Stand Together Week, Harrison, Diego Chara
Photo by Kristel Wissel

Stand Together Week provides unique opportunity for volunteer to meet Diego Chara

The 2014 Stand Together Week event begins next week with volunteer events across Portland along with a few events in Bend. But for some, Stand Together Week is a familiar event that has helped create unique personal bonds and friendships.

Theresa Buchholz first came to a Stand Together Week event after seeing an open call on Facebook. Born without arms, she needed to find an event that she could participate in without the use of hands. Her mother, Sue, helped Theresa look at the Timbers list of open volunteer opportunities and found a painting project at Harrison Park SUN School that just so happened to feature Diego Chara, her favorite player. The Buchholz’ jumped at the opportunity.

“Chara is small and fast and he’s the most interesting player,” said Theresa, age 13.

The event fit perfectly for her, as Theresa had been volunteering her talents as a painter with the Children’s Healing Art Project before the event with the team sprung up. At the school, she was able to speak with Chara and struck up a bit of a friendship with the midfielder from Colombia.

Through a long day of painting, the roller gently but firmly grasped between her toes, Theresa and Chara spoke through a translator. One of the best parts of Stand Together Week is the ability for fans to see players as more than just athletes, and the two got to talk about the world outside of soccer.

“We talked about how long it takes to do his hair,” laughed Theresa. “He’s also really caring about his kids.”

Theresa also got to tell Chara about her pet – a hen named “Charrita” – in honor of the Timbers player. Charrita is small and fast, says Theresa, so the name seemed to fit perfectly for her.

“I wanted to name my chicken after Chara but she’s a girl,” said Theresa. “So I just added the ‘-ita’ to the end of it to make it like a girl’s name.”

Getting to meet her on-pitch hero was a special moment for Theresa, but in a family that values giving back to the community at such a young age, meeting Chara was merely a bonus. Theresa, having just recently graduated eighth grade, strikes an impressive tone and strong personality for someone her age. Those values have been instilled in her from mother Sue.

“I always encourage my kids to do volunteer work,” said Sue. “Stand Together Week was a great opportunity.”

Theresa says she would have gone to the Timbers event even if Chara not been in attendance as volunteerism has become a crucial part of her life. For the Buchholz’, Stand Together Week is not just about helping those around you but planning for the future good of the community as well.

“Think about it in a bigger sense, not just for the people you are there with, but how it will impact the rest of the world,” said Theresa. “The world doesn’t run without volunteers.”

The 2014 edition of Stand Together Week runs June 16-22 with numerous volunteer events still available for sign-up. Join the conversation on social media via hashtag #STWeek.