Former ShortStop Client Lifting up Poor Kids in Guatemala

Former ShortStop Client Lifting up Poor Kids in Guatemala


Rolando Rojas, 24, is fulfilling the motto “Lift as You Climb” by returning to Guatemala for the first time in six years to deliver school supplies to children who lack the basics like shoes and books.

Rojas learned the motto while at Year Up, an educational nonprofit in Boston that helps young adults move from minimum wage jobs to professional careers in one year. Rojas graduated with honors from Year Up and is now using an $800 grant from the organization to lift up his community.

“Basically, it stands for don’t forget where you came from and bring all your teammates with you,” he said.

Rojas will travel to Guatemala for the first time in six years in December and hopes to have 80 backpacks filled with supplies and small toys. In addition to receiving the $800 grant, Rojas is raising money to defray the cost of shipping. He’s set up a GoFundMe page called Every Pencil Counts and has raised $195 so far.

Like many, he came to the U.S. to get an education and help his family. He was homeless for two years and lived at Wayside Youth & Family’s Shortstop program in Somerville, Mass. Shortstop is a community-based program that provides homeless young adults age 18-22 with transitional support.

“It was transition to independence, basically,” he said. “That’s what they do, they give coaching like how to do your taxes for the first time, make sure you have MBTA pass every month and how to set up your first bank account. Real life stuff.”

Shortstop was his last stop in a long list of programs, shelters and foster care. Rojas is in his second year of college and just completed an internship at BNY Mellon in Boston.

“For the past six years living in the U.S., I’ve volunteered at several nonprofits and tried to help the homeless, veterans, in one way or another,” he said. “My long-desired goal, however, is to help children in poor communities, back home, in Guatemala.”

For more information or to donate, visit Every Pencil Counts.

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