The Power of a $25 Donation

How Contributions Lead to Big Changes During the Annual Fund Drive

A single $25 contribution alone may feel inconsequential when thinking about the cost of a college education or a nonprofit organization’s athletic programming for kids. But when that single $25 donation is multiplied by thousands of MAC members, it can have a far-reaching impact for the youth in this community.

In 2023, MAC members’ contributed more than $180,000 during the annual fund drive benefiting the Multnomah Athletic Foundation. Funds such as these create a ripple effect of opportunity, access, and hope. When MAC members entrust the Foundation with a contribution, it fosters a vital network for young people, supporting more than 20 youth-focused nonprofit organizations. These organizations – through the combined efforts of mentors, coaches, staff, and local high school professionals – provide a valuable space for kids to learn, compete, and thrive. This team also promotes the foundation’s scholarships for high school seniors, empowering countless individuals by increasing access to opportunities.

There are many stories to illustrate this community network but one story in particular starts with the game of tennis in a racquet center in the St. Johns neighborhood. The annual fund drive helped to support Portland Tennis & Education (known as PT&E, formerly called PAST and PASTE) and an incredible young woman and recent high school graduate, Cielo Barroso Espidio.

With a vision of a Portland where all kids have an equal-access playing field, PT&E provides K-12 students a point of entry to tennis (coaching, equipment, league play), academic support, life skills and character development, and family support – at no expense to participants. The program also offers participants the opportunity to compete in tournaments against tennis clubs, and the Foundation is proud to have supported PT&E’s work to support young people and their families in North Portland for five years. “As a student-athlete at PT&E for 12 years, I greatly benefited from the tennis lessons, clothes, food, and tutoring. Being a part of the program when I was younger afforded me the perspective of seeing how much impact PT&E had in my life, Barroso Espidio shares. I found promise in a successful future because other brown kids that looked like me were playing a predominantly white sport. We were empowered by coaches and tutors who provided tennis lessons, academic support, and encouraged us to bring our best to the world. This has motivated me to come back to the program and become a volunteer.”

Barroso Espidio’s resume is filled with academic success, athletic accomplishments, and a deep commitment to community and service. She is third in her graduating class at Central Catholic High School, the number one varsity singles player on her school team, the youngest recipient of the National Catholic Educational Association Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, and a repeat recipient of the Oregon Community Foundation’s Joseph E. Weston Foundation Award.  While her past successes are truly outstanding, her future is even brighter: Barroso Espidio recently committed to her first choice college to study this Fall.  As one of the Foundation’s 2024 Loprinzi scholarship recipients, the $10,000 award makes a reaching for that dream possible.

Barroso Espidio is a dedicated volunteer at PT&E where you will find her coaching and tutoring every other Saturday.  She has volunteered more than 70 hours during her high school career.  Barroso Espidio says she enjoys creating a positive and fun environment to spread the love for tennis while also helping kids grow in academics, incorporating spelling games into their tennis training. Seeing other Hispanic kids thrive and accomplish their goals brings her warmth and extreme pride.

In addition to the coaches, mentors and staff at PT&E, having a core group of friends and family who all are invested in her accomplishments is a huge motivation for Barroso Espidio. Success, to her, looks like helping people succeed themselves. Her success is also heavily tied that of her immigrant parents. Making them proud is her guiding light, knowing she would not be where she is today without their unconditional love, support, and sacrifices.

As someone who has played tennis since she was six years old, Barroso Espidio knows she can thank sports for the achievement of her personal goals. Her participation and commitment to athletics taught her discipline, structure, perseverance, and many other core values. Being a part of PT&E for 11 years has meant that her training and workouts intensified in length, discipline, and difficulty. Still, she enjoyed the fast pace, learning, and the feeling after attending practice. There was a fulfillment she felt after she hit a ball for hours and was dripping with sweat. Tennis has taught her discipline, which she has utilized in her school work. When she is frustrated that she cannot master a new skill or improve, she is patient with herself, and takes things one at a time. Barroso Espidio acknowledges that to reach her goals in both school and tennis, she must work hard and remain dedicated. From tennis, she gained the motivation to make her dreams come true.

PT&E’s Executive Director, Campbell Glenn Garonzik, shares: “Cielo is truly a shining light with such a bright future ahead! We feel fortunate that her family chose PT&E as a place for Cielo to learn and grow from a young age, and PT&E is honored to have been part of her journey for more than a decade. While Cielo’s own tenacity and her family’s unwavering support are key to who she is today, we are grateful that – with support from organizations like the Multnomah Athletic Foundation – PT&E has been able to create access to opportunity for brilliant young people like Cielo for nearly 30 years.” 

In her dream career, Barroso Espidio hopes to change the lives of her community members for the better. Her experience with the sport of tennis and her involvement with PT&E has encouraged her to dream of a job where she can be a light in the lives of others. It has pushed her to make a difference in this world – and the Foundation is honored to support Barroso Espidio on her path to do just that.

Thanks to the $25 tax-deductible donations from MAC members, many youths get to experience the valuable life lessons that athletic participation fosters and to follow their dreams. As part of an ongoing partnership to positively impact the community, the MAC Board of Trustees supports the annual member contribution in July.

Stay committed to making a difference! By maintaining the annual contribution, MAC members play a crucial role in this transformative journey. Every dollar counts, and together, we can create a brighter future for youth. Visit the Foundation’s website to discover more inspiring stories throughout July.

Published in the July 2024 issue of The Winged M Magazine.