Connecting Kids to the World
Greeting a group of 45 kids at 7:00am is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Cisco Mercado started his day that way for eight years, as program staff and eventually site director at our Community Center Program at Tyson Elementary School. As Cisco tells it—when you work at a school for that many years, you get to see kids grow up, “I was able to see a couple groups of kids from kindergarten all the way through to middle school. I could see the impact I had, and knew Camp Fire was a constant in their lives.”
Cisco did much more than watch kids grow up—he helped grow a community, “I live in Mountain View so being part of Tyson was a way for me to be connected to the community and help build the neighborhood … help build a community within the school.”
Cisco has since been promoted to the position of regional supervisor for our school age programs, and is overseeing several program sites. The community he built and his connection to the Tyson program continues to live on.
During his time as site director at Tyson, Cisco implemented Service Learning, a project that was meant to help youth at Tyson connect to their community. Now as part of the fabric of the Tyson program every year, students choose an organization or vulnerable population to help and then they work hard all year to implement their project. In 2019, students at Tyson set out to collect items to donate to newly settled refugees in Anchorage. Students collected enough items to donate 250 bags to the Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services Program.
Cisco’s leadership has helped show youth that even one individual can make a huge difference and have a lasting impact on the world around them.
Camp Fire Alaska’s Community Center Programs serve youth in low-income neighborhoods at no cost to families. In 2019, 155 youth attended the program. The Tyson Community Center has provided youth in Mountain View a safe place to go before school since 2008.