KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An outpouring of support has flooded the family of Valeria Villa-Alvarado, a beloved front office secretary at East High School, who worked her way up in the district and into the hearts of hundreds.
At a time when so many are grieving, Dolores Davila, an East High graduate who connected with Villa-Alvarado, is sharing the good.
"I want Valeria's name to keep on living even though she's not here,” Davila said.
Davila described Villa-Alvarado as the smiling face you’d see every morning if you passed through the front office.
“'My kids need me.' And that's how it was every single day with her [Villa-Alvarado]," Davila said describing Villa-Alavarado's relationship with students.
Davila is one of many in the Kansas City Public Schools community mourning the sudden loss of Villa-Alvarado.
A growing memorial is now at East 12th Street and Bales Avenue, where Villa-Alvarado died Friday morning in a hit-and-run crash.
"The thing is, she wasn't just a person that a few people knew, like almost the whole Kansas City knew her,” Davila said in a testament to Villa-Alvarado's ability to connect with others.
According to Davila, she played the role of "mom" to many students, especially to those who didn’t speak English.
“Whatever you needed, if you needed a translator? Call Miss Villa," Davila said. "[Or] 'Hey, something’s wrong with a student but we don't know what they are saying, call Miss Villa.'"
At a time when the ability to have school in-person seems like a luxury, Davila says educators who touch lives the way Villa-Alvarado did are why it’s important for kids to be in school.
“Personally I went through depression and I went through becoming suicidal and she was the one who helped me out a lot," Davila said. "So me being bilingual and like certain days I would go to her and I would cry and be like 'Hey, like I'm going through this and I need you. I need you to help me.' And one time she opened her doors to me."
Shortly after her passing, a GoFundMe page was created to help with funeral arrangements and Villa-Alvarado's two young daughters, who were also injured in the crash but survived.
In just four days more than $10,000 has been raised.
There are plans to memorialize Villa-Alvarado at East High School.
The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department said it's still searching for the suspect involved in the crash.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline at 816-474-8477 (TIPS), or visit the Crime Stoppers website.
You will remain completely anonymous, and the tips are paid out in cash.