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CURRENT ISSUE:  March 5, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Messages of hope, healing
follow attack on church

Lenten tradition
Saving girls, one handmade
dress at a time
FACE, families partner
to help educate children
The Martin family back row, Carlos, Zolayma, Carlos, Litzia and Julissa, with
Karyme in front are among the faces of FACE Family Aid Catholic Education.

For Litzia Martin, being a FACE recipient meant "knowing people were aware I was trying hard." The freshman at Saint Mary's College of California credits FACE Family Aid Catholic Education with helping her parents provide her with the gift of a Catholic education.

"We believe it is the best education for our kids," said Zolayma Martin, the mother of four children one in college, one in high school and two in elementary school. "There's no better place they can be."

But without the help of FACE, Martin said, Catholic education would be beyond the family's reach. She works as an administrative assistant at a community college during the day; her husband's workday as a custodian begins an hour after hers ends.

Litzia, now 18, has made her family proud. The graduate of Salesian High School in Richmond entered Saint Mary's with honors.

Her parents hope she will be followed to college by her siblings, Julissa, a freshman at Salesian; Carlos, a fourth-grader at St. Paul School in San Pablo, and little sister Karyme, a kindergartner at St. Paul.

After Litzia spends the weekend at home, the whole family brings her back to the Moraga campus. The Martins attend Mass together at Saint Mary's College Chapel, where it is an honor to, as a family, bring up the gifts.

It's an example of the commitment to family time that the Martins have made. Zolayma Martin came to the United States from Nicaragua when she was 16. She graduated from Richmond High School, and went to business school. College was beyond her family's financial reach.

FACE Facts

260 elementary school students receive $1,750

279 high school students receive $3,050

On the waiting list: 1,500 qualified students
The Martins, who met at church, have worked to put college within the grasp of their four children. FACE has been their partner in educating their children for the past 10 years.

To assist the Martins and others like them, FACE will hold its biggest fundraiser of the year on March 17. Organizers hope "the sharing of the green" will help support the more than 500 children currently receiving assistance, but also move some of the more than 1,500 qualified students off the waiting list.

Entertainment will be provided by the McBride School of Irish Dance, and the Bishop O'Dowd Jazz Combo. The night's host will be Bob Sarlatte, the San Francisco comedian who has often been a guest on David Letterman's television program. During the dinner, guests will hear success stories from FACE recipients. Auctions, including a trip to Ireland, are planned, as well as silent auctions.

"Without the help, we wouldn't be able to send our kids to Catholic school," Zolayma said. "We hope every year," she said, of the wait to hear that funds will be available for the family.

The FACE grants $1,750 for elementary school students, $3,050 for high school students provide a portion of the student's tuition. For the Martins, coming up with the rest means they sacrifice. Vacations are not on the family's calendar but, said the mother, picnics in the park, and family time, are.

"With the help of organizations like FACE," said Zolayma Martin, "we always have hope."

That hope is mirrored in Litzia. With a passion for math, she tells her mother "I'm going to go as far as I can go." With the goal of becoming a teacher, that includes a doctoral degree.

"If you want it," her mother tells her, "you can do it."

Litzia, in turn, loves helping her siblings. "I love helping them with homework," she said. "They enjoy learning."

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