Friday, May 20, 2011

Guadalajara…a journey into a new emotional place

Let me tell you about a morning I had last week. And it revolves and around joy…the joy of children…none of them spoke English except with their smiles, and hugs which needed no language. I spent my morning at Guadalajara’s Lorena Ochoa School, painting and gardening with Site Chicago members and the children of the school. After this exercise my jeans are now paint splattered and my wonderful Ecco shoes even more so and I DON”T CARE. It was great. It was fun.

And after painting and planting we joined the executives of the school and the Lorena Ochoa Foundation (do you know who she is, she the great golfer from Mexico?) to give uniforms and shoes to 18 students in need. The children of this school are from a very underprivileged area. They need things. The school is beautiful. And it has an unbelievably creative system of education that combines academics with exercise and both with art in various forms. They exercise in the early morning to get rid of their special anxieties which might stem from their environment, then they are served breakfast which parents are required to prepare in weekly shifts, and then they study. After school there are programs for things like judo, and yoga and more.

We gave out these uniforms, courtesy of Chicago Site’s generosity, each interacting with the 18 kids who beamed and then hugged us before rushing to try on their new shoes. After we had gifted them, in turn they gave us each a customized piece of art they had created along with a letter explaining what that gift meant to them. And if that wasn’t enough, they came back over and over again to hug us, to thank us and hug us some more. Those faces will live in my teary eyed memory a long time. What special kids those were.

Social responsibility brought to life means a lot to me, and when as business people we can really make a difference, it’s an incredibly rewarding feeling. You all know how committed EE as a company (and me personally) is to making a difference, and this was once again pure unadulterated joy. I want to track some of those youngsters in the future, because from a life that offered little promise, this school will change their lives, and you could read this in their faces, and in their compositions to all of us.

If any of you are inclined to make any donations, each uniform is around $30 and each pair of shoes around $15. These things go a long way to boosting morale and giving these children a sense of worth.  Can each of you remember when receiving some act of generosity boosted your self esteem and outlook on life dramatically? If so, consider a small gift to this courageous and innovative school. We’d be happy to collect some donations and forward them on.

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