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Bright Futures: PNG’s Nguyen a frequent volunteer at Center

An assignment to help others at the Hospitality Center has led Diana Nguyen to continual acts of volunteerism.

On a recent early Saturday morning Nguyen, a sophomore at Port Neches-Groves High School, stood next to a large pot stirring cheese sauce. Nearby other volunteers manned other tasks in preparation for lunch. The center is under the umbrella of Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas and provides a clean, safe and dignified place for the needy to receive a hearty, daily meal, according to their website.

Nguyen first came to volunteer with fellow classmates in DECA, the international association of marketing students.

“I came for the first time in December with DECA and I said, heck yea, this is fun, this is what I love,” Nguyen said. “I didn’t know they (Hospitality Center) existed before this. These are people I love and I come every other Saturday.”

That first time encounter left an indelible mark on the high school student.

“That first time with DECA, I did the cooking part. They (class) left at 10 a.m., I wanted to stay and see them (patrons) eat,” she said. “They said ‘bless your heart’ and were so humble and thankful it made me cry all day.”

Fellow volunteers Chuck Minshew and Richard Balsamo are on the same schedule at the center as Nguyen and call her a great addition to the group.

Nguyen so enjoys the time the Hospitality Center that she brought along her grandmother, who is visiting from Vietnam, retired OB/GYN Dr. Lan Ngoc. Although there is a language barrier, Ngoc plans to continue volunteering along with her granddaughter.

Nguyen is in the Key Club at PN-G High School and is already planning for her future. She is enrolled in all advanced placement sources and doubled up on math courses this year.

“I’m shooting for Columbia University. It’s far fetched but I’m in,” she said, adding that she wants to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, Ngoc. “She’s amazing.”

Diana Nguyen is the daughter of Chau Nguyen and Van Nguyen.

Reporter: Mary Meaux, 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews