2007 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

William F. (Bill) Porter

Wyandotte High School, 1969William F. (Bill) Porter

Growing up in a community filled with diversity has positively influenced Bill Porter's life. It helped formulate his passion to serve others equally.

As a partner in ownership with Porter Funeral Homes and Crematory, Porter has helped families in the metropolitan area get through some of the most difficult times of their lives. When he's not working in the family business, he spends countless hours serving the community of Kansas City, Kansas.

He is on the board of directors for Hospice of Kansas City, a member and past president of the Rotary Club of KCK, past president of the YMCA and Cancer Action, and on the board of trustees for Trinity Methodist Church. He also is active in the Mission Project, an organization that teaches independent living skills to adults who have disabilities. He uses his professional expertise to give talks on the subject of grief and death at churches and schools. For his distinguished service to the community, the YMCA named him "Man of the Year" in 1989.

Growing up in the KCK Public Schools, Porter remembers being challenged by the high expectations of his teachers. They were constantly encouraging him to live up to his potential, and today he is grateful. They gave him reasons to believe in himself.

Being a child in the 1960s was somewhat difficult, Porter recalls. Some of the country's greatest leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy, were assassinated. The country was speaking out against the Vietnam War. There were race riots.

"It was an interesting time. We were all just trying to figure out who we were, and what we were," Porter said.

His advice for today's students is "learn about one another. Embrace each other's differences. And take on the tough tasks because it makes you stronger."

 

2007 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Tom A. Valverde

Argentine High School, 1971

Tom A. ValverdeTom Valverde has always set high expectations for himself. This mindset has led him to achieve a number of successes throughout his life. Valverde is a department manager for Hall's. His dedication and strong work ethic has resulted in a 30-year career with this store which is a division of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Valverde also has another job that he is passionate about. He is past president of the Hispanic AIDS Coalition of Greater Kansas City. He has spent more than two decades as an advocate voicing his concern for the Latino community in Kansas City and throughout the nation. He has been recognized with many awards for this work, including the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Award presented to him in Washington, D.C.

Valverde said he lost many close friends to AIDS in the 1980s and he was inspired to become involved in the cause on their behalf.

"I wanted to be a voice of advocacy for them – for the people who had passed and for those who live with the disease," he said.

Valverde is a volunteer for El Centro and the Children's Museum of KC. He is proud of his Hispanic heritage and in 1979, helped establish a scholarship program for youth through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves on the Wyandotte County Library Board and Healthy Living Projects Board.

It was Valverde's high school French teacher, Rebecca Hays, who gave him reasons to believe in himself while growing up. An accident left Valverde with epilepsy and coping with the disorder was not easy. He was unsure about his future, especially college. But through Hays' support, he persevered. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in linguistics in 1976.

Valverde's advice for today's students is "find a passion and stick with it. Don't let small personal failures deter you from your goals."

 

2007 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Michelle Hayes Robinson

Rosedale Junior/Senior High School, 1973Michelle Hayes Robinson

Being fair, open and honest has contributed to Michelle Robinson's prosperous career. She says her word is her bond, and anyone who has worked with her knows it's true.

For the past 21 years, Robinson has served as a supplier diversity manager for major corporations in the Kansas City area. Most recently, she spent seven years at Sprint, structuring their supplier diversity program, which focuses on developing strategies to ensure that companies managed and owned by minorities, women and the service disabled veterans have an opportunity to bid on contracts with the corporation. She said she gains a great deal of satisfaction knowing that she has helped up-and-coming businesses to succeed by providing them with opportunities to compete.

Growing up in a diverse school like Rosedale Junior/Senior High helped her to appreciate diversity around her, and that has contributed to her current success. Having great African-American administrators and teachers gave her reasons to believe in herself, and her future.

A 2005 story in Minority Business News USA identified Robinson as a leader in diversity initiatives. In 1998, she received the Golden Eagle Award from the National Eagle Leadership Institute. Through her job, she is a member of the Mid-America Minority Business Development Council and a former member of the Black Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Asian Chamber of Commerce. She has visited with students in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools many times over the years, focusing on career opportunities and what it takes to be successful.

She wants today's students to follow their own dreams and not live someone else's. She also wants them to stay focused on learning.

"Learning is a lifelong process, but it's not just limited to the classroom," Robinson said. "Life is one great big classroom if you are open to it."

 

2007 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Teresa Valverde Pacheco

Argentine High School, 1971Teresa Valverde Pacheco

Teresa Pacheco still remembers the words of her Emerson Elementary School principal Gwendolyn Daniel. "When you do good things in life, good things will happen." This advice guides her each day.

Pacheco spends most of her free time doing "good things" for the community of Kansas City, Kansas. She serves on the boards of countless community organizations including El Centro, the Children's Museum of Greater KC, United Way of Wyandotte County, American Red Cross of Wyandotte County and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among others. And the rewards for her good work have been many. In 1991, she received the Community Service Award from MANA, and the Outstanding Women of Colour Award from the Women of Colour Coalition. She has been honored with the Carlos F. Cortez Humanitarian Award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Ana Riojas Leadership Award from the Midwest Latina Conference. She is the recipient of the 2007 YWCA of Greater KC Hearts of Gold award.

Since 1987, Pacheco has worked as a prevailing wage/real estate specialist for the Kansas City, Missouri School District. She said her mother influenced her to be the "best" at everything she tried and emphasized to her the importance of serving her community. The support of her husband Captain Carlos Pacheco and her two boys, Carlos III and Alejandro, and her family, give her reasons to believe in herself every day.

As a student in the KCK Public Schools, Pacheco said she was positively impacted by each of her teachers in some way. Having the support of her twin brother, Tom, made her feel that she was never alone in her educational journey.

She believes that today's students need to become active in their communities and church by volunteering.

"The role you take and the decisions you make can positively impact your community," she said.

 

2007 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Marvin Diehl

Wyandotte High School, 1954Marvin Diehl

Marvin Diehl has left his mark on Kansas City, Kansas, both literally and figuratively. Examples of his craftsmanship, ingrained with his compassion, can be seen in many neighborhoods throughout the city.

The combination contractor/engineer has spent his life on community projects to help families and to beautify the city. From laying brick sidewalks to building porches, each project has been a labor of love.

The gazebo, benches and planters at Holy Family Park are his handiwork, as well as the old-fashioned lights. He is responsible for similar work at St. John's Park, and at the Strawberry Hill World War II Garden. He has worked for the Unified Government, the Board of Community Housing, and for residents in need on a volunteer basis.

"It's time to give back to the community that helped raise me. That's why I do it," he said.

Though carpentry and remodeling are his passion, it is not how Diehl spent his career. He worked for 35 years as a network services supervisor/telephone equipment engineer for Southwestern Bell. Then he spent 11 years as a contract engineer for Sprint before retiring. All the while, he kept his hands in building and remodeling projects. In fact, he has built a total of 10 houses in KCK over the years.

Growing up in a family of eight children, Diehl said he learned at an early age that if you want something, you have to work for it. And though he is thankful for his career in the telephone industry, his true passion has always been carpentry work. He was introduced to these skills during his woodworking and metal working classes at Wyandotte High School.

He wants today's students to learn as much as they can, and to become responsible individuals.

"One of the hardest things in life is taking on responsibility," he said. "But it's one of the best things you can do."