WTMC’s Lucero inspires others through volunteerism
ANDREW KUHN WASHTENAW VOICE
George Lucero isn’t your stereotypical 18-year-old.
While most guys his age are contemplating going off to college, Lucero is doing things a different way. He began his college education at 16 at Washtenaw Technical Middle College and constantly volunteers and contributes his time to three different organizations, lending a helping hand to the homeless. He also plays a varsity sport. “He seems very mature for his age; it is hard to believe he is only a senior in high school,” said Washtenaw Community College political science instructor Donna Wasserman.
“I am also impressed with his sense of purpose when it comes to helping those who are less fortunate. He devotes an incredible amount of time to helping the homeless.”
Born in Las Vegas, N.M., Lucero moved throughout the south because of his father’s military service before finally landing in Michigan from Alabama for his seventh-grade school year. Upon arrival in Michigan, Lucero began volunteering immediately, working with the Ann Arbor Army Reserve, where eventually his father would become the acting command sergeant major for the region.
JOE SHARP COURTESY PHOTO
Lucero would help with the “family support group” of the Army Reserve, a group that helps support the families of soldiers once they’re deployed. Organizing Christmas parties and raising money by parking cars at the University of Michigan football games, Lucero did whatever he could to help.
“People are so much more than their circumstances. They’re people, and everybody has a story,” Lucero said. “I do whatever I can to help.”
Since his seventh grade year, Lucero does at least 80 hours of community service annually for the support group alone and he’s getting his 12-year-old brother, Emilio, into the trend of helping — already having him park cars at UM games.
“His commitment is extraordinary,” said WCC Spanish instructor Nancy Ferrario. “Such humanitarian efforts on the part of someone so young are to be applauded.”
After transferring from Ann Arbor Pioneer to WTMC, Lucero was faced with a dilemma. Friends of his ran into some trouble and became homeless.
Naturally, Lucero was there to help. After searching, Lucero found a group of homeless people forming a small tent community. Though his intent was to find a place for his friends to reside, Lucero became addicted to helping members of Camp Take Notice.
Since then, Lucero has become part of Michigan Itinerant Shelter System Interdependent Out of Necessity (MISSION), an organization that works in partnership with Camp Take Notice. Lucero is a key contributor and is essentially the organization’s treasurer — all volunteer work.
“He’s pretty mature for his age, and that in itself is inspiring for me,” said MISSION board member and friend Brian Nord. “George is of course the youngest (volunteer at MISSION), and for him to take on the responsibility is inspiring to me.”
Despite his love for helping the campers, Lucero does face some difficulties. Often, board members or homeless campers have differing opinions, creating tension.
When asked what keeps him coming back to volunteer for the camp, Lucero said, “It’s the people I’ve met, both the volunteers and the campers themselves.”
When taking 16 credit hours at WCC and volunteering for three different organizations, time is precious.
“Time management is important; I have to know when to turn off the TV,” Lucero said. “I don’t view it as a lot of work. I just don’t stress about it. I do what I can, and if things work out, they do, and if they don’t, they don’t.”
After word of Lucero’s hard work spread, he was approached with the opportunity of another volunteering effort. This time, it was something about which he knew: sports.
ANDREW KUHN WASHTENAW VOICE
“Junta is the governing body of the Ann Arbor Ultimate Summer Club,” explained Lucero. “What I’ve done is the advertising for the league. I’ve done it for about a year now.”
With this new opportunity, Lucero is expected to recruit high school and college students to play Ultimate Frisbee with the league and help it grow by placing ads around Ann Arbor.
With all the volunteering and extensive school hours, Lucero tries to be around his family as much as possible. He has two sisters, Leilani, 9 and Marisa, 4, and brother Emilio, so Lucero knows he has to take a leadership role around the house.
He hopes to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Fall after graduating with his degree as a liberal arts transfer, but he knows he will sorely miss the people back home if it works out.
“The thing that I’m not too sure of is where my family is going to go after I graduate,” Lucero said. “I want to stay close to them. I know how it is to be away from family. I want to see my siblings grow up.”