Year Joined MKLM: 2011
Country: El Salvador
Focus: Education, Economic Development and Pastoral Care
Project(s): Education, faith formation, family literacy, and adult and youth skills training.
People Served: Settlors in La Esperanza (The Hope) community
Project Goal(s): Facilitate base communities, adult literacy, youth development and job skills
Rick serves in the La Esperanza community of Cojutepeque in St. John the Baptist Parish. His ministry takes place in a squatter settlement that dates back to the El Salvador civil war. Most people do not have title to or own the land where they live. Services such as education, nutrition, sanitation, worker development and housing programs are extremely limited. Fifty percent of the adults in the community are illiterate. There is only one public high school for a town of sixty thousand people. Only forty percent of Salvadorans have a high school education.
Rick promotes education, family literacy, and adult and youth skills training to help people develop confidence, leadership skills, self-esteem and handicraft abilities. He started both a library and family literacy program, which take place in the community chapel. The library includes a small mobile wheelbarrow, which Rick hauls to different homes to engage children, parents and young adults. As a way to promote understanding and healing, he encourages them to tell their stories. Rick provides the youth with Art, English, and Music classes. He accompanies small Christian base communities, which distribute food to indigent families and visit the sick. In the parish, Rick is involved in family pastoral outreach, formation programs, retreats and workshops.
Rick reflects: “When it comes to the mission work that we’re doing here, like the family literacy program and the small mobile library (complete with wheelbarrow), I don’t let a day pass without giving thanks to the people of La Esperanza, who usher me into the heart of God.”
Rick loves to teach guitar and share music with his students. “Most kids have no idea what they can get from the guitar (or staying in school), but I’ve found that if someone is there to encourage them and tell them to keep working at it – they get better. They get excited about playing, or reading, and that opens so many other doors.”
Rick is originally from Orange, CA, but lived in New York, where he worked for the Queens Library in their adult learning center. Rick has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Azusa Pacific University, CA, and a California Teaching Credential from California State University, Fullerton.