Every child is precious and deserves to have access to every good thing. Children are gifts from God and they are designed to be nurtured and taught in the way that will benefit them. Good instruction has the propensity to follow them all the days of their lives and has the capability to influence them as they increase in age. Our value should be of great regard to demonstrate for our children the kindness and compassion of humanity.

To be a mother has been the most joyous experience that I have ever lived. Caring for a child is one of the most important responsibilities that people can be entrusted for. Summer is here and it is that time of year when children look forward to summer break and endless hours of play. The search for summer care can be a grueling task and the financial cost can be challenging. As many program options tend to be made available for enrollment, concerns arise in the form of limited space, the programs are not for a full day, and meals may not be included.

La Prensa Texas had the pleasure of spending several days with Mrs. Verlyn Maldonado to learn about American Sunrise. Verlyn Maldonado is the Executive Director and is passionately involved in every aspect of this organization. American Sunrise is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Mr. Henry and Mrs. Mary Alice Cisneros in 2001. Their vision was to enrich their neighborhood, foster their community and advance the lives of those who need it most. They recognized what was lacking in their community and sought after the solutions that would bring about changes that would positively impact lives.

Located at 2007 W. Commerce Street, Mr. and Mrs. Cisneros were raised in this neighborhood and their family home is nestled among the properties which include the famed actress Carol Burnett’s childhood home. In an unconventional approach, the Cisneros’ chose against erecting an industrial modeled building and opted to renovate a house to become the home to American Sunrise. All the programs, activities and resources are made available to all of the students and their families for free. Utilizing its convenience of close proximity, this campus of charming houses serves a multitude of purposes. On my tour I was able to view areas designated for the learning center, community center, class rooms and conference area. Every day the students are engaged in after school care and, in June, summer programs at no cost.

American Sunrise provides all of its programs for free to its participants and is supported by recognizable institutions throughout the city. Certified teachers are on staff to assist with homework assignments that students need help with and to teach new subjects. Texas A&M University at San Antonio works closely with the program and allows opportunity for university graduate students who are pursuing degrees in teaching to tutor, teach and instruct within the program. Meals are also provided for free to the students and this portion of the program is supported in part by the San Antonio Food Bank and Last Chance Ministries. A variety of learning activities have been precisely developed for American Sunrise that keeps the students attentive, intrigued and informed. The diverse array of opportunities includes:
v Online Reading Curriculum entitled “Reading Plus” v Online Scholastic Curriculum entitled “Yes! Our Kids Can (YOKC)”
v Educational Field Trips to include colleges and universities v Online accessible college readiness programs
v Access to internet
v Assisted in discovering their gifts, talents and skills
v Taught the differences of college, universities, trade schools and apprenticeships v Taught how to navigate and utilize the public library
v Adult Education and Training Programs
v SAT and ACT Preparation Many disadvantages within the neighborhood make evident the need for American Sunrise.

Families are disproportionately exposed to hardship by the lack of basic luxuries than other areas of San Antonio. Day to day essentials such as internet access, supplies for school and having an accommodating place that is adequate to study are just a few conditions. But even deeper, some households may do without electricity and may not have sufficient means to maintain consistent meals. With ever progressive changes in technology and the outline for how certain academic courses are taught in school, it becomes a dilemma for parents to assist students with their assignments. The high school dropout rate reflected in this neighborhood is at 42% and the impact of this program has the ability to change these dynamics.

Funding! How does such an advantageous outreach survive? People with big hearts, people who can empathize with those who could benefit from a helping hand and people who are willing to act on the compassion that is stirred in their hearts will make a difference. American Sunrise offers all these resources to the community for free. There is no cost for the students or their families to participate in any of the services that are provided. This is important to know because Mrs. Verlyn Maldonado organizes and hosts several events a year that specifically raises money to support all of their programs. On Mother’s Day they hosted the Celebration of Mother’s Luncheon at Magnolia Gardens. The luncheon honored six amazing women for their contributions to the community. The formal setting included live music, silent auction, a live paining session and a deliciously prepared meal. The who’s who of San Antonio was present and every mother in attendance was handed a parting gift. Moreover, the afternoon was filled with acknowledgments and time was set aside to showcase the students and recognize their families. Each student’s family was able to attend this luncheon with no out of pocket cost to them. This was made possible because of the hard work and consideration that the American Sunrise team invested to ensure that there were funds to support them. The beauty of this effort is that it binds the family together. It allows for the family to grow and to celebrate the mutual accomplishments together. This organization is certainly committed to extending and exercising love as much as they are invested in cultivating wisdom, knowledge and improvement.

Securing financial resources for a program of this magnitude is vital. Your support and generosity is much appreciated and surely is applied to a worthy cause. Verlyn Maldonado at 210-354-3976