The belief of paying it forward, no matter what, is a mantra Kyle resident Arthur Zamarripa tries to live by.
From putting in 20 years of work with the Kyle Parks and Recreations Department, to helping to steer area youth away from bad situations, Zamarripa seeks to give back to the community he serves.
It leads to a question he asks himself and the Almighty each day – “What am I here for?”
Part of that stems from his upbringing on what were the tough streets of east Austin where he saw “a lot of stuff.” Societal ills wrangled many of his family members, which ultimately led Zamarripa’s mother to sit him down and advocate for change.
“Back in those days, I could have easily fallen into their shoes real quick. But I chose not to,” Zamarripa said. “My mom was tired of it and she sat me down and asked, ‘Why don’t you give me a break.’ So I did.”
Part of that was becoming a DJ, which was an outlet and helped him to expand his wings beyond his neighborhood.
As he grew older, Zamarripa used his experience as a DJ to mentor kids and teach them a trade, thereby getting them off of the streets and out of harm’s way.
Zamarripa also pays it forward through his tenure, which began in 1998, in the Parks Department. At that time, Kyle didn’t have a Parks Department, and wouldn’t until Gregg Clarke Park was created a year later.
The desire to work in a growing city, however, drove Zamarripa to Kyle, where former Kyle city employee “Boots” Montague helped him obtain a job in the city.
While it can be hard work, Zamarripa enjoys the payoff of seeing families enjoy the city’s parks system. He also enjoys showing off the hard work put in by the Parks department staff, primarily during the holiday season and the city’s Christmas displays in City Square Park. It’s his way of giving back to the community.
“When I see them out there playing, it makes me feel joyful,” Zamarripa said. “I’m giving back to the community in a way.”
He also gives back to prisoners at the Kyle Correctional Facility, which partners with the city of Kyle for a work release program.
While working with prisoners, Zamarria talks with them and they share stories, learning about what they’ve gone through and what they’ve been through in life.
That allows Zamarripa to pass that on to the younger generation, showing them what to avoid and to find a much less difficult path in life.
“I’ve been real lucky and God has been carrying me ever since,” Zamarripa said.
Editor’s note: Arthur Zamarripa was one of the nominees for the Hays Free Press Citizens of the Year search. Keep reading the Hays Free Press for highlights of other nominees in the community.