Cindy Maciel – Unlimited Energy & Dedication | SierraSun.com

Cindy Maciel – Unlimited Energy & Dedication

by Wendy Lautner

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Motivator. An inspiration. Dedicated. Heartfelt, “a champion for the girls” and “part of the fabric of the community” are just a few ways people who know Cindy Maciel describe her.Maciel, a resident of Truckee for 10 years, has worn many hats in the community. Shes volunteered to read and sing songs at Toddler Time and Pajama Story Time at the childrens library, served on the board of Truckee Family Connection, helped found Kidzone Museum, is involved with Tahoe Truckee Perinatal Outreach Team (TPOT) and serves on the board for InnerRhythms dance center. Youll even find her wearing her infamous hula skirt behind home plate in the Truckee Summer Softball A League.But in addition to all of that, Maciel is no doubt best known as the mother of her 10-year-old daughter Sammi and for her work as the program director for STEPP, Sierra Teen Education and Parenting Program.STEPP first got off the ground in 1998 and has since helped 30 teen mothers graduate from high school, while learning imperative parenting skills along the way.STEPP provides young mothers, or mothers-to-be, with child care while they complete their academic studies in high school as well as two hours of additional instruction in life skills for new mothers after school.These life skills include everything from pre-natal medical care, birth control, post-natal care, child development instruction, nutrition, play time, reading to young children, music, games and more.”These girls can finish high school with babies and now theyre holding better jobs or theyre in college and their second pregnancy rates are down,” Maciel says.Maciel takes pride in her work and constantly encourages her students to do the same.”I tell them that if grandma wants to take care of the baby, thats fine, but they need to be in school. I tell them, you need to better yourself and stick with it, if not before, now you really have to because you got a baby,” she says.Maciel takes attendance very seriously, and has even been known to drive to students homes, in Truckee or Kings Beach, and pull them out of bed if they miss the STEPP bus (complete with car seats for their children) and insist on sleeping in on a school day.”She doesnt really let anyone slide,” says former student and current STEPP staffer Malissa Cruz. “The girls know that she doesnt take no for an answer and she makes sure they come to school. Shes very understanding and patient, but when it comes to attendance, she makes sure the girls are there.” Cruz graduated in 2000 after becoming pregnant during her senior year and has since went to work for STEPP while attending classes at Sierra College.”When I first met Cindy, I immediately thought this lady is great and she is. She can totally relate to the girls even though she hasnt been a teen mother herself, she is just so compassionate for the job that she does.”With a background in child development, Maciel was the center director at a preschool in Walnut Creek before she and her husband moved to Truckee to be closer to her parents just a few months after Sammi was born. “When I first moved up here I didnt know a single soul but my parents and I hated it,” she says. “I so wanted to live up here and once I did I hated it. I didnt know anybody.” But that didnt take long to change for Maciel, who soon found herself immersed in the community through participation in Toddler Time at the childrens library and later through a visit to the Glenshire Craft Fair.”It was a Saturday and I decided to take Sammi down (to the fair) just to get out of the house,” she says. “Well, there I met Katy Stevens, who asked about my baby, and told me that I should meet Suzie Simonpietri because they were starting this parenting club.”Before she knew it, Maciel was an integral part of the Truckee Family Connection, booking guest speakers for monthly meetings and scheduling the very popular Moms Night Out.”It was incredible,” she says with emphasis on incredible. “I met lots of people. If you have time to give and you want to give your time, people will take you up on it. Thats what I love about it here. Even though infrastructure is growing, you still can get involved.”As Maciel became more comfortable in the community, her involvement continued to grow when in the summer of 1998, friends Ruth Hall and Gail Tondetter informed her they had written a grant for the school district to get a school pregnancy education and parenting program and suggested that she apply for the job.”I got the job and was handed a grant package and an empty portable in the Sierra High School parking lot,” Maciel recalls.She hired Karen Schlocker to be her assistant and the pair spent the first part of the year wondering what they were doing.”The girls really tested us,” Maciel recalls. But thats when she came up with a mantra Things worth doing will happen. “I dont know if anyone said it before me, but I feel like its my quote,” she says. “I wrote it on a piece of paper and hung it above my desk. Because this was a thing worth doing, it served a great need.”Eight years later, Maciel and countless others in the community are sure that STEPP is worth doing for the positive effects it has had on young mothers and their children.”There have been wonderful results of the women that have come through that program,” said Ruth Hall, Truckee School Readiness Coordinator. “Cindy has a special ability to connect with girls that age and to be there for them. She just feels it.”Maciels determination, vision and compassion seeps into more than just her job. She lists being her daughters mother as her number one priority and relishes any opportunity for community service, including taking her “city-boy” nephews to volunteer at the Tahoe City Wildlife Center.”Her energy is limitless,” says Laurie Martin Director of Youth and Community Development. “Many of these students would not even come back to high school let alone graduate if it were not for Cindys advocacy and determination. But theres more to it than that. Shes really stepped up in this community to continue positive change by running for the Tahoe Donner Board. Thats a sign of a true Tahoe local, its one way we can really give back.”Maciel wholeheartedly agrees. “Theres more I need to do here,” she says. “Theres so much still out there that I want to do, what it is, I dont know yet. I love living here. I love Truckee and Im happy to raise my child here.”