He first walked into the Kids Club community room in the fall of 2008, eager and ready to volunteer. He looked around at the space we had secured for Kids Club and we could see in his eyes that he wanted to say, “Really! Is THIS where you are going to run this shin-dig?” He was a bit stand-off-ish and we really didn’t know what to think. However, he took his role seriously and started finding ways that he could help out.
The next day he showed up to kids club, he walked in the room and without saying a word, started installing some coat racks that he had purchased. After he finished, he nodded our way and said, the kids can’t just be throwing their things on the ground, their coats and bags need a place to go. Next, he installed a white board on the wall. Then he showed up with a catalogue and told Emily to pick out some shelves because the place needed to be organized. After he would do his daily improvements on the room, he would stay and read with the children or help them with their homework.
Then he started showing up with cases of Apple Juice, then the occasional hot dogs, and of course, eventually, ice cream. No wonder he quickly became a favorite of the Kids Club students and became known as the well-loved, Mr. Tracy.
Everything about Mr. Tracy is great! He is fun. He jokes around. He goes sledding with Kids Club. He goes to Nats games. And most of all, he drives a really cool Honda van, which he lets us borrow all the time!
When we started the Wright to Read tutoring/mentoring program last year, he was one of our first volunteers to sign up, faithfully meeting with a student from Kids Club every week, helping with homework and practicing reading. However, Mr. Tracy didn’t stop at the edges of Kids Club, Wright to Read and field trips. He went the extra mile. He started picking kids up at the park every week to take them to church and Sunday school and on some weeks, the lucky ones got to hang out at his house for a bit, shooting the breeze with the Rickett family, sometimes even getting to eat some BBQ’d ribs, before they returned home to a boring Sunday afternoon. (We still hear about how great those ribs were to this day!)
We, Ms. D., Ms. Emily, the students and the members of the intentional community could go on for hours talking about what Mr. Tracy has meant to Casa Chirilagua as an organization but more over to each of us individually. The aforementioned list is only the tip of the iceberg.
Words cannot express the incredible amount of gratitude we have in our hearts for you, Mr. Tracy, and the many ways you give of yourself on behalf of these students. May the Lord richly bless you and continue to use you in incredible ways as you choose to steward well your time, talents and treasure.
After Mr. Tracy was announced as the 2010 Casa Chirilagua Volunteer of the Year, the room was filled with the sounds of the Kids Club Students chanting his name, over and over, as he approached the platform to receive the award.
One of the students who has become a regular attender at Mr. Tracy’s church, accompanied Mr. Tracy and his family to their home after church to help them find the perfect place to hang Mr. Tracy’s new award. She was pretty proud of herself for helping find the perfect spot on the office wall, right next to an award he received from the sheriff. It was confirmed, once again, in all of our minds, why Mr. Tracy was the perfect selection for the volunteer of the year award.