Written by Luis Mex

I wanted to share a realization that I had when I returned from college recently. My math lecture had finished, and I went home. I was about to get ready for work, but I just had to stop. I looked at a tree by the mailboxes at Villa Garcia. It just caught my attention, and I just didn’t know why. So I went inside and I got ready for work. But for the next week, every time I got ready for work, I passed the tree, and I noticed all these little things I never bothered to look at. The branches, for instance. There is so many more of them now. Also, the tree was standing by itself. It no longer had the support posts that were there when the tree was originally planted. And that’s when everything made sense to me.

I was there when the tree was planted so many years ago. I helped dig the hole. I helped fill it back up. I helped make sure it was supported. When it was first planted, I used to walk past it and feel so good about that. Then I stopped for a couple of years. I didn’t even pay attention to this tree. I didn’t even watch it grow. It was just something that happened in the background.

This made me think about my experience at Many Mansions. I have been in Many Mansions longer than the tree has been here, and I never stopped to think that in the background, I have also been growing up. I was growing up inside this property, inside this organization and in this community. I related with the tree. At one point, I also had my little support post. I also had someone help put me in the ground and made sure I got water and all the nourishment I needed.

When I first started in homework club, I was always the kid who worked from the time I go there to the time program closed. I did not like doing homework, and I didn’t always finish. By the volunteers were so patient, sitting next to me and making sure I stayed focused. Then I grew up, became a teen, and they were still there, helping me. I was actually pretty shy, which might be shocking to the people who know me now. But I didn’t really want to talk to people. Learning how to became my first step towards leadership and becoming a good example.

I stepped up and became a role model. I got close to the kids at the different sites as a teen, and, when I turned 18, I asked Many Mansions for an internship and got a job. It wasn’t until this year that I fully understood how much that meant to me, being hired fresh out of high school. Many Mansions took a chance on this young man that just had a passion, nothing more than a passion. They helped mold me into the man I am today. My motivations, my goals, and my achievements has its roots in Many Mansions. No matter what happens in the future, there will always be a part of Many Mansions in me where that seed was planted.

This tree really helped me reflect on the things Many Mansions has helped me and the programs they provide, all the support. This tree helped me remember how thankful and appreciative I am of everything Many Mansions has done for me. If it weren’t for Many Mansions, I wouldn’t have grown up the same way that I did.

Every time I walked past this tree to this day, I stop, even if it’s only for five seconds. I stop to appreciate the tree itself and the journey that it’s gone through. It got me thinking—the tree’s support posts are gone. Mine are really gone too. This tree is just doing its own thing now. Sure, it might not be able to move on to a different place, but now I am certain that I will someday. One day, I will have my own little patch of grass, and I will continue to grow.