Good Matters™ Blog

Posted on February 16th, 2012

My Volunteer Story: Helping Hispanic youth realize their Dreams

Posted by Abby, Health & Specialty Sales

aI am a field sales rep for Tom’s of Maine, which means you can usually find me in the body care aisle of health and specialty stores in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic area. I make sure the stores carry the products you want, build displays and train the staff on products and promotions.

Growing up, my family always hosted exchange students which planted a seed of curiosity and love of foreign cultures and languages. I ended up studying Spanish in college and will always be very passionate about that particular language and culture. When first accepting my job at Tom’s, I was worried that I would no longer have a need to speak Spanish and would forget it quickly. I was excited to learn that one of the great benefits Tom’s offers is their volunteer initiative of encouraging employees to use 5% of their paid work time to volunteer. To me, this meant I could still incorporate what I’m passionate about into my everyday job. It’s a brilliant initiative in my opinion. Can you imagine how different our communities would be if all companies encouraged their employees to volunteer?

aAfter discussing the benefit with a friend, she connected me with the right people, and I found the perfect fit, Adelante Hispanic Achievers. This organization provides opportunities for Hispanic youth and their families to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to function cross-culturally and to contribute to society as informed and pro-active citizens. Cities throughout the United States are experiencing a rapid rise in a Hispanic population which often lacks the resources needed to succeed and contribute to the community.  Adelante Hispanic Achievers was chartered to address such challenges in our city by empowering Louisville’s Hispanic youth and helping them succeed in four critical areas of development: personal, social, cultural and educational.

My role with Adelante is as a tutor and mentor in an after-school program. This year I’ve been working closely with Christian and Karen two hours a week. We start our sessions with a creative writing prompt followed by other learning activities, homework and conversation. I’ve experienced firsthand that learning in a second language can be very challenging. Many of the students don’t speak English in their homes, so giving them a safe and comfortable place to practice is important. My favorite part about volunteering with the kids is observing their growing confidence, listening to their future plans and goals, seeing them smile and receiving hugs and appreciation from both the kids and their parents.

Thanks, Tom’s of Maine, for encouraging me to help better my community.  The goodness that goes on behind the scenes is one reason I’m proud to work for this company.

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