Maria Cecilia Arambula
Maria Cecilia Arambula, who goes by Cecilia, has been recognized for her contribution to the community in improving two of the quality-of-life indicators that Truckee Meadows Tomorrow tracks to determine, well, the quality of life in Washoe County. She was nominated in the categories of Safety in Schools and Parent Involvement in Schools and will receive her award at the biennial Accentuate the Positive event, which will be held Oct. 14. For more information about Truckee Meadows Tomorrow or to purchase tickets for the lunch, see www.quality-of-life.org. This interview was conducted through an interpreter, Fatima Rivas.
How did you get involved with being a safety patrol volunteer at Smithridge Elementary School?
I came here to the school in 1994. I noticed that we have the ability to help out with the students, so I came over and talked to one of the clerks at the office. I saw that the sixth-grade kids were the ones helping out the younger kids crossing the street, and I felt that that was unfair because they had to stand in the cold, so I started helping then.
Why was it unfair?
They were standing in the cold, and they were little. Although they were the oldest from the school, I felt that I could help better because I’m a mother.
Are you a mother of one of the children at the school?
I have two kids at the school, Francisco and Marco, sixth grade and kindergarten.
How many hours a week do you volunteer?
I work here Monday through Friday from 7:15 to 10:30 in the morning. I also help out by making copies, helping teachers—besides doing the patrol duties.
Do you have difficulties because of the language barrier?
Yes, the thing is I don’t know how to read or write in Spanish. That is a problem when I am trying to learn English. There are a lot of parents here in the school who are Hispanic, so I am able to communicate with the parents, and the teachers are able to help as well.
With those communication issues, how were you able to get the crosswalks painted?
When I noticed that they were having problems—there were no flashers, nothing—I talked to a police officer that I knew back then, Jose Arredondo. He speaks Spanish, so I was able to communicate with the officer, and he helped me out with the paperwork and everything necessary to get this started.
How do you feel about getting this award from the community?
I’m happy that I’ve been recognized for all the work I have performed at the school, and when I first heard about the recognition, I cried, and I was really excited. I’m really thankful of the teachers and especially the principal, who allowed me to get that opportunity to participate in the school and to get this recognition after 10 years of working at the school. At the beginning, it was really difficult for me to overcome because I was being criticized by some parents, and I also had some problems with language, but now I have overcome those barriers and continue to work at the school regardless of the things that were said about me.