GET TO KNOW: Wilfredo Gonzalez, Accelerate Program Manager

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Each month, we’re going to introduce you to someone from Neighborhood Focus we think you might like to know better! It could be a staff person, a volunteer, a student or parent.

This month, we’d like to introduce you to Wilfredo Gonzalez, our Accelerate Program Manager working with our middle and high school students. Read on to learn more about Wilfredo’s background, hobbies and interests:

Q: What is your primary role at Neighborhood Focus? What are your goals in the program?

A: As Program Manager for our Middle and High School age students, which we call Accelerate, my role is to coordinate the activities that are going to happen on a daily basis and to ensure a working structure of the program .

 My goals are to:

-- inspire the students to dream beyond their current challenges and social status

-- open opportunities for them to reach their education and career goals

-- enrich their lives with Christian discipleship and character education

-- empower the students to have a healthy self esteem and work hard for what they want

Q: Where are you from originally? What degrees do you hold and from what university and/or college? What was your past professional experience?

A: I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I moved to Greenville about three years ago from the island.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology Education form Universidad de Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus in San Juan, and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the Metropolitan University Cupey’s Campus.

For seven years I worked as an Earth Science, Biology and Chemistry High School teacher in the San Juan District of Puerto Rico’s Department of Education. I was part of the School Board for almost three years in San Juan.

In Greenville, I taught English and Spanish for two years at Visions International and was also part of their leadership team.

Q: What is your favorite thing about working at Neighborhood Focus?

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 A: It’s an opportunity to grow in every aspect of my life. But if I am honest, what I truly love is the connections I get to make with the kids. They are each a world of their own. To get to know them, it’s like learning brand new worlds, to be able to guide them and learn from them. I love it! I love my job! 

 Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Greenville?

A: Armando’s Burritos. In Puerto Rico, Mexican food is not as popular as it is here, so I discovered great Mexican food here in Greenville. 

Q: What do you like to do in your down time? What are your hobbies and interests?

 A: In my free time, I enjoy reading books, watching movies (classics and modern ones) and hiking. I also love to visit and explore new places.

Q: What other community groups are you involved in?

 A: I am in involved in numerous community organizations as part of my work with Neighborhood Focus but in my private time I help support the new Spartanburg campus for Grace Church, where I play the piano in their worship team.

Q: Where would you like to travel someday?

 A: New Zealand and Europe.

Q: What is something interesting about you most people don't know?

A: I specialized in music during Middle and High School, where I studied piano. I used to play in a Christian heavy metal band in Puerto Rico.  And I own over 1,500 movies from different time periods. The oldest movie I own is from 1896. 

I also love to study cinematography on my own. Currently, I’m working on a huge project called Wowman that will be a web show about a superhero.

I started to practice Taekwondo two months ago and have already earned a couple designations.

Q: What is your favorite Bible verse that inspires you?

 A: “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 7:24 - 8:1

It helps me in times when I get frustrated about my faults and sins. It reminds me that I’m not perfect and that our growth comes day by day. 

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