‘It just takes a second to be nice,’ Surprise Squad recipient, community volunteer says

Surprise Squad is sponsored by Valley Toyota Dealers.
Saresse was shocked when her sister and adult son showed up at her workplace with the...
Saresse was shocked when her sister and adult son showed up at her workplace with the Arizona's Family Surprise Squad.(Arizona's Family)
Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 8:06 AM MST
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PHOENIX (Surprise Squad) -- Saresse works the front desk at a Valley real estate office. Her sister, Debbie, told the Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad that the site is where Saresse organizes a lot of her fundraising projects. Recently 3TV’s Gina Maravilla and the Surprise Squad showed up unannounced along with Debbie and Saresse’s adult son, Jael. “Hi, we’re looking for Saresse. Is that you?” Maravilla asked the bewildered receptionist. “Hi, Saresse, how are you doing? I know you know who this lady is, right?”

“My sister,” Saresse answered. She then gasped when she saw her son walk in, as well. “That’s right. Your son. And the Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad. And we’re here to see you, my friend. Can we take a little bit of your time? We heard about the great things you do in this community, so we would love to talk for a little bit about that because I understand that you are quite the inspiration.”

The team set up their cameras in an area behind the front desk. Flanked by her sister and son, Saresse began to explain what she does for the community and why she does it. “I volunteer at a group home. But I’ve been sick for awhile, so I haven’t been able to go there. I try every Sunday to bring them dinner. I do a toy drive at the end of the year to make sure these kids have something because without giving them something, they have nothing.”

Saresse continued to explain how she also is a driving force for an annual backpack drive for the kids in the group home. This year alone, she helped get 692 backpacks. “Tell me why that’s so special to your heart,” Maravilla said. “Because these kids, when they go to school, they want to belong with the rest of the kids. So, I work twice as hard to make sure I get them the name brands, and they feel like they’re a part of everybody else. It’s really important -- the name brand -- to these kids. They don’t want to feel second; they want to feel first.”

“If you have a minute, help somebody,” Saresse said. “Because it’s so important to lend a hand to somebody and just help them. Try to make a difference. Even if you’re just standing in line, and you see someone who’s not happy, just say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ Just greet somebody. Because you never know what that person’s going through. And they think, well, somebody cares. It just takes a second to be nice.”

“She’s been teaching me to give back ever since I was a kid,” Jael said. “There would be a homeless person on the street, and my mom would see him there a couple of times a week, and then after awhile, it would be like, ‘Hey, let’s go bring him some dinner.”

“I just want her to know we appreciate everything she’s done,” Debbie chimed in. “And I just think she needs to feel appreciated. We all care about what she does for the community.”

Maravilla handed Saresse an envelope. “From the Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad and our Valley Toyota Dealers, we want to present you this. We hope that it can help with some of your expenses.” Saresse got choked up when she saw a certificate for $3,000 inside. “Oh, it will. Thank you so much.” She explained that because of some health issues, she has some medical bills that need to get paid. “You don’t know how much this will help. Thank you so much. This is one day I’ll never forget.”