When Arturo DeLeon’s three daughters enrolled in dance classes through Multicultural Education & Counseling through the Arts (MECA), he never anticipated he’d devote the next 16 years of his personal time to the organization.
But, in that time, he’s served as MECA’s volunteer certified public accountant, attorney, Board of Directors member and president. It’s been a significant time investment, but the dedication has been for a good cause.
“There’s not many programs in Houston – to this day – that offer cultural classes,” he said. “Especially not Hispanic ones, including ballet, Mariachi music, and dance.”
Launched 38 years ago, MECA is a community-based non-profit organization that fulfills the need of bring artistic and cultural exposure to children who wouldn’t otherwise have access. The group reaches K-12 students, as well as the community at-large, through daily after school programming, all-day summer school, and grant-supported cultural programs. To date, it’s impacted more than 4,000 students and their families.
As MECA’s finance committee chair, DeLeon reviews internal financial statements and assists in the organization’s non-profit tax exemption returns. Due to his work, MECA saves roughly $3,000 annually. As the group’s attorney, he drafts internal and conflict-of-interest policies, in addition to various contracts.
DeLeon does more than donate his professional services and money, though. He also helps run MECA’s Valentine’s Day-themed events, as well as its most successful fundraiser, the annual Day of the Dead party. During that event, he manages both the brisket and turkey leg food booths. The money raised, he said, went toward purchasing and turning an old elementary school into MECA’s current building.
Ultimately, DeLeon said, he’s a MECA volunteer because the organization offers services fulfill a need in Houston’s Hispanic community and beyond. The organization reaches beyond artistic exposure to offer teaching and tutoring, as well as babysitting for those who need it if they wish to take classes.
“It all just brings so much value to the community in a good, safe educational environment, he said.”