Hacienda News

A Former Intern Makes a Big Impact for Hacienda

October 06, 2021

How a young athlete got national recognition and $10,000 for Hacienda

Mateo Althouse grew up in Tennessee and traveled every week to Dalton, Georgia, where he played in a soccer team. It was a small immigrant community of mostly Latino families. His parents worked hard for him to have what he needed. It was only years later, as a mentor, that he would understand how much need there was in his community and still is in immigrant communities across the country.

Mateo’s family eventually moved to Oregon, where he spent the summer of his sophomore year interning at Hacienda. He enjoyed working as an After School Coordinator at Villa de Mariposas, a Hacienda community. “When I interned at Hacienda,” says Mateo, “It reminded me a lot of Dalton, the kids and everything.”

At another Hacienda community, Plaza Los Robles in Molalla, a soccer team like Mateo’s has been practicing every weekend since August. Bianca Delgado-Mendoza, Resident Services Coordinator (and occasionally, assistant coach) explained that the team started with three players and a volunteer coach. Hacienda purchased soccer balls and other equipment to support the team, and it has now grown to thirteen boys and two girls.

“For our community, the impact more than anything has been to bring the kids together,” says Bianca. “Before, there was bickering and even bullying, and now with program, the children follow rules like being respectful to others and finishing their homework in order to be able to be on the team. Even parents come together, they take turns bringing snacks and doing things for the team. And kids love it, it definitely has brought a sense of community.”

Mateo moved from soccer to track and field, and sports gave him structure. Earlier this year, Mateo’s hard work earned him the distinction of becoming Gatorade’s 2021 Track and Field Player of the Year in Oregon.

The Gatorade Player of the Year is an athletic award program that annually recognizes student-athletes not only for athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character. Winners chose a local or national youth sport organization to receive a $1,000 grant from Gatorade; Mateo chose Hacienda. Mateo then had the opportunity to submit a video explaining why Hacienda deserved to be selected for one of twelve Spotlight Grants. Mateo took on that challenge. Thanks to his advocacy, Hacienda was selected to receive a Spotlight grant of $10,000 from Gatorade. These funds will be dedicated to the soccer program in Plaza de Robles, Molalla.

“When the Gatorade opportunity arose, I thought it was a very cool thing to do because I always want to be cognizant of the opportunities that are presented to me and remember there is a world outside of whatever I do and to try and stay connected to that. This was an opportunity for me to do that, so I was pretty grateful…”

“I think Gatorade is a great organization to be doing that. Because sport is a great pastime and everybody enjoys it to a certain degree, but there are larger implications, and there is a lot of money and power that could be distributed to places that could really use it.”

The team in Plaza Los Robles voted and agreed on the name of Lobitos. Uniforms are in the works, and matches are being scheduled. And regardless of the scoreboard, you can be sure that every child participating is already a winner.

Thank you, Mateo for being our champion, and good luck at Georgetown University!

Listen to Mateo in his own words.