Courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley
If you have ever met Joe Moralez, you would know that he is a quiet, compassionate, humble man. He is not someone who seeks out recognition or awards. He’s a man of high character with a strong sense of country and community. For those that are a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters, many may have met him at a Big’s Night Out or other fundraising event. Others might have met Joe and his Little Brother Rodolfo at one of the many match activities they attend together.Joe became connected with Big Brothers Big Sisters five years ago as part of our effort to grow our middle school mentoring program. He attended an informational session hosted by one of our partner organizations- the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Together BBBS and LULAC are reaching out to adults of Hispanic heritage to educate them about our mentoring model and to share the need in our community for their engagement.
Joe was matched with Rodolfo in our community-based mentoring program in 2012 and participated in our Career Navigator enhancements. Joe and Rodolfo, a first generation American share a strong connect on to their Latino heritage. Joe and Rodolfo would attend numerous workplace and higher education events. Joe would often share with us how important these visits were in helping him grow his relationship with Rodolfo. The drives to and from the events were opportunities to get to know each other, to share what was going on in each others lives, and to talk about common interests. Once they arrived at the event, Joe would share past experiences with Rodolfo and turn the discussion to his future goals and aspirations. Over time, the relationship grew more committed, and the two families even become close. Both families would often attend the annual BBBS picnic together and many other events throughout the year.
On April 10, 2016, Joe was presented the Excellence in Mentoring Award by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. The annual award is presented to four Iowa residents who exemplify the spirit of mentoring. The act of singling out a child in the community and through on-going support and advocacy help that child achieve academic and social success. Sarah Walker, Senior Director of Enrollment and Community Partnerships first enrolled and matched Joe back in 2012. Sarah was given the honor of introducing Joe during the award presentation.
The Excellence in Mentoring Award is the State of Iowa’s highest honor in mentoring. Established by the Iowa Commission on Volunteerism, the Award is intended to use powerful personal stories to inspire others to become engaged in mentoring. It was that end goal (inspiring others), that lead Joe to agree to be honored in this way.
His story is one of a humble man, providing ongoing support and encouragement to a young man in need of support and direction. A quiet local hero no-one would ever know, if not for this award and his willingness to share his story.
Joe is the lead instructor the ROTC program at Davenport Central High School. Previously, Joe served over 30 years in the United States Army, traveling the world and serving our country. The father of eight is the model of commitment and integrity. He is also a strong leader, inspiring others to be the best that they can be.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is honored to recognize Joe for his service to Rodolfo and to our community. BBBS also wishes to recognize Rodolfo for the outstanding milestones he has achieved over the past four years. Rodolfo is currently in high school, with great grades, with involvement in a number of clubs and organizations, and a true leader amongst his peers. Rodolfo is learning the character and values that are needed to be a strong leader and successful. He has the best role model one could ask for- Joe Moralez!
Photos by Tar Macias