Investing in dreams every week night for 4 years

Patricia Macias made St. Vincent de Paul’s Dream Center a family routine for her children and their futures

As Patricia Macias relishes the sweetness of peaches atop cottage cheese—her dessert—she glances to the Dream Center inside the Family Dining Room at St. Vincent de Paul, searching for her children. 

Itzel, 11, is steadfastly coloring with a volunteer at one of the center’s craft tables. Hannah, 6, is completing a school assignment in the homework room. And five-year-old Mateo…

“Where’s Mateo?” Patricia asks herself. “He’s always up to something!”

She eventually spots him jumping on the play mat with friends, and she focuses back on her youngest child, Gael, 2, who she’s holding on her hip.

For four years, Patricia has brought her children every week night to Family Evening Meal and the Dream Center for community and tutoring.

“I’m absolutely in love with it,” says the mother, who also has a 19-year-old son in community college. “I come every night because my children get help with reading, writing and math. I want them to excel in life beyond what my husband and I have provided them.”

Patricia is a full-time mom, caring for her children and home while her husband works installing granite countertops in remodeled kitchens across the Valley. They’ve had trying times, but it doesn’t get Patricia down. She says she and her husband have built their marriage, family stability and peace on their faith. 

In fact, it’s through that faith that she found SVdP. She learned about the Family Evening Meal and Dream Center opportunity through a church friend’s recommendation. And now, Patricia has made it her family’s routine because she considers the help her children receive invaluable. 

“I’m beyond grateful to the staff and volunteers,” Patricia says. “My children have grown so much. They get good grades, and their teachers tell me how well they’re performing.”

The Macias children attend Ignacio Conchos Elementary School and Ed and Verma Pastor Elementary School in south Phoenix, where the family lives. Itzel has particularly advanced at Verma Pastor.

“Last year, she mastered her grade-level tests, and her teachers considered bumping her up early to the next grade,” Patricia says.

Dream Center Supervisor Cindy Bernardo attests to the same growth in the Macias children. 

“They are just tremendous,” says Bernardo, who has seen them develop over the years and notes their character achievements as well. “They are so helpful, kind and always cheerful.”

“And they have dreams,” Bernardo continues, “dreams that they talk about.”

Back at the dinner table, Patricia smiles as she looks around. She’s happy because tonight they may be her children’s dreams, but the Dream Center helps make them tomorrow’s possibilities.

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