Last April 2011, my wife and I helped the Autism Classroom of the Roberto Silva Morales Elementary School in Juncos PR, with materials and sensory equipment purchased with all the donations we gather from the customers of several Subway stores. This year, again in harmony with the International Autism Awareness Month, my wife and I decided to help this classroom once more, and we worked together to get a donation from Amgen (the company I work for). With the donation, one of the things the school bought was one of those big wooden gym sets with swings, sandbox, slide, monkey bar, etc. My wife thought that maybe I could help setting the wooden gym, to which I immediately accept when she told me, but then I thought it would be even better if I could gather a group of people with whom I work every day in the project LRPM 2011. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I started mentioning the idea to the team their response was of total support.
We setup the date and we went there on the afternoon of 04-03-12 with tools and eager to help. Before we started the construction, I introduce the team to the teacher (Ms. Doris Camacho), who was impressed with how many people had taken from their own time to do this (special thanks to Mayra, William, Steven, Omar, Erik, Javier R., Javier C., and Rafael). Even though we were a team of 9 people, the equipment had so many screws and different parts that it took us some long hours to put it all together. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm and teamwork remained evident, not only for the satisfaction of what and for who we were doing that, but because we were taken good care of with food, water, and even fresh lemonade. The mastermind of that was my wife Daisy, who also got a donation from Subway Juncos (they always answer yes when you ask them), of an exquisite platter of sandwiches along with a box of their delicious cookies for Amgen’s volunteer employees. Thanks Daisy, Amy, and Ronald.
During construction, I received a wonderful surprise with the visit of my son Diego and my daughter Sofia. Diego immediately began to inspect our progress and wanted to climb the ladder. At the end, already night-time, we were pleased of what we had done but there was still something missing. We had to actually see the kids enjoying the wooden gym in order for the experience to be complete. So the next day I talk to the teacher and we went there during our lunchtime. There we had the opportunity to watch them play with it, laugh and had a great time. Even one of them give us thanks for it.
For me, and I know for the rest of the team, it was an amazing experience were we had the opportunity to help these wonderful kids, this excellent classroom and teacher, and in addition to all that, it open the channel for conversation about Autism and all its different variables. This is what awareness truly means.