At just 28 years old, Bobby Gomez has traveled a long road and learned something valuable from every bump he encountered.
While in elementary school, he’d ride in a church van from his San Antonio barrio to volunteer in the community. He and his friends would pick up trash, paint murals and visit a senior center to sing in a choir and play games with the residents.
“Back then, it didn’t feel like volunteering,” he says, “because I was with all my friends.”
He’d see classmates standing alone during recess and invite them to join games; he’d see people needing help to carry their groceries and rush toward them. Even as a boy, finding ways to support others gave him joy and satisfaction.
Gomez has carried that love for serving people to his current role as Pikes Peak United Way’s community engagement specialist, which he started in January 2021.
He also loves the career path he’s followed because, while at United Way food distributions, he can meet a family in need that reminds him of his upbringing. At other events, he can talk with the CEO of a local organization that’s improving
Even at the boxing gym, working out, he mentors young people to encourage them to contribute to the community.
“Connections are so valuable to me and what I do,” he says. “I’m in touch with everyone and everything in our community and I enjoy that very much.”
Along the way from that Texas barrio to Colorado Springs, Gomez earned an associate degree in mass communications/media studies from Palo Alto College in San Antonio. He became the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree, which was in communications from Texas A&M University.
"Connections are so valuable to me and what I do."
True to his nature, Gomez also spent one year as an AmeriCorps member and about two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA leader. Both governmental programs serve community organizations, but VISTA members volunteer their time with nonprofits working to alleviate poverty.
Gomez said he’s compelled to give his time and expertise to the community, and to pass along what he’s learned throughout his life. He’s even grateful for the tough times and the lessons they taught him.
“All the information that I’ve received throughout my life isn’t just supposed to stay with me,” he says. “It’s my obligation to pass it onto others who may not have the opportunity to hear it from anyone else in their life.”
And Gomez walks the walk, says Elizabeth Quevedo, Pikes Peak United Way’s director of community impact.
“Bobby works tirelessly to bring resources to our nonprofit partners to ensure they can be as effective as possible,” she writes in her nomination letter.
“He brings a unique vision to our team on how to effectively serve traditionally underserved populations in our community. … He leads with heart and dedication to bettering the lives of others,” Quevedo says.
Gomez has advice for other young people on their own journeys through challenging experiences.
“You are on the path that you need to be on in this very moment,” he says. “Everyone has their own timeline, whether that be in school, in your career or life in general. But one thing is for certain, and that’s that the choices you make along the way will always be yours, no matter the circumstances you were raised under.”
Gomez says that all those volunteer activities have made him a better person. He also credits “grown folks” for taking the time to teach him the importance of helping others, the significance of his heritage and the value of being family for those who don’t have one.
“People, friends, families took me in when they didn’t need to,” he says, “and I will forever show them the gratitude that they deserve by offering the same feeling they gave me to every single person I encounter through my volunteer
activities and beyond.”