Someone to Run to

Dana Samaniego with some of the LIT girls

Dana Samaniego with some of the LIT girls

Written by Dana Samaniego, a Leaders in Training (LIT) volunteer

I find it strange to think there was a time before being at Mission Adelante. There are so many people I’ve met here that have become such a staple part of my life, and I wonder how that happened.

I first came to Mission Adelante in the summer of 2015 because my good friend Olivia Taylor told me that I would fall in love with it. I did!  I think what really drew me in was that I related so much to the kids. My family moved to Olathe, Kansas in 2001 when I was four from a small town in Chihuahua, Mexico. The Latino population of Olathe was rapidly growing at that time, but it was still difficult to find another Spanish-speaker in the area. Learning English was easy because I was young and my brain was flexible; I caught on to American culture quickly. So naturally, I became the translator of all things American to my parents. And it was fun. I felt like an adult because I was using big words in Spanish and English, and I was able to experience going everywhere with my parents.

However, it was also incredibly difficult. If I needed help with my homework, I couldn’t run to ask my parents because they didn’t understand what I was doing in school. If my parents or my younger brother needed to go to the doctor, dentist, or anything of that sort, I always had to be there. Many times it affected my school schedule, so I wasn’t there to learn. I had to work twice as hard in school, and that’s a lot of stress to put on an elementary kid.

I’m very independent now because I had to learn how to do everything on my own. It’s not a bad thing at all, but sometimes I just wish I could have run to someone whenever I had a problem. My younger brothers come to me if they have questions about stuff all the time. I believe that’s such an important part of growing up and that’s part of the reason I decided to mentor the LIT kids.

Many of the LIT kids are translators for their families here in Kansas, and I feel for them because I’ve totally been there. The difference is that when I was growing up, there was no program like this near me, and they do have this opportunity! I’ve gotten to know most of the kids pretty well, and I think of all of them as my younger siblings. I want to see them succeed, and the best part of the program is that they want to succeed. For that to happen they need to have someone to look up to that they connect with. I feel like the LIT staff has done an excellent job at that. It’s great that they have these amazing people to ask for help and learn from!



  • Looking for a practical but important way to make a difference? Our Leaders in Training after-school tutoring program is in need of some healthy, prepackaged snacks.  If you are interested in dropping some off, please email Megan at