Oscar is a senior at Stargate School in Thornton. He started and leads the Stargate Mechanics Lab, a program for high school students to learn how to fix cars and donate them to Denver Rescue Mission.
How did the Stargate Mechanics Lab start?
During my freshman year there was an informal car club at Stargate. I joined it to learn from the seniors that were very knowledgeable about cars, and when they left, I decided to revamp it with a completely new program. There were four people at the beginning and now there’s about 20 of us total. We all love working on cars and see the greater purpose in what our work is doing, who it’s impacting and how even just one car a year is still something that contributes to the betterment of society.
What inspired you to donate cars to Denver Rescue Mission specifically?
I’ve always volunteered with my family as a meal server at the Mission. As a meal server downtown, when I’d look guests in the eye, what I saw was emptiness and hopelessness, and it just crushed me inside. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and how something has to change; something has to give these men hope. That’s when I learned about the New Life Program (NLP). So through that, I started this program where I could work on and learn about cars with my peers, and then once we’ve repaired the car, it could hopefully act as a motivator for the people going through the NLP and allow them to find better jobs, better opportunities and truly become a member of society again.
What would you say to encourage other people to use their skills to give back to those in need?
A lot of people have skills, but they don’t think they’ll be able to do enough with them to actually make a difference. I mean one car a year really isn’t that much, but it’s one more car that someone didn’t have. I think people just need to look at the bigger picture and say, ‘What I’m doing might be small, but it’s still important.’
Oscar and part of his team with the next car they will donate to the Mission.