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No strings attached

Disabled man and his church group do good without asking for something in return

Posted: August 8, 2014 10:01 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2014 10:01 p.m.

Vida Real gathers donated supplies each week and transports a grill to a community area in Valle Del Oro.

 

Ivan Del Cid was a victim of a violent crime and was shot in the back five times. He lost the use of his legs and was confined to a wheelchair. He became depressed and saddened by his prognosis, until he began to attend Vida Real.

After attending the church, he became uplifted and inspired. Now, in spite of his handicap, he began serving the community he lives in: Newhall.

Over the course of the summer, Del Cid and other volunteers from a life group at Vida Real Church, the Spanish language ministry of Real Life Church, began hosting a barbecue in the Valle del Oro community in Newhall. The idea was to simply provide a small way to bless the community.

The group was asked to think of ways to affect the community. Immediately he thought of the many children and teens who live in Valle del Oro who are out of school for the summer and have nothing to do.

Del Cid wanted to find a way to keep the youth of the community out of trouble. Many of them hang out at the pool so he thought offering a free barbecue to them and their parents was a great start.

“What is more practical than feeding someone?” Del Cid said. “We aren’t pushing church on them. We just want them to know we want to be a part of the community.”

The group gathers donated supplies each week and transports a barbecue grill to a community area in Valle del Oro. They began by feeding about 100 people. Slowly, the crowd grew as people began to realize the gesture had no strings attached.

Initially, the burgers, buns and other food items were bought by members of the life group. Once the group decided to continue the Friday night barbecues, other members of the church began donating items, money and time to help the effort.

“In a practical way we are showing the community we care,” said Mario Ortiz, pastor of Vida Real. “We are not trying to get something from them, we just want to give.”

Mentoring and serving

Del Cid explained his motivation is twofold. Being confined to a wheelchair, he often receives help from other people. People often consider him limited in his capacity to serve. Serving the community is a way for him to give back to others.

“You only limit yourself by the barriers you put on yourself,” he said. “I am a better person to be able to serve someone else.”

His other motivation is to help keep teens and young people out of trouble and away from gangs and drugs. With three kids of his own, he understands it can be challenging to keep them out of trouble.

“When we reach out to them and guide them in the right way, we can make an impact on them and the community,” he said. “I feel inspired by the people of the church. I want to spread that joy to everyone.”

Blessings with no strings attached

Many religious organizations come through the Valle del Oro community. Initially, many of the parents were skeptical of the idea that the outreach had no hidden agenda.

“It took some of the parents a while to realize we were serious about blessing them with no strings attached,” said Orlando Flores, the leader of the Valle del Oro Life Group. “To us this is just another practical way of showing Christ’s love, by feeding them for free.”

Arturo Romero, another member of the life group, is completely blind in one eye, with only 20 percent vision in the other. Despite his limitations, he was also excited to serve.

“We just want to be a good example to these kids,” Romero explained. “We want to make an impression on their lives and help them and the community in any way we can.”

Romero was very inspired to help. One Friday when the group couldn’t find someone with a pickup truck to take the barbecue up the hill to the community, Romero wheeled the barbecue uphill on foot.

The group wants to help others and inspire teens to stay out of trouble. The Friday barbecues will be held through the end of summer, but the group has plans to begin other ways of reaching out to Valle del Oro during the fall season.

“Doing this every week reminds me that if we are committed to serve Christ we can do simple things and impact people in greater ways,” said Flores.

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