Meet Jorge de Paz, a 4th grader at PALCS who enjoys giving back and helping others. Jorge was born in Philadelphia, but now resides with his parents, and two brothers Ruben (age 5), and Ivan (age 3) in West Chester, PA.

This past January, Jorge was given an assignment by his teacher, Mr. Cooper, to plan a project where he could give back to society,” Stephanie, Jorge’s mom tells us. “He was excited about this assignment and wanted to make sure it was something that he could plan and put into action immediately. When Jorge’s father was working toward his Master’s degree at West Chester University a few years ago, he conducted a research survey at Safe Harbor. Jorge remembered this place, and decided that this was the place he wanted to help out.”

Safe Harbor is a non-profit charitable organization whose mission is to provide housing, food and access to support services in a structured environment for homeless men and women in Chester County.

“When we contacted Safe Harbor, they gave us a list of items that they especially needed.” Jorge had a goal to collect as many of those specific items as possible. In an attempt to help collect donations for Jorge’s project, PALCS Receptionist, Ms. Gianna Rodkey asked PALCS teachers and staff to bring in and donate items off of Jorge’s list. The de Paz family estimates that about 4 full grocery store shopping carts of items were collected!

“Ms. Gianna Rodkey was a welcoming face and so very friendly the moment we met her at the beginning of the school year. She has continuously recognized and assisted Jorge in his efforts to give back,” Stephanie tells us. “Mr. Cooper has also been very supportive for Jorge throughout the school year. His assistance with the Safe Harbor Supply Drive was not only helpful, but also a great encouragement to Jorge.”

Jorge tells us that he got his passion for donating and helping others from his parents. “My parents taught me to care and speak for those who can’t care and speak for themselves.” Not only has Jorge given back to the community by collecting donations, he also has been growing his hair out to donate it to cancer patients! “When Jorge was around 5 or 6 years old, he saw a commercial on TV about a girl who had cancer and lost all of her hair while going through treatment. This made Jorge feel really sad and he expressed to us that he really wished he could help. When he learned that there are organizations who collect hair in order to make wigs for cancer patients, he decided that this would be something he would like to do some day,” Stephanie tells us.

Jorge first donated his hair shortly after turning 7 years old, and will soon be donating his hair, again, for the 2nd time. Ms. Rodkey has made a promise to Jorge, for every inch he donates, she will give him five dollars. Stephanie has explained that even though Jorge already loves donating, Gianna’s encouragement has pushed Jorge and made him even more excited to continue giving back.

After speaking with the de Paz family, it is safe to say that they are doing their best to make a difference and give back. “We have regularly donated food and clothing to the St. Agnes Church in West Chester. We also try to donate toys to Toys for Tots each Christmas. On his own, Jorge had donated money to the ASPCA and made cat toys for the Delaware Humane Society.” The de Paz family explains that “PALCS has provided an environment in which Jorge has been recognized for his academic achievements and has been given a helping hand in carrying out some of his big ideas.”

Jorge tells us that he would like to be able to donate to the ASPCA again, and also hopes to continue to help Safe Harbor. When not giving back and helping others, Jorge enjoys focusing on his passions, which include animals, space, and playing guitar. “Jorge is voracious learner,” his mother tells us. “He loves to read and learn about anything he can get his hands on.” One day Jorge hopes to become an environmental scientist, astronomer, and wildlife biologist!

Thank you to Stephanie and Oscar, Jorge’s parents, for speaking with us and sharing their story. We are extremely proud of Jorge for all of his accomplishments, and for making a difference in the community! Keep up the hard work!

For more information about Safe Harbor, please visit: