playground aide Georgina Bernal goes beyond the call of duty to help others in the community.
This past January, the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and recognized Bernal for her outstanding service.
"She just takes over. I love that about her," said Martha Moncada, Community Liaison at Monroe Elementary. "Families love her so much. She doesn’t know how much. She gets things done."
In addition to working as a playground aide at Monroe, Bernal volunteers as a helper in kindergarten classes, where she can utilize her Spanish language skills. If a Spanish-speaking parent or student needs help with translation, she lends her assistance outside of the classroom.
"I guess a lot of parents feel comfortable with me," Bernal said. "I like working with kids and keeping busy."
In the past, Bernal has worked as a teacher's aide. She also drove a school bus for other school districts.
"I always worked with the schools. I volunteered until I got my foot in the door. I even attended this school. I grew up here," she said. "There's a few of us working in the school. It's like we never left school."
Bernal is a mother of four, and she said that her youngest will graduate from Monroe this year. When school lets out at 2 p.m., Bernal goes home to take care of her family. She also watches other children until about 5 p.m."
"Most of the parents are single moms, so they really can't afford daycare, she said. "They ask Ms. Moncada. She’ll see if I can take them. If not, we find someone."
Moncada said that Bernal has also helped low-income families obtain food or clothing that their children can wear to school.
"She is an invisible Santa Claus," said Martha Moncada.
Bernal said that she enjoys bargain hunting, and that she recently helped a student obtain 20-dollar shoes for 12 dollars.
"I can help. I can find some good bargains with coupons and everything," she said.
Bernal has been the school’s yearbook editor for the past four years, and she chairs an event at the end of the school year called "The Fiesta."
"Last year’s theme was 'Cinco de Mayo.' This year’s theme is ‘Old Fashioned Country Time.’ We have games, cake walks, all that stuff," she said. "We welcome everyone from the community. It is a family thing."
"It’s become a big event. We have anywhere between 500 and 800 people show up. It looks like a huge carnival when people drive by," she added.
Bernal said that she does what she does because she finds helping others to be extremely fulfilling.
"People say I’m quiet but I have a big heart, and it’s true. It feels like this is family," she said.