By Arnold Gacita, CEO of Petra Automotive Products
I have long been a believer in corporations giving back to the communities and industries they serve. We recently created and introduced Petra Cares, a non-profit that takes Houston youth from the foster care system and/or homeless teens and young adults and guides them in a six-week dealer technician course, with one week of life skills. Then promises to help them secure a job at one of our dealer partners in Houston and surrounding area upon graduation.
I began this program after I found out the following: 80% of youth transitioning out of foster care will end up deceased, incarcerated or homeless; one in five of these young people will end up homeless within one year of emancipation; and 16% to 20% of these individuals score lower than their peers on standardized testing. I knew something could be done to help these young people find a new path in life. I’m honored to say our first graduating class finished their training on August 4, 2023.
I was reminded of the importance of giving back after my recent podcast interview with Troy Duhon of Premier Auto Group. If you have spent any time with Troy, you know how passionately he works to ensure people in need in his community, and around the world for that matter, get the help and assistance they deserve. His non-profit organization, Giving Hope, organizes annual mission trips to places around the globe to build orphanages.
My son and I had the privilege and honor to both contribute and travel with Troy and his family to witness one of the orphanages being built in Brazil. I’m of the mind that every individual who has been blessed with a successful business should go on a mission trip. I was in tears walking the streets of Brazil. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing, and I came away fundamentally changed.
In our episode, Troy tells how he took this idea one step further, discussing the importance of bringing our children along on these missions, saying, “Don’t take them to Disneyland. Don’t take them to Hollywood. Don’t take to the beach. Take them overseas. And watch it change in their hearts and minds. They don’t know how people live. Everyone (in the U.S.) has a debit card, an iPhone and a car. That’s not how other people live.”
He goes on to say, “I encourage parents to send their child to a food bank, a soup kitchen, a children’s hospital, and if you have the ability to go overseas, go overseas. It will be the life-changing experience that every child needs.”
If you are as inspired by Troy and his vision and passion as I was during our discussion, I would encourage you to think through some of these ideas in order to not only give, but physically go and make the change you want to see.
What Do You Care About?
For me, it was youth and finding a way for them to break the cycle of hopelessness and joblessness. For Troy, it was impoverished children overseas. For you, it will be something different. But the key place to begin for any type of giving-back initiative is to determine what drives you and inspires you. Once you have this crystal clear in your mind, that’s where you begin.
What Belief Will Anchor This Philosophy? In Other Words, What Is the Mission?
For us, it is helping young adults successfully transition out of foster care. For Troy’s Giving Hope, it is dedicated to their vision – Love Changes Everything. Once you’ve decided what you care about most, it’s time to sharpen your vision statement and what you want your charitable arm to accomplish.
Determine Who Is Needed to Make It a Reality
While the focus of your non-profit is to give back, the truth is any charitable program takes a lot of work, structure and people to make it successful. Think through the team members you already have, or who you need to hire, in order to make your vision a reality and then get to work putting the team together.
A nice side benefit of giving back is the bump it creates for consumer perception. According to a recent Forbes article, more than 81% of millennials say they want to support a brand with corporate citizenship.
If You Find Now Is Not the Time…
If you complete the above steps and find that, for whatever reason, now is not the time to start your own non-profit program, I encourage you to pull up your sleeves and become involved with one. As Troy said in our interview, take your children. Let them see an entirely new perspective and watch it change them for the better. I promise you. You won’t be sorry.