Following in her grandfather’s footsteps


Courtesy of Leonor Nevarez

By Natalie VonderHeide

As a parent, a simple set of words can change your life drastically. For Leonor Nevarez, these words were cancer. It was near the end of the summer of 2008 when her eldest son was diagnosed with leukemia.  

As this life-changing set of words dramatically adjusted her life, Nevarez always found time to help the community. But, her son’s diagnosis wasn’t what sparked this passion for helping others. Growing up in a small village in Durango, Mexico, Nevarez’s inspiration for helping others blossomed from her grandfather. 

“People used to come to our house all the time asking for his help, and he used to help anybody,” Nevarez said. 

From finances to basic necessities, Nevarez’s grandfather did it all, while even getting in trouble a few times. 

Helping others is not a burden for Nevarez though. She explains that the way helping others is to her, is as if it is in her blood. 

“My mom used to live in California and she was the kind of person to help people too. So I think it’s in the family,” Nevarez said. 

Less than two weeks ago Nevarez participated in an event to help feed the homeless. The goal was to make and provide food outdoors for the less fortunate.

“We were feeding them and I was serving food so I have to use plastic gloves, so after we were done I was freezing cold, I mean my fingers were numb, so one of the homeless we were serving gave me his hand warmers that he had extra. I didn’t want to take them because they are sleeping outside and sometimes that’s the only thing they have, so he was like ‘no take it’ and I was like ‘no, I’m going home now’ but I had to take them because he insisted on me  taking them,” Nevarez said. “It makes you feel like these people really care and they’re willing to give you whatever they have because they’re grateful to have the things you do for them.”

Nevarez isn’t willing to let the volunteering chain in her family disappear though. Her daughter who carries the same name enjoys helping with her mom too. 

“It’s the same feeling as my mom. They’re all really nice and there was also this one time where this man just commented and said ‘you’re beautiful’ and that just really made my day,” Nevarez’s daughter said.  

The biggest problem with homeless people we face is that most of them don’t have IDs which won’t get them into many shelters. Additionally, the overwhelming amount of them can cause shelters to be too full or have not enough staff. A simple donation or a couple hours out of your day to help another in need won’t make much difference in your life, but a dramatic difference in others.

“We need to help more people and judge them less, in the end it’s worth it,” Nevarez said.

 It doesn’t take much commitment or time out of your day to help someone in need of extra help. Nevarez is a prime example of a hard working mother that still finds ways to provide for her children and those in need.