I’ve always tried my best to focus on small, simple actions that can have a positive impact. Simple gestures and actions that are meaningful and heartfelt can make a significant difference or, at the very least, be a trigger for a sequence of events that can turn into something special. When we first launched the Joe’s Crew Education Fund, this was our goal. To provide funding for those seeking to further their education and develop skills that would lead to employment or even the creation of a small business. Simple. Meaningful. Heartfelt.
Well, a year and a half later, I am proud to say that in phase 1 of the project we have supported 21 youth from the remote rural communities of El Escalon and San Ramon, El Salvador. These young men and women have taken introductory courses in subjects such as clothing manufacturing (seamstress/tailoring), auto mechanics, air conditioner repair, and sheetrock installation to name but a few. Gaining valuable skills in these areas is only part of the equation however. What has been most interesting to me is the excitement and confidence this has generated, not just the youth taking these courses, but for others in the community as well. The desire to learn, grow, and become an active participant in one’s community has become a spark of positive energy that has touched the lives of many.
As one of our students Francisco (Danny) tells us… “To me Unum's support has been the means to gain knowledge to be able to work and be somebody in this life. This support has opened the doors for me to enter into a world of continuous and advanced education. Thanks to Unum, I am able to travel everyday to Agape training Center so I can reach my goals in life.”
An interesting part of the process has been our ability to communicate with each other through our private group using WhatsApp. Through our group chats, it has been incredible to hear everyone’s stories of their experiences and accomplishments in the classroom, sharing photos of their work and celebrating each other’s success. This solidarity amongst the youth is what has touched my heart the most and had a profound impact on how I perceive and value this initiative, beyond the core aspects of skill and knowledge acquisition. Witnessing people coming together to support one another truly illustrates the power of community and the impact we can have on the lives of those around us through simple gestures of encouragement, love, and connection.
A BIG thank you to all of those who have supported us either financially or through your love and encouragement. I also want to thank the following members of our Salvadoran family who give of themselves to ensure this project moves forward and that these young people have a future:
Our Unum ambassadors on the ground in El Salvador, Sandra Quinteros and Alfredo Ramos.
The dedicated teachers of the Gloria Evangelina Garcia, Reina Marisol Sandoval, Carlos Alberto Flores, and Orquidea Esmeralda Alvarez.
Our friends at the Agape School in Sonsonate.
The members of the communities of El Escalon and San Ramon for all their support through the years and of course to all the students who have taken this step in their lives and who have shown faith in this concept.
Below are a few quotes from some of the Joe’s Crew recipients:
“I want to put into practice what I have learned and share this knowledge with other young people in the community.”
Fernando Antonio Vásquez Méndez, Sheetrock Installation.
“I want to generate sources of employment and be able to share what I have learned and establish myself in an auto mechanic workshop.”
Miguel Enrique Méndez Méndez, Auto Mechanics
“The learning was very good and is accompanied by practice. I want to be able to share my knowledge. I hope to take the other workshops that are the complement of this one, and perfect myself with other young people.”
Ariel Enrique Guinea Méndez, Auto Mechanics
“I feel very happy because my desire is to learn sewing and now with this knowledge and establish a small workshop in my house. I also want to share my knowledge
with other women or men.”
Deysi Yamileth Acevedo, Clothing Manufacturing
“With what I learned in the course I feel very capable of getting ahead and having a good future while sharing knowledge with others. My goal is to establish a small sewing workshop.”
Dina Candelaria Álvarez, Clothing Manufacturing
“I feel very satisfied with the course, because it was theoretical and practical. With this approach, what is learned is not forgotten. I will now look for work and promote myself in institutions to obtain experience and income.”
Fredy Yovany Corona Méndez, Sheetrock Installation
“With the skills and knowledge I have gained I want to find a job and continue in other courses to improve my learning.”
Norberto Enrique Ramírez Méndez, Sheetrock Installation
“I have learned how to develop a budget and install ceiling and walls made out of sheetrock. I want to be employed with what I’ve learned and support my family. I also want to continue with the Electrician course that is the complement because it is necessary to have knowledge of the electrical installations of the house.”
Mario Edgardo Ramírez Méndez, Sheetrock Installation
“Learning how to use an electric sewing machine was something that I had never done before and learning how to cut fabric for making garments was a very nice experience. I want to have an appropriate sewing machine for the preparation of garments, establish a small workshop and generate income for the family.”
Delmy Patricia Ramírez Cruz, Clothing Manufacturing
“Learning was a very nice experience because every day there was something different. I want to generate a source of employment and income for my family.”
Marleny Edelmira Méndez Méndez, Clothing Manufacturing
“I really liked the course because what I learned I was doing in practice. I want to find a job to help the family with the income and have the basic tools for this work. I wish to attend the complementary course of domestic electricity.”
Francisco Leonardo Leonardo, Air Conditioner Repair
“I want to find a job to be able to help the family. I also want to help or motivate other young people who get involved in these workshops (whoever values learning). I want to save some money to set up my own workshop and help other young people and the community.”
Mario Adolfo Cruz Barrientos, Air Conditioner Repair
“First, I will look for a job to generate income for the family and to buy a sewing machine of my own. Then, I will establish a shop with the other girls and sell our products.”
Jacquelin Areli Méndez López , Clothing Manufacturing
“The workshops gave me a great learning experience. I want to share what I’ve learned with other young people in need. I want to look for work in a shop or establish a small shop to generate income and employment. I wish to complete other courses
to add to what I have learned.”
Kelvin Joel Méndez Méndez, Auto Mechanics