Iveth Vasquez cares about all of the members in the 4-H club she sponsors, from the youngest to the oldest.
“To me, all of these kids in Working for Our Dreams 4-H Club are my children,” Vasquez said.
“I care about all of them, even down to the littlest members.”
To recognize past club members who graduated from the classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021, an awards banquet recently was held in their honor.
The event was July 1 at Calvary Baptist Church in Seymour, where Iveth’s husband, Gustavo Vasquez, is a pastor.
Originally from Honduras, Iveth was a medical doctor there for six years before finding a home in Seymour just more than 20 years ago. She and her husband have two daughters, Marcegui and Amelia.
Both of their daughters were members of Working for Our Dreams. Marcegui is a student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and Amelia just graduated from Seymour High School with plans of studying at Purdue University.
Iveth said she will be sad that both daughters will be gone to college but happy they are doing something with their lives, and she knows it’s time to let them fly.
“I started the 4-H club in 2011 with my best friend and big helper, Becky Bujwid,” Vasquez said. “It was the first all Latino 4-H group in the state of Indiana.”
The club was created to support Spanish-speaking youth and their families and has led the way for Juntos 4-H, an after-school program that started at Seymour Middle School earlier this year. That program is led by Heather VonDielingen, Jackson County 4-H youth development educator.
“The original group of Working for Our Dreams is here tonight, and they have been in the club for 10 years,” Vasquez said during the recent banquet. “Now, we have new kids in the club, and we keep growing.”
She said when the 4-H members are in fifth grade, they begin to do community service.
“Our overall goal of the club is teaching them so they can be engaged in the community and serve the community,” Vasquez said. “They are doing that, and I am so proud of all of them.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, so many kids were affected psychologically and emotionally. That was a hard time, but the group kept on going, she said.
At the awards banquet, Bujwid said she and Vasquez both were so happy to be able to gather together with club members and their families to honor the 4-H graduates.
“It has taken awhile, but we are slowly returning to somewhat normalcy and finally able to support and come together in love this evening,” Bujwid said.
She said she was lucky enough to be Vasquez’s friend, and then Vasquez asked her to help with the 4-H club.
“We had no idea what to do, but through help from the Purdue Extension office and their 4-H leaders, we slowly moved forward,” she said. “The response to our group was amazing, and we had kids wanting to join.”
She said they were so happy and thought they would all get through the learning process together as a family.
“Our first fair experience and getting our projects prepared and turned in was frightening,” Bujwid said. “We had no idea what to expect and called on all the people we could find who had 4-H project experience to help us.”
When their first fair experience was over, Bujwid said they breathed a sigh of relief that they had done it and gotten through it together as a family.
“That year, we had at least one project that made it to the state fair, and that was 10 years ago,” she said. “We continue to have anxiety every year at fair time and hope all the projects are done on time and correctly.”
Bujwid and Vasquez continue to work with their 4-H members on their projects the night before and even the morning they are due.
“That is just part of the 4-H life, and we love it,” Bujwid said.
Club members from the Class of 2019 recognized during the banquet were Alejandro Sachinas, Marcequi Vasquez, Yesenia Varela and Wendoline Zarate.
Members who graduated in 2020 were Austin Clemente and Maria Viveros, and the 2021 graduates included Amelia Vasquez, Ewan Hernandez, Jimena Leal, Jocelyn Soto, Kim Clemente and Roman Ramirez.
Among the Class of 2021 4-H club graduates were four 4-H Scholarship recipients: Amelia Vasquez, $500, Kim Clemente, $500, Ramirez, $500, and Soto, $1,000.
Iveth said the 4-H club honorees from all three graduating classes are either already in college or are planning to go.
Ramirez said he plans to study finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and will know at least one person there because Hernandez is enrolled to study biology.
Ramirez has been in 4-H for eight years and Hernandez for five years. Both boys said they will miss their 4-H group when they go to college.
Clemente said she was super excited when she found out she was one of the scholarship recipients. She plans to major in biology at IUPUI.
“It felt really nice when I got the news because I knew there was a large pool of applicants,” she said.
Bujwid acknowledged the graduates and told them as they go out into the world, she hopes their 4-H experiences helped to better prepare them for the future.
“I hope that you learned to set goals and work toward accomplishing them, that you pace yourself and not wait until the last minute, that you make good choices and choose to give back to your community,” she added.
She encouraged them to go the extra mile, reach for the stars and don’t be satisfied with good enough.
“Look outside the box and be a rule breaker,” Bujwid said. “We are so proud of you and know your future will be amazing.”