For many, few hobbies are as rewarding as volunteering. For Stephanie Mixco, it isn't just a pastime - it's an essential part of her life's fabric.
"Volunteering keeps me up and going. It's where I meet new people, extend a helping hand and find comfort in being part of a family."
Stephanie started volunteering in her teens and first became involved with the Wasco Community Volunteer Coalition with leader Camilo Vasquez.
She said of the experience, "It was incredible. I loved organizing the events and seeing people enjoy them throughout the years. Especially the kids when we would do coloring or face painting. Watching the kids run around and get their toys was the best."
Also, as a teenager, she volunteered for the former Wasco Downtown Association.
"That organization was run by my aunt, Tania Cordova. She taught me a lot about how to contact the vendors, network with other organizations, be a leader, be a public speaker, be respectful, work as a team and more importantly, how to multitask."
"It was a great experience again putting on events for the people of Wasco. We hosted the Dia de los Muertos and the Christmas Parade."
She leveraged those skills that she developed and brought that knowledge to her next volunteer position, which was with the Orange Heart Foundation, where she worked closely with one of the founders, Orquidea Ocampo, taking on the role as her right-hand assistant, carrying out a myriad of tasks.
"Everything from organizing baseball and basketball games to making and selling food.
"Some of my favorite OHF projects were helping with the father-daughter dances, the music festival and the Wine and Roses event."
While part of the OHF, she also lent a hand with the basketball organization, 2nd to None, with Eddie Velasquez. "I was a scorekeeper for the basketball games, keeping track of the points and helping them clean up."
Then covid hit, and she took a break, but in 2022-23, she returned and joined the Wasco Rose Festival committee.
"I became the vendor coordinator and a member of the board. In this capacity, I took a higher role on the committee, spearheading the recruitment of vendors and taking on a bigger leadership role."
For her contribution, she received a key to the city pin presented by then-Mayor Gilberto Reyna, recognizing her for her volunteerism and for playing a crucial part in organizing the event as part of the committee.
"I felt honored and happy to receive a pin that symbolizes the effort I have put in to better my community and help make Wasco the special place it is."
Orquidea Ocampo said, "Stefanie Mixco has made a big difference in the Wasco community through her hard work and dedication to the Orange Heart Foundation and Wasco Rose Festival. Her commitment has given hope and support to those in need, and she's a great example of how volunteering can make a real impact in our small town of Wasco."
Another Wasco Rose Festival team member who has worked closely with Stephanie, Sharon Sharp, said, "Stephanie is the epitome of selfless volunteerism. She doesn't do it for glory or praise, but truly loves serving this community. Seeing her grow from a student volunteer to a true leader has been inspiring. She does it all with a servant's heart and positive attitude."