Words Move Us, Examples Change Us
EO Guadalajara is breaking new ground as the first chapter in EO to appoint a Community Outreach Chair, a unique position that speaks to the chapter’s passion and eagerness to contribute to the greater good of humanity. I am fortunate to serve in this role. In 2016, I helped implement the chapter’s “Challenging Your Vision” program, which assists 300 young men as they transition from high school to the workplace. By focusing on various topics such as self-esteem, life plans and resilience, EO Guadalajara members mentored these students as they prepared for the challenges of adulthood.
A staggering 50% of Mexico’s citizens are poor, with 10% enduring extreme poverty. According to the Borgen Project, about 25 million Mexicans make less than US$14 a day, despite the country’s sizable GDP of US$1.283 trillion. Energized by the notion of counteracting these dismal statistics, EO Guadalajara took action. They selected Villa de los Niños (“Boys Town”), an institution with campuses throughout Latin America, as an ideal opportunity to impact young men seeking to make their mark on the world.
To be accepted into the Villa, boys must be among the poorest of the poor with a strong desire to improve their situation. They must also commit to teaching others in their community what they’ve learned. The Villa’s Guadalajara campus houses about 2,000 boys who are undertaking a five-year high school program, where they will learn technical skills like auto mechanics, painting or carpentry. After graduation, most of the students will enter the workforce, while a small minority will continue on to college.
Based on the idea that “words move us, examples change us,” my EO peers shared their challenges to illustrate the concept of learning from adversity. Presentations by 17 members included: “Life is Not Fair,” “Powerful Habits,” “Failure is Part of Success” and “The Outcome of Doing the Right Thing.” Members specifically crafted presentations to instill an entrepreneurial spirit, encourage self-esteem and help the students become more competent, ambitious and honorable. All presentations were filmed so that they can impact future Villa students, as well as students in other organizations.
EO members also facilitated peer-to-peer sessions between Villa students and graduates, exploring topics such as challenges in the workplace, meeting expectations and financial planning. By graduation day, the boys were knowledgeable, inspired to excel and prepared to overcome obstacles. What’s more, 10 of the graduates were hired by members’ companies.
The program also impacted the EOers. We feel we benefited as much as the students in preparing and sharing our stories, and receiving feedback. In 2017, we will grow the program with more speakers and organize a job fair where invited companies can hire up to 300 graduates. We’re also exploring ways to assist students who want to go to college.
Beyond our chapter, this outreach effort has instilled a sense of pride in the staff of my company. We hired a Villa graduate who was instrumental in organizing the program, and he is a great addition to our team. My goal is to make community outreach an integral part of doing business, keeping my employees apprised of ongoing activities and encouraging their participation.
The ROI for our new community outreach program is palpable: EO Guadalajara is attracting more members and member participation is on the rise. Long term, we hope this initiative will prepare more capable people for the workplace, positively impacting the Mexican economy, and consequently, our businesses. This effort marks a change in mindset for many of us who strongly believe that community outreach is a part of our mission to be the best we can be individually and with our families, businesses and communities. It is a part of the 360-degree platform needed by EO members everywhere.
Ernesto Amescua is EO Guadalajara’s Community Outreach Chair and the founder of AIM Worldwide, a marketing innovation agency. Ernesto is a family man with a keen interest in helping the poor and bettering his country. Contact Ernesto at [email protected].