It’s a typical Tuesday night for Myra Morales, as she wakes up at midnight, packs her bag for the gym, school and work. By 2 a.m., the 20-year-old is arriving to a church in Puyallup that hosts Freezing Nights, a program that provides the homeless with emergency shelter.
She’ll stay up all night doing her homework and checking on the homeless guests at Freezing Nights before heading to her pre-nursing classes at Clover Park Technical College — once breakfast and clean up are done. Morales also serves as president of the Associated Student Government group at the college.
When Morales’ parents first came to Puyallup some 15 years ago, her parents frequented St. Francis House, trying to learn English.
Morales has since moved to Spanaway, but the 20-year-old’s heart for her community still lies in Puyallup.
After she graduated from Graham Kapowsin High School in 2013, she was at the time trying to enlist in the military and trying to fill her free time.
“So I started going to mass at All Saints (Parish Catholic Church), and asked to see what opportunities were available for volunteering,” she said.
Morales started slowly volunteering delivering food for All Saints’ food bank, and eventually started volunteering one night a week with Freezing Nights.
“She’s always been willing to come and serve,” said Aleah Patulot, All Saints’ pastoral assistant for outreach.
As time went on, Morales was studying at Pierce College, working two jobs, playing on the soccer team and caring for her four younger siblings. Before long, it proved to be too much.
Instead of giving up volunteering, Morales decided to quit one of her jobs.
“I always say you have to do good to feel good,” she said. “Volunteering helps keep me in balance.”
Every Tuesday for the last year, Morales pulls an all-nighter to ensure the homeless in her former community have a warm place to sleep for the night.
Long before Morales started giving up her Tuesday evenings, she would keep bags of granola bars, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer and other essentials in her car that she and her brothers would pass out to the homeless whenever she would encounter someone looking like they needed a hand.
“At first, (my brothers) were hesitant,” she said. “But now they’re like, ‘Myra, there’s someone over there. Turn around.’”
Now that Morales is close to earning her associate degree at CPTC, the 20-year-old is making plans to enlist in the Army.
“Volunteering has been a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s something I enjoy. People feel like they have to buy something to give back, but you don’t have to spend anything ... it’s the small stuff that really counts.”