I’ve gone to SuperSaturday several times. I’ve heard the stories told by people who have been on a trip. How life changing these trips are. Over time, I became friends with Andy Lehman (Vice President of LifeSong for Orphans, an ROI partner). One day over breakfast, Andy asked me, “So, why haven’t you gone on a trip, yet?” And, you know, I didn’t have a reason.
From that point on, the die was cast, and I signed up for a trip to Plan Escalon in Honduras; but I didn’t just sign myself up for the trip – I signed up my 16-yr-old daughter and her friend, too.
One of the most impactful things for me was seeing life through my daughter’s eyes – watching how she grew and matured, and how she and her friend jumped in and volunteered. We served together and had a common purpose.
I not only saw my daughter through new eyes, but my peers as well. It was humbling to go on a trip with so many great people. Seeing Jeff Roster in New York is a different experience than in Honduras. You get to see people in a new light. The experience overwhelmed my expectations of how the trip would be.
I think people don’t always understand the strengths that they have and how to use them. But everyone has experience to bring to the table. Many of us have 20+ years in a career. We know intuitively how to do things. But these kids don’t. All they need is someone to guide and direct them. They have the passion.
I leveraged that passion for three teams of kids I coached at Plan Escalon, who were presenting their business ideas to a group of ROI leaders in a Shark Tank-like environment. The prize for the top three teams was further coaching to develop their businesses. The teams I helped coach took 1st and 2nd place out of 12 teams, and their dreams are well on the way to becoming a reality.
But the experience one brings to Escalon doesn’t have to stop, or even start, with business experience. One of the big highlights for me was bringing tennis to the kids and PE teachers at Escalon.
We brought 18 rackets, balls, and, through my affiliation with the UTA, mini nets that snap up. Six people stepped up to help, and within two hours, a team of us had formed. We taught 100+ kids tennis for the first time. It happened to be the hottest day of the entire trip, but the kids were having so much fun. I’m in the process, now, of translating lesson plans for the PE instructors.
I understand why some people haven’t made the jump to go on a trip. I’ve been there, myself; but most excuses are weak. Once you see firsthand what these projects are doing, you’ll catch the passion and the vision. At Escalon, you’re not just helping the school, but the entire country of Honduras. With what it takes to buy a car in America, you can buy a clean water project for an entire community in Honduras. The ROI investment is changing an entire country. Everyone needs to come and see how the money is being used.
Also keep in mind that many companies have corporate policies that allow paid time off for employees who engage in charity work. Jockey is one of those places, and I am very fortunate to work for a company that encourages us to make the world a better place.
And for those still on the fence, one last piece of advice: Don’t worry about a language barrier. A smile goes a long way.