There are a handful of people in Elvis Bueno’s life that mean the world to him. It’s evident by the way he smiles when he talks about them, or how he puffs up with pride when he speaks their name.
“The reason I am the way I am today is because of my grandpa, Alberto Jarquim,” Elvis says, his voice sharp with emotion and chest puffing up to show respect. “And my mother, Jimena Jarquin, and grandma, Elba Gutierrez. After my father left when I was three years old and my mom struggled, my grandparents took me in. They’re everything to me, and they were always there for me, giving me everything I ever wanted – clothes, food, shoes. Even if they didn’t have the money, they’d find a way. Today, I’d do anything for them.”
But there’s another man that Elvis – a 20-year-old who calls Nicaragua his second home – also holds in high esteem: Tim Mathewson, his Pathways Danbury Mentor.
“Oh man, I love him! He is my right hand,” Elvis said, a big grin spreading over his face. “I can’t thank him enough. You’d never believe the struggle I was having in my freshman year. I was failing most of my classes, and he was always right there, helping me with school work. He said ‘give me a call whenever you need help’ so I kept asking more and more.”
It’s paid off.
Today, Elvis – one of the first students to attend and graduate from The Academy (PDYM’s middle school for at-risk boys) – is not only a graduate of Danbury High School, but is now a certified machinist, having graduated from a program at Naugatuck Valley Community College. Next, on Elvis’s goal list – earning his Associates Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. And if that weren’t impressive enough, he’s doing it all while holding down a job (two jobs for a portion of time), and sharing a car with his grandfather because he hasn’t been able to afford his own car.
From where he sits, Tim Mathewson couldn’t be more pleased. “Elvis has grown into a fine young man, realizing the importance of advanced preparation for life by getting his associates degree along with his machining certification. I’m proud of him,” Tim said. “Elvis taught me about the challenges that are presented to a young person who is being educated in English when there is no English spoken in the home, and no resources to help with homework. He also taught me about the strength of his family. His grandparents did an amazing job of anchoring family support for Elvis and his siblings and their mother. I developed great respect for their constancy of purpose for raising Elvis with solid principles and values.”
As busy as his life is, Elvis says he might yet be in a completely different place if not for his involvement with the Jericho Partnership, which began Pathways Danbury Youth Ministries as a way to minister to at-risk youth in Danbury. Founder Bill Beattie has long held to the belief that mentoring – by loving, modeling and coaching – is “a significant strategy for strengthening urban youth.”
“It’s definitely true that I might be on the streets, or in jail” without his involvement with Jericho, Elvis said. “But I am a unique person for people my age. I’m not into drugs, no alcohol or any of that. I am into dancing. Most of my goodness is because of the people who helped me. So I can’t thank God enough for Jericho; the people here, it’s like a second family. They are always there for you. They’ll help you find your way, ya know?”