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Cesar Chavez junior gives his all on the gridiron, in the community

Cesar Chavez junior Julian Barrera

What do most high school football players do on early Saturday mornings?

Sleep in? Recover from a hard-fought game on the gridiron underneath the Friday night lights?

Not Julian Barrera, a 16-year-old junior at Cesar Chavez High School that plays cornerback and wide receiver for the JV football team.

He spends his Saturday mornings and afternoons helping feed the homeless at Church for the Nations in Phoenix.

“It’s a cool experience because on a weekly basis, you get to see the people so often that they get to recognize your face and you get to hear about them and their days and the things they’re doing,” Barrera said.

The high school junior’s role in his volunteer time at the Phoenix-based church isn’t just limited to feeding the hungry. He also helps out with prayer as well.

“I love working for God,” Barrera said. “I love working for him and representing who he is.”

The 16-year-old has been volunteering at the Church for the Nations since August of 2018 after his godfather brought Barrera and his siblings there as a surprise.

Barrera said it was a weird surprise at first because he was so new to volunteering, but it didn’t take long for the football player to succeed in a new role.

“Sometimes my brothers and sister don’t come with me, and I’m tired in the morning from the Friday night before, but I’m willing to go because I want to see them and help out in any way I can,” Barrera explained.

Perhaps new roles and experiences are the reasons why Barrera has been able to make the transition from eight-man football during his freshman year at Skyline Prep High School to 11-man football at Cesar Chavez.

“This is a new experience because it’s 11-man,” Barerra said. “I was so used to eight-man. It’s a different concept. It’s really a learning experience and I like it and the competition is amazing.”

The junior CB/WR added that the team is doing well, but it’s the chemistry and competition that he enjoys the most.

And when asked about what the future holds after he’s played his last high school football game, the 16-year-old responded without missing a beat.

“I look forward to representing God and his image,” Barrera said. “I look forward to seeing and serving his people and that’s my main priority.

“Something as simple as opening the door, saying hi or smiling at somebody — just that can help brighten someone’s day. The little things and the simplest of good that you do can help out one person, maybe two, and it just grows from there. You can get people to do great things.”