ABC7 News Star: Katia Gomez, Educate2Envision International

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's the season for giving, but a Bay Area woman pays it forward all year long. She's a star in our community and in Central America.

A coffee house in San Leandro, where the electricity and Internet is free, is probably the last place you'd expect to find the headquarters of an international non-profit. But, who needs fancy digs?

When we met Katia Gomez she said, "Do you want to spend $20,000 on an office or $20,000 to get 300 kids into high school?"

There's your rhetorical answer. Gomez is executive director of Educate2Envision International.

She went to Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward. Students there correspond often via video chats and letters with high school students in Honduras. The fact that kids in that country attend high school at all is due entirely to Gomez and her non-profit.

"We create access to high school for the very first time in rural villages," Gomez explained.

The basic donation is $62 to educate one child for one year of high school in Honduras. It doesn't sound like much, but what a difference it makes.

"When you think about a country that is one of the poorest in the entire Western Hemisphere, you think about why that is, and the majority of the reason is young people don't have access to education. So how are they going to have the tools to get themselves out of poverty, without being able to further themselves?" Gomez said.

It is a lesson Gomez learned first-hand as the child of a single mother.

Maybe Gomez got her stubborn drive in the experience of nearly dying in the delivery room. She excelled in school later on, earned scholarships and discovered this calling during a college summer she spent in Honduras. The conditions, there, changed her life.

Gomez explained, "What I did in my mind was a role reversal [thinking] how easy it could have been that I was a kid born out in that village."

Since she returned home and formed her non-profit from scratch, Educate2Envision has now built six high schools with 120 graduates. They, in turn, have started kindergartens, taught adults to read and write, and have taken dead-aim at measures to stop the cycle of poverty in rural Honduras.

"You don't have to be rich to pay it forward. You don't have to be rich to be a philanthropist or humanitarian. You just need an idea and the drive to help your community," Gomez said.

All that wisdom is coming from a 28-year-old, at her world headquarters, in the coffee house.

We want to thank one of our viewers for letting us know about Gomez. If you know someone who is doing something extraordinary in your community, please tell us about it. Click here to nominate a star where you live.

If you would like to learn more about or donate to Educate2Envision International click here.
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