'Abuelita' honored for years of volunteerism at Pharr Elementary

Amada Valdez, Aka 'Abuelita'

Amada Valdez is quite possibly the most popular person at Pharr Elementary School.

She's an inspiration to everybody," said Mary Quintanilla, computer lab manager. With an infectious smile and her uncanny ability to spread joy with just a warm embrace, Mrs. Valdez has become "The Matriarch" at the school. She TMs our grandmom, said Mary. Aka ~Abuelita TM| Mrs. Valdez we adore her... We love her."

For the last several years, "Abuelita" has redefined what it means to be a school volunteer working 8 hour days, 5 days a week.

Mary says she does everything from mentoring students to working the front desk.

To do the kind of work that she does out of her heart as a volunteer here at school| It's beyond my imagination," she said.

But it's her unwavering support for staff, and her unparalleled passion for kids, that Mary truly wants to recognize with Mrs. Valdez.

I want to Pay it 4Ward because she deserves everything," said Mary.

Pronto Insurance has the Pay it 4Ward prize.

"Everybody loves their grandmother, said Domingo Reyna with Pronto Insurance. Mrs. Valdez sounds like a beautiful person. On behalf of Pronto Insurance and Action 4 News, here TMs $400 to Pay it 4Ward.

Abuelita is surprised while working at the front of school Thursday afternoon.

It doesn't take long to experience first-hand why people are so drawn to the 80-something-year-old volunteer.

Ryan: Mrs. Valdez, I hear you're such an amazing person!

Abuelita: And also fun! Mary: We TMre thankful for all that you do for us...Without complaining; you're always here for us... We love you a lot! Hold your hand out like this... On behalf of Action 4 News and Pronto Insurance, I want to Pay it 4Ward to you... $100, $200, $300, $400.

Abuelita: I don't know how to thank you for this... I don't know what I did to deserve this... I come here to work regardless... I do everything out of my heart."

She says it's not about the money, and it never has been.

Abuelita: I can't be without seeing my children around... I need them... They give me life. Her granddaughter, Karim Valdez, can attest to the power of her volunteerism.

Karim: She was very sick all the time, and then she came here and it TMs like she revived again! It's just happiness...I know that this means the world to her.

Ryan: Paying it 4Ward is just a small way of saying you're everyone's grandmother!"

Abuelita: I like that a lot because I have a lot of grandchildren. The children here are like my grandchildren... All of them call me grandmother.

Helping people feel like family is one more way to Pay it 4Ward.

Click here to nominate someone for Pay it 4Ward

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