Giving the gift of empowerment

WENATCHEE — Christmas gifts from Serve Wenatchee Valley this year came with a catch.

Everyone who wanted gifts for their kids had to complete two life-skills classes this fall.

No one was complaining on Thursday and Friday when 72 individuals and couples came to make Christmas stockings and pick out gifts.

“My kids can see things that we do together for them,” said Jesus Mojica, who was making stockings for his five children with his wife, Anna. “We can show them that they are important to us.”

He and Anna said they do not have the money to buy gifts for their children this year because they are both out of work. They said they appreciated the gifts they can pick out for their kids from Serve Wenatchee Valley’s Christmas program, but they also appreciated the classes.

They took a class on living within a budget and a class on parenting.

“I learned how to talk and how to read to the kids,” Anna said. “It taught me to have confidence as a parent.”

This was the first year that the Christian nonprofit organization made attending self-help classes part of their giveaway program. Director Bob Shepard said the program involved attending two classes out of a choice of several. Those also included household budgeting, employment readiness, how to prepare a turkey, auto maintenance and repair, and helping your child become a successful student.

Susan Cusick, a Serve Wenatchee Valley board member, said the way the gifts are presented to the people is another way the nonprofit hopes to empower them.

“It’s such a shift in thinking about giving,” she said. “Instead of benevolent, well-intentioned people handing gifts to them, these people are making Christmas happen for their families. It’s they who are picking out the gifts and wrapping the gifts. The whole idea is to empower you to provide for your family.”

Shepard said Serve Wenatchee Valley hopes to put on the same program next year.

Marty Rocha, who was putting glitter on a stocking for her 3-year-old child, took classes on cooking with a budget and auto mechanics and said she learned how to listen to her car for the sounds of problems, and to get those problems fixed as soon as possible to avoid bigger repair bills. In the cooking class, she said, she learned how to use coupons, which have saved her money.

Betty Bautista, working on stockings for her 3- and 4-year-olds, said she would have no gifts for her children this year without Serve Wenatchee Valley. She said she took the booking on a budget class along with a parenting class.

“I learned not to scream at my babies and to look them in the eye when I talk to them,” she said.

Rosalia Lopez is working but her husband, Rafael Castillo, is not and they said gifts would have not happened without Serve Wenatchee Valley. They both said they liked making stockings because it firmed up their sense of family.

“It’s all about family,” Castillo said.


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