For the 5 th year in a row, the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso’s (HACEP) Jurisdiction-Wide Resident Council (JWRC) held its Back-To- School and Health Fair, sponsored by Superior Health Plan, Saturday benefitting approximately 300 children from area public housing and neighboring communities throughout the Mission Valley.
“The beginning of every school year should be an exciting time in a child’s life,” expressed HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon. “So every opportunity we have to offer our HACEP children a chance for a fresh start is an opportunity worth pursuing – and today we pursued 300 opportunities. We appreciate our resident representatives and our Community Services team putting this event together every year to make this happen.”
Latin-Dance music filled the air as the Kennedy Community in the Mission Valley of El Paso, one of HACEP’s largest public housing communities, was transformed into a festival arena in which over 20 public and community service organizations covered every square-foot of the gym. 100 ten pound bags from the food pantry and 300 backpacks, provided by Superior, stuffed with school supplies were also distributed along with other gifts for kids and parents from the community participants.
The JWRC, the public housing governing council made up of strictly residents, and volunteers gave away backpacks with supplies – an overall $30 value – to children ages 5 to 12 years old in an effort to set them up for superior success in the classroom in the fast-approaching school year.
For the past four years, the JWRC has positively impacted over 1,000 children and their families by providing these basic necessities that would have otherwise been a struggle to afford. These supplies inevitably offset the cost to families earning a small fraction of what the average family in El Paso earns. For any family, especially with multiple children in the household, the beginning of a school year can leave a dent in anyone’s wallet.
“Buying the basic supplies for one child can be a challenge,” states JWRC President Lilia Vasquez. “Buying the same supplies for two, three or even four children becomes a true struggle – so we are here to help ease that pressure one family at a time.”
Each backpack was filled with notebooks, crayons, pencils, rulers, markers, scissors, glue, erasers, paper and folders. Hundreds of little faces lit up with delight as they picked up their backpack, and continued their journey with the day’s festivities.
Additionally, 100 families walked away with a 10-lb bag of groceries. Hundreds more acquired vital information on public services, healthcare, healthy eating, and even had a chance to shake a bon-bon in Zumba fitness classes.