Lorraine Eberhardt is an example of how grassroots support has an impact on Puente’s ability to serve the community. Eberhardt and her family give a modest monthly donation to Puente, and it really adds up. Each year, Eberhardt’s donations enable Puente to buy holiday-time gift certificates for six families. Yet Eberhardt downplays her contributions.
“I feel like it’s the least I can do. I see what Puente does for the community. I wish I could do more,” she says.
Eberhardt lives at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch in La Honda with her husband and son, who just graduated from Pescadero High School. As YMCA Group Services Director she lives in a home on camp property, deep in the tranquil redwood forest. She first became aware of Puente eight years ago, when staff members approached the camp about starting a Puente summer program and bringing in Puente youth workers to supervise as junior counselors.
Growing up on the South Coast requires a creative approach to extracurricular and educational opportunities, one reason why Lucas was thrilled when he heard about a new program Puente was offering high school students: a year-long interdisciplinary Introduction to Latin American Studies course through the SAAGE (Stanford Academic Alliance for Global Enrichment) initiative of the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford. He joined a handful of his classmates and other students from East Palo Alto for the seminar experience which was a big success.
“He loved that program. It was very eye opening for him. It was great socially, because he was going over the hill, meeting other high school students. He got his first taste as to what college was like. And it pumped up his GPA,” says Eberhardt. When Lucas graduated from high school this summer, he was class salutatorian. He is headed to college at Belmont University in Tennessee to study nursing in the fall.
With her son out of the house, Eberhardt is hoping to find some time to volunteer with her favorite local nonprofits, South Coast Children’s Services and Puente.
“It just seems like Puente is involved at every level, whether education for families or free help at tax time. Puente is so tuned in to people’s needs and makes sure that they don’t do without,” says Eberhardt.
To donate to Puente, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/puente