When our colleague Kaleb Herring recommended him for an SLF internship, we took pause.  Of course, nothing with SLF is an automatic ‘no’ (we are a CaN-do team!) … but a high-school kid serving alongside three college-age interns all summer?

“Raul can handle it,” our McKay Lightning Rod declared.  “I’ve worked with him through the CaPES Community Progress Team and he’s a dynamo.”  Raul’s family was among the first to plant a plot at the Brown Road Garden that CaPES got started, and Kaleb knew Raul’s brothers from the GrassRoots After-School Soccer Program (GRASSP) and the Open Gym program at First Free Methodist Church, a longtime CaN Center.  It was like Raul was already a member of the SLF family, so we said yes.

He rocked the intern experience, showing a maturity and wisdom far beyond his years.  His joy and optimism were infectious. We learned he was active in his church (Salvation Army/Kroc Center) and the incoming student body president at McKay High School.  He not only kept pace with the other summer interns—who were outstanding—he often outperformed them.

So we weren’t too surprised a few weeks ago when Raul hit the front page of the Statesman Journal.  Twice.  Inspired by the “100-Day Challenge to End Homelessness” issued by HOME Youth & Re-source Center, he launched an ambitious idea:  Raise $350,000 to buy a former group home in the Capital Park neighborhood and turn it into an overnight youth shelter. (In another twist of syncronicity, the home is named for the late Catarino Cavazos, a founding SLF board member!)

The idea took off.  United Way made the first contribution, a whopping $100,000.  In turn, the Oregon Legislature authorized another $200,000. Private contributions ($25,000 so far) began rolling in, and Raul has been on the speaking circuit all winter.  Please consider joining SLF in supporting Raul’s big vision with a contribution to HOME Youth & Resource Center via the website www.supportraul.com.

College is next—possibly Georgetown University, which will make Raul the first in his family to earn a four-year degree.  A great testimony to his integrity, strong faith and steadfast drive. He knows that he has a job waiting for him at SLF … but he’ll probably be Governor or President first.  McKay High School has generated a great number of influential leaders—Sheriff Jason Myers, David Withnell, Olympians Gus Envela and Ryan Bailey, US Bank President Ryan Albritton, and major-league baseball player/coach David Brundage.  Add to the list Raul Marquez, class of 2018.

What’s your Neighborhood?