Who Are You?
It’s a question which has pervaded Robert Villegas’ life in ways he never expected when he first heard it voiced by a houseparent at Amarillo Children’s Home in 2001. “Who are you?” he was asked at age 14, sitting around the 50-year-old, 14-seater dining room table in Union Cottage. It struck him as a meaningful question then, and has remained so throughout his life. As a young teen, he recognized it to mean those asking cared about him and were in for the long haul. He later came to regard the question as his guiding star, indicating, “These people are asking the right questions. This is where I want to be.”
“Who are you now?” Buddy Fox, Robert’s elementary school principal turned college mentor, asked when Robert was questioning his career path. “Who are you?” he has been asked in every job interview in which he accepted the job. “Who are you?” he has been asked repeatedly by people who have spoken life into him.
So, who is Robert Villegas? At first glance, Robert is a suit-wearing Freshman principal at Palo Duro High School, an energetic father of 3, helper to an autistic brother, a success. A deeper look reveals a man full of passion who thrives on helping others succeed, who has big dreams and the drive to achieve them.
The late Guy Saunders, a life-long friend of Amarillo Children’s Home who was highly engaged with ACH during Robert’s years here, told him, “You’re going to make an impact in the world no one has seen before, but you just don’t know it yet. So be you. When you’re you, everyone around you is a better them.”
During his years at Amarillo Children’s Home, Robert discovered he is a light for people – that his outlook changes how others see. He found out he comes alive when he gets to help others grow. He aquired life skills which have served him well. “One of the most impactful things I learned was greeting others. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s so important. There is something to be said about making people feel comfortable around you. When you take that first step, that initiative to bring someone in, it makes all the difference for those around you.” He learned these things because he was at ACH.
“There is a negative phenomenon in the foster care ‘system’ – as a ‘system,’ it’s processing kids. When you process kids, the other side of that is prison – that’s the adult version of the ‘system.’ ACH doesn’t process kids; they build relationships with kids. They are building life-long relationships. I am a better person today because I lived at Amarillo Children’s Home – they taught me to be more than just a foster kid. I found my identity. I know who I am, and a lot of that is because people at ACH showed me. They showed me I was somebody, that I mattered. Now I want to do the same thing for other people. That’s who I am.”