In Memoriam, Cedric Alvarez

 

Passion for Community Service

Every day that Cedric Alvarez walked the streets of Patate, Ecuador, he saluted everyone he came across. A firefighter and family man, Cedric grew up in the Andean village and through his upbringing and outgoing personality, knew the entire community. We were fortunate to call him a beloved friend and the VISIONS Ecuador Project Manager. This summer, VISIONS and the community of Patate worked together to honor Cedric’s passion for community service.

PASSION

We first met Cedric in 2011, when our program helped build a dormitory addition for the volunteer firehouse. He proved to be instrumental in connecting VISIONS to the heart and soul of the beautiful community of Patate. Cedric crossed language borders and truly befriended VISIONS participants, memorizing their names and the details that make each of them unique.

All the VISIONS participants adored spending time with Cedric. He was friendly, full of laughter, and always lent a hand (usually two) when we needed expert assistance on home base repairs or extra help on construction projects.

“Cedric was one of the most jovial people I have ever known. A day with him never felt like work, because he enjoyed everything he did with VISIONS and the fire department so much,” said Kodee Cloninger, Ecuador & Galapagos Director 2016-2018. She routinely brought Cedric his favorite snack from the states: American Peanut Butter. According to Kodee, Cedric could eat an entire jar of it in one sitting.

“He brought joy and laughter to those of us lucky enough to get to know him. He was so much more than a work partner. He was a friend and confidant. He will be missed more than words can illuminate,” Kodee said.

GRIEF

On June 25th, Cedric was with four of his fellow firemen searching for a drowning victim when their raft flipped over in the Patate River. His four crewmembers were able to swim to safety, but in the particularly fast and turbulent section of river, Cedric was pulled away by the powerful current. He was 33 years old.

On the day of Cedric’s funeral, firefighters came from every corner of Ecuador to honor their comrade. In the procession from the church to the cemetery, over a thousand people shuffled down the main street with flowers in hand accompanied by the Quito firefighter’s band. It was evident how great of an impact he had on his community and family, and we hope his loved ones know that as a friend and role model to VISIONS, Cedric touched the lives of many far and wide.

IMPACT

The VISIONS Ecuador & Galapagos leader team was there in Patate when Cedric passed. With students arriving in less than a week, the leaders found themselves in a challenging position. This year’s Ecuador Director, Charly Blackwood, expressed a deep appreciation for the community and Cedric’s family who stepped forward to honor Cedric’s passion in their time of grief.

Carolina, Cedric’s wife, who worked with VISIONS in 2012-14, offered to help this year’s program in anyway she could. She said that she knew that Cedric would want his work to continue, because it had meant so much to him.
Cedric’s dear friend and fellow firefighter, Luis Miguel “Miguelito” stepped forward and said that he wanted to “seguir adelante” and continue Cedric’s work. Both Carolina and Miguel supported this year’s program and pulled all involved close to their hearts to help the community of Patate heal.

Carolina helped to organize an improvement project at the elementary school, painting and laying cement for the driveway. VISIONS participants painted three classrooms, one of which is Cedric’s daughter’s.

Before Cedric had passed, Miguelito had been helping him plan for a project to replace the cement for an outdoor soccer pitch in a community center of Tahuaicha. The pitch had fallen into disrepair, and the teenagers in the area were less engaged in sports as they had nowhere to play. Cedric and Miguelito recognized the importance of having a shared communal space, especially for young people. This summer, VISIONS participants and Miguelito completed the restoration of that soccer pitch.

Thanks to the community, Cedric’s family and VISIONS leaders and participants all working together, Cedric’s passion for community service lives on.

Thanks to the community, Cedric’s family and VISIONS leaders and participants all working together, Cedric’s passion for community service lives on.

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