When Annunciation School holds Bingo night or a health fair, Mrs. Garcia is there. When the school is raising funds through its Chocolate Candy Drive, Mrs. Garcia is there organizing the effort. When students need help learning English, Mrs. Garcia is there to tutor them.
Adela Garcia, a New Mexico-native, has spent 46 years being present at Annunciation School volunteering her time and working as a secretary, ready to take on any task.
“She loved the school. She loved the children,” said principal Debra Roberts.
The 83-year-old wife, mother and longtime fixture of the grade school retired early this month.
She began volunteering at the school when her three sons— Dominick, Charles and Garry—attended the school.
She started answering phones and did clerical work when then-principal Sister Mary Loretta Beier, S.C.L., asked her to become staff.
“I started volunteering and they finally put me on the payroll,” Garcia said, and added with a laugh, “They probably felt sorry for me.”
She eventually worked as a special assistant to the subsequent principals including Sister LaVonne Guidoni, also of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, who later co-founded Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust.
Garcia later took on bookkeeping for the school lunch program and become a liaison. She became involved with the school’s multiple fundraisers including school dances, health fairs, carnivals, Bingo nights, bazaars and the popular Chocolate Candy Drive.
“She has run our candy sales for about 40 years,” Roberts said. “She’d make a call and say, ‘I need your money.’ And no one messed with Mrs. Garcia.”
The school’s majority of Spanish-speaking students benefited from Garcia’s English tutoring. On a daily basis she would tutor children from all grades.
“I’m bilingual so that’s helped a lot,” she said. “I usually say that I’m a jack-of-all-trades. You name it and I’ve done it.”
Her son, Dominick Garcia, wrote that Garcia “made a difference with her involvement with the many students who passed through the doors of Annunciation Grade School. She had a relentless passion and joy in doing her job.”
Garcia enjoyed much about the job.
“I love the tradition and the kids are something else,” she said. “You just see them trying to learn and grow up and before you know it they’re already in junior high and left the school.”
She’s witnessed three generations of families attend the school—something Garcia has enjoyed, she said.
“The thing I will miss will be the kids—just seeing them grow from one school year to another.”
Now Garcia said she is enjoying her time at home. She refused to have a retirement party but said she’ll still come by the school to visit.
“I think a lot of people would say, ‘Gee, it’s about time you retired,’” Garcia said. “I will go down and visit them.”