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Groups help man clean up house

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By Don Pace

A grateful Patrick Arguello said he was touched by the kindness shown him by members of three organizations who helped him clean his home after a faulty heater caused smoke damage and nearly sparked a fire that could have left him homeless.

“I certainly had a lot of help, and I really appreciate it. I’m indebted to them because they actually made me come to my senses because there for a while I was giving up on cleaning, but now that this happened, their kindness touched my heart and made me feel really, really good,” Arguello said.

Arguello was talking about students from the United World College working with the Peace and Justice Center and the New Mexico Hispano Coalition who were busy washing dishes, cleaning and tidying up his property.

Pat Leahan of the Peace and Justice Center said many people don’t have money to buy things for people but said residents can help each other with their time and energy.

“We wanted to assist in some way. We heard he could use some help in getting his house in order. He’s a great musician, and we got to hear him play the drums while we finished cleaning up. That was cool,” Leahan said. She said it was a nice way to help a community member.

Second-year UWC student Alice Konghende from Cameroon; Sal Laballo, a first-year student from Indiana; Julie Pittman, a second-year student from North Carolina; Mathew Freimuth, a first-year student from Tennessee; and Arielle Hawney, a second-year student from Washington state volunteer with the Peace and Justice Center, are kept busy with a variety of projects and requests from those in need.

“We’re helping clean up a community member’s house today. I’m part of the Peace and Justice Center’s volunteer group, and this is one of the many things we spend our time doing. I think it’s a valuable way we can help on a one-to-one basis, and that’s an important part of what we do,” Hawney said.

Hawney said the work is definitely not always easy, but at the end of the day, one leaves with a warm heart.

“There’s something to be said for the experience in terms of how to adjust your perspectives, and it’s a bit of a humbling experience sometimes — in that respect, it’s a very valuable thing to experience, especially as a youth,” Hawney said.

Hawney said there’s a group of UWC students who come to the Peace and Justice Center once a week to do volunteer work.

“What we do really depends on the needs of the center and the needs of the community and what’s been requested, so there’s different things every week and this week it happened to be cleaning,” Hawney said.

Hispano Coalition President Steve Flores said his group has been busy helping people with all kinds of projects and noted the World College has been especially generous in helping those in need.