for helping others began as a child and continued through high school; he said, "From a very early age, I've been very involved in the community of Fabens."
Helping others became his second nature. He graduated from Fabens High School and received the Gates Millennium Scholarship; the scholarship program promotes academic opportunities for exceptional minority students. Valenzuela Jr. went on to study as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, he returned to Fabens and continued his obligation.
"Some of my best friends are volunteers, so I continue volunteering whenever possible." He said.
When the world paused temporarily during the Covid-19 pandemic, he didn't let that stop him from giving back. He created EXIT 49, a community organization that promotes community engagement. Members help distribute for the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank and the Fabens Mobile Pantry events. They also provided support at several El Paso mass COVID-19 vaccination events.
His newest venture includes the launch of Google Classroom to guide and support students beyond high school. Through EXIT 49 and Google Classroom, Valenzuela has awarded $7000 scholarships to graduating seniors in the Fabens, Clint, Tornillo, and Anthony Independent School Districts.
One of those students, Ariana Bañez, applied for the EXIT 49 scholarship--she jumped at the opportunity and signed up.
"I'm so grateful. There will be a lot of student debt that comes with college. It's going to help so much." She plans to attend a college in New York and study Neuroscience. Bañez says she will use the money on textbooks and other expenses.
Valenzuela's friends appreciate his hard work and hope to one day follow in his footsteps. Leilani Rodriquez said, "The way he's helped the community has helped me see how I can help."
He has no plans to stop his humanitarian efforts. He said, "I feel uniquely responsible to give back in any way I can."
If you know someone doing great things in the borderland community, just like Alfredo Valenzuela Jr., you can nominate them here Do-Gooder - KVIA.
Connect with Alfredo Valenzuela Jr.
Facebook: EXIT 49
Instagram: _ exit 49