Blog Archive

Monday, January 29, 2018

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard | Senior Director | Great Lakes Region

Janjira Prompinit. Hellen Aromo Omuka. Veerada Sarapat. Yanam Saewue. Purity Salama Julius. These are the names of the underprivileged girls I have supported or am currently supporting in developing countries. Children across many portions of the globe do not have access to everyday necessities that we take for granted such as schooling, medical care, nourishing food, clean water and a safe environment. The international statistics on poverty and child abuse are staggering. Young girls are particularly vulnerable which is why over the last 20 years I have chosen to sponsor and support females throughout a majority of their childhood and teen years.

A peer-reviewed study of the organization through which I provide my support, Compassion International, appeared in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Political Economy and the results indicated that those children like mine who are sponsored through the program are 14 to 18 percent more likely to have salaried employment and 35 percent more likely to secure white-collar employment as adults. As a proud employee of the RSM organization my dream is that the children I support can also obtain meaningful employment that provides the same values and opportunity for advancement through the workforce.

This study also concluded that those children sponsored are 30 to 75 percent more likely to be leaders in their communities and 40 to 70 percent more likely to act as leaders in their church upon reaching adulthood. The core value of stewardship and development is further evidenced by the study’s findings that sponsorship increases the likelihood of a child becoming a teacher by 63 percent.

Lasty, in regards to education the study has found that the program extends the average length of time that a child will stay in school and increases the likelihood that they will complete a secondary education program by 27 to 40 percent and the completion of a university education by 50 to 80 percent. In fact, two of my own sponsored children have completed their high school equivalency education within their home countries. The ability to impact a child’s life by not only assisting in their physical well-being but also by advancing their education and employment opportunities is well aligned with the RSM core calues of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence and stewardship.

Although my sponsorship over the past 20 years has resulted in the exchange of what likely amounts to hundreds of letters, pictures, artwork and other correspondence I have never been blessed with the opportunity to speak to any of my sponsored children, let alone meet them face to face. My Pursue Your Passion dream is for myself and my significant other to get the chance to visit one of my girls and interact with them on a personal basis.

I cannot express in words what I envision it would feel like to meet one of my sponsored girls with a visit also allowing me to experience the culture as well as the challenges that they face. It would be gratifying to also observe the child development center and see the organization in action as it improves the lives of these children. Additionally, my goal would be to utilize the trip to not only meet my child but to also provide additional support to the underprivileged in the area.

Depending upon the logistics of a pre-organized trip planned by the organization, I hope to participate in a “CauseTrek” which adds an additional aspect to the trip. In addition to the normal visit, these trips also incorporate a further fundraising component, requiring each traveler to committing to raising funds for a specific charitable purpose. Ideally, there is a trip to Tanzania which can be customized such that I can meet my child from Kenya as well as participate in the CauseTrek for this trip, which entails raising funds to implement water wells, rainwater-harvesting systems, the building of new latrines and in-home water filters benefiting children in Tanzania.

Although pre-planned trips are offered on specific dates and have a limited number of travelers allowed, Compassion International also assists in personalized trips which can be customized if a planned trip is unavailable. My plan is to work with the organization to raise funds for my local visit, even if a CauseTrek is unavailable.

RSM takes pride in focusing on communities and operating in a socially responsible manner. I cannot think of a more socially responsible action than supporting those in the greatest need in our world and often literally clutching them from the grasps of poverty and providing them with a safer and healthier life and greatly increasing the likelihood of an education and gainful employment. It will be a dream come true for me to see my sponsorship in action with my own eyes and hopefully provide not only one of my sponsored children but their entire family and others in their community with some love and inspiration as we meet in person.

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Megan Reishus

Megan Reishus | Associate | Central Region

I’ve been playing handbells for 21 years, over two thirds of my life. It’s my passion and it’s what I spend basically all of my free time doing. I love the music, the people and perhaps most of all the teamwork that is fundamental to success in the handbell world. I’ve often heard handbell ensemble ringing called “the ultimate team sport” because the music is written like a piano score but is played by multiple people. Each person has their own notes for which they’re responsible, and each note has to be played consistently – both visually and aurally – with the other ringers’ notes to create a smooth musical line and visually pleasing performance. This type of music truly encompasses many of RSM’s core values – particularly teamwork as mentioned above, excellence considering the level at which we strive to perform and stewardship considering that we also teach other musicians.

When I was a student at St. Olaf college, I joined a handbell ensemble that changed my perception of this instrument from a hobby that I enjoyed but to which I didn’t dedicate much effort, to a true passion into which I’ve poured myself completely ever since, striving for excellence in my own personal skills as well as working tirelessly to be a strong member of consistently excellent performing ensembles. In 2011, I moved cross-country and joined two world-class handbell groups right away – a 15-member advanced community handbell ensemble called the Pikes Peak Ringers and the elite Forté Handbell Quartet. This latter group gets to the root of my passion for the instrument. The four of us are great friends and we push each other to new heights every single week. We strive for excellence and never settle for less than our best, and we keep raising that bar when we succeed at short-term goals. In 2016 we were featured performers at the national seminar for the Handbell Musicians of America, our national organization, and the experience of touring across the country and then back home (and playing for that signature event in the middle) was something I’ll never forget.

Because we’re passionate for always getting better and dreaming bigger, we have goals and hopes for continuing to build our skills and share the music of this wonderful instrument that we love with the world. We want to continue to tour to different locations in the U.S. and maybe even internationally, eventually. We also take great pride in our first CD that we produced in 2016, as well as our DVD of music videos produced in the same timeframe, and hope to release more discs in the coming years. Our goal in producing videos of our music was to break away from the standard (for handbells) static camera recording of a concert venue and do something different, so we’ve been working with videographers and creating music videos, recording in locations varying from the top of a mountain to a snowy castle, from train tracks to open fields. We have all sorts of ideas to grow and bring our instrument to the world and challenge (and ultimately overturn) the stereotype of handbells as a novelty instrument only used at Christmas.

However, we have one main obstacle holding us back from the freedom to pursue these ideas without constraint: we don’t own all of the equipment that we use. We borrow a significant portion of our instruments from local churches and community ensembles, and our ability to use them depends on the schedules of the actual owners of the instruments. The equipment that we would need to purchase in order to gain our independence and flexibility, however, is fairly expensive. Even with each of us giving our time, energy and often monetary investment to the group, we know that we will need additional financial support to be able to be free to pursue our shared passion in the near future without limitations. This contest will have such a lasting impact on me and my quartet, since once we purchase the remaining equipment that we don't yet own, we gain the independence to freely pursue this passion for years to come, and the funds from this contest would go a long way toward getting us there.

I think this Pursue Your Passion contest is so incredible. Reading the winning entries from the past two years was so enjoyable and inspiring, and I just hope my passion and proposal for how this contest could help me pursue it will stack up with current year submissions. I also think it would be really rewarding, if I am blessed enough to be selected, for my group to be able to come perform at one of the large RSM conferences held throughout the year, and show off our shiny new instruments in a “thank you” performance. Short of that, it would be my honor to share videos and blog entries of our spring tour from Colorado to Georgia and back – for which the nine additional days off to pursue this passion would be so helpful – as part of the contest follow-up.

In terms of the budget, my immediate goal is to purchase a three octave set of bronze handbells and their protective cases. This would leave my group able to focus our future cash flow toward CD/DVD/music video production and the final octave of bells to complete our primary set.

Meet Pursue Your Passion Winner: Bryan O'Neal

Bryan O'Neal | Supervisor | Great Lakes Region

I adopted my son when he was 5 years old, knowing that he had a complicated medical history. He weighed 1 pound 7 ounces when he was born at 27 weeks, and shortly after birth he developed a virus that damaged most of his intestines. Because of this he has had countless surgeries to repair his intestines, and is 100 percent dependent on Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) for all of his nutritional needs.

Within four months of the adoption my son had to undergo a procedure to reposition his central line at a St. Louis hospital 2.5 hours away from our home. After the procedure the doctor came in and told us that the central line was working again, but during the procedure he had aspirated his stomach contents into his lungs. I’m not a doctor, but I knew that this couldn’t be good. Still, in the back of my mind I remember thinking, “Okay, Doc, you go get him fixed up, draw up the paperwork, and discharge him so that we can be home in time for dinner.” It obviously wasn’t that easy, and pretty soon I understood the severity of the situation, and that my son was fighting for his life. After a week in the hospital, including four days in the ICU, he finally recovered and we were able to go home.

This was an incredibly stressful and challenging time for our family. Thankfully we had the support of our family and friends to help us through. We also had the full support of RSM, who allowed me to take time off and work remotely, even though we were in the middle of busy season and I had only been on the job for a little more than a year. We were also fortunate to have a place to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. My wife and I were able to take turns spending time away from the ICU in order to rest and recharge. We will never forget the kindness and generosity of the staff and volunteers; complete strangers who got to know us and showed incredible care and concern for us.

Since this incident in 2015 we have had to take our son for specialized medical care in St. Louis, Indianapolis and Omaha. In each of those places we have found the same care and compassion from everyone at the Ronald McDonald Houses.

Within a few months of returning home I became involved with Family House, a local not-for-profit in my hometown that provides affordable home-like accommodations for families of patients receiving medical care in the Peoria, Illinois area. I became a board member in 2015, and became president of the board in 2017.

In addition to my service on the board, my family and I regularly provide and prepare meals for the guests at Family House. We were always extremely appreciative when groups provided meals during our out-of-town hospital visits, so we want to do the same thing for Family House. Doing this is a great benefit to the families there, because it helps to relieve a little bit of the burden of being away from home, and it also allows for a time to interact with the staff, volunteers and other families staying at the house. This time of interaction is beneficial in helping people support each other during difficult times and celebrate medical victories and recoveries with one another. When we serve a meal at Family House we always take our son with us. He always looks forward to it, because there are usually some kids staying at the house that he can play with.

The current playroom at Family House has some toys and activities for children, but this is one area that could be improved. I will use my Pursue Your Passion funds to outfit the playroom with all new furniture, toys, games, a TV and video games. This would be a worthwhile investment because it would encourage interaction among the children and parents who stay at the house. In our personal experience, whenever our son has stayed with us at Ronald McDonald Houses he always looks forward to the playrooms. This is an important part of the house because kids staying there are away from their home and friends and family, and playing provides a needed distraction from whatever medical situation they are going through. This is true whether the child is there for their own medical care or because a loved one is receiving medical care.

Additionally, I will use some of the funds to install an outdoor covered grilling station with a new grill. When the weather is nice there are many guests and volunteer groups who grill out, which is another way to make Family House feel like home.

Family House, like all of the healthcare hospitality houses I have stayed at, provides a calm, comfortable, quiet and safe environment to help people through difficult times. I’m honored to be a part of this wonderful organization. I truly consider serving at Family House to be my passion. I wish that no family ever had to experience a medical crisis away from home, but since there will always be those cases I’m glad I can do my small part to make those families as comfortable as possible.

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Chris Guido

Chris Guido | Client Account Manager | Northeast Region

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to read my submission. When I first read about the Pursue Your Passion opportunity there was not a moment’s hesitation for what I would want to pursue, helping my local elementary school, Horatio B. Hackett Elementary school in Philadelphia.

A little background about myself. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, the son of a Philadelphia firefighter and a Red Cross nurse. I am a product of the Philadelphia Public school system. My parents both instilled in me a strong sense of civic responsibility and giving back whenever one has the ability to do so. Your community has as much an impact on the person you become as you can have an impact on your community and those around you. Along with an altruistic nature as being so critical in life was also the importance of education that they emphasized.

A proper education can systemically assist in the resolution of so many challenges every person encounters, whether it be socio-economic, racial, physical or mental disabilities or any other number of challenges children and individuals face throughout their life. Many of my peers and longtime friends are teachers and I truly admire their dedication to both of these traits, giving back and educating our youth.

As I started to think about my own education and what opportunities allowed me to move forward in life I think about how both my family and my educators allowed me to experiment, innovate and problem solve for a variety of situations throughout life. I started to think about how this could be included and made available to students of the Philadelphia public school system. Many of these children come from households where an opportunity to innovate and experiment is not always available to them.

I started looking in to Maker’s spaces and new focus on STEM; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. They have begun popping up in communities, but there has been a movement to make these spaces available within schools themselves. So what is a Maker’s space? It’s a place for children to solve problems, invent and be creative. It provides a variety of resources for kids to utilize materials, technology and their mind to solve problems. It allows children to work independently or collaboratively improving concepts for working both independently and with teamwork.

This space provides materials from the fundamental; rope, levers and weights, to the more complex; computers, 3D printers, laser cutters and software. It gives teachers the opportunity to develop creative lesson plans for students to invent something new or leverage the tools they have at their disposal to solve a potential problem. It will allow the students to express themselves creatively. People often forget that there are so many different ways to solve a problem and this will help in demonstrating the variety of paths one can take to get to a destination.

There a number of areas that this type of financing will be able to immensely support in getting this space up and running. After speaking with the school they do already have a space carved out for the Maker’s space. I will first utilize both my time and funds for preparing the room in terms of the necessary furniture and readying the room between cleaning and applying fresh coats of paint. Next I will work with the staff to finalize of a list of items that would be most exciting for the students to leverage. As mentioned previously this would range from both the fundamental to the more advanced. Some of those items would include a laser cutter, a 3D printer, a computer, craft materials and educational kits such as Kinex, Magnetic Tiles and Legos. I will then spend time with the staff to work on developing lesson plans with the faculty and ultimately participate in some of their first sessions inventing, building and problem solving.

Being a part of this would be so meaningful to me. I had a father that was so involved in my day-to-day school life and, as a father myself, I envision seeing myself being involved as he was. I recognize how important this is. If I can begin the process now to build a better experience for the kids of the Philadelphia school district that would be an amazing experience.

If you are not a native Philadelphian you may not be aware of some of the budget challenges the school district of Philadelphia has faced over the last several decades. I have been aware of it since I was in high school from 1996 – 2000. The school district has consistently faced budget challenges and has undergone state control without positive results which has now been passed back to the city. If there is any way I can give back I jump at the opportunity. I regularly attend cleanups and fundraisers to help out with when needed. To be able to give back to a group of teachers who were role models when I was in high school and to the teachers who are now my peers and I truly admire would mean the world to me.

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Devon Maslyn

Devon Maslyn | Associate | West Region

When my mom was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given only four months to live, my family and anyone that she had ever met was impacted.

To understand why, you have to know that my mother was a super hero. She dropped out of high school, had a baby at 17, got married at 18 and had three more kids by 25. She fought for years for her marriage during my father's absence due to his alcoholism and addiction. She authored an award winning children's book, travelled the country speaking at women's conferences, and owned and operated an insurance company, all while being a mother of four. She had a loud laugh, a smile that lit up a room, people skills that allowed her to relate to anyone on the planet and a love for human life. She sang theater songs into her hairbrush while doing her hair. She found ways to burn Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. She’d hug her kids the tightest when we wanted it the least. My mother was special, plain and simple.

In 2012, after going to the hospital for dizziness and shortness of breath, our lives changed forever. She had a biopsy to determine what type of cancer she had. Glioblastoma Multiforme - the most aggressive brain cancer with nearly a zero percent survival rate. Before her biopsy, my mother said, “These surgeries might change me, but remember that you kids are my best thing.” She was right; the biopsy messed with a part of the brain that left a different mother than the one I’d grown up with. The surgery took away nearly all of her short term memory making ability. She’d forget conversations, where people lived, when she’d seen people last and what she ate for lunch that day. The inoperable tumor took the intangible “thing” that allowed her to remember details and connect with everyone she met. She couldn’t be left alone because of her memory, but she had hundreds of friends sign up to “babysit” her so that my dad could get a few hours of work in. Thanks to the superhuman caretaking by my father (he’s been sober for five years!), grandmother, and “babysitters,” we got three years with my mother before the cancer won. She was 46.

Those years of sickness were filled with horrible things like strokes, falls, seizures and near-death experiences; they were also filled with laughs, stories, photos, hugs and a lifetime of memories. During the three years, through chemo, radiation, migraines and more, my mother didn’t complain once - not a single time. Never a “why me?” or a response worse than “adequate” when asked how she was feeling. As a testament to how beautiful she was, over 2,000 people attended her memorial service. We received hundreds of letters from churches and individuals around the globe during her sickness. My mother was objectively spectacular.

I was 22 when she passed. It’s strange to think of how much I’ll have to do without her. She didn’t see me graduate college; she won’t see me get married. There’s no good way to cope with losing a mother, but I constantly remind myself that my mother is everywhere because I’m half her. My mother instilled in me an insatiable curiosity and a need for adventure. She gave me a genuine passion for people that friends and strangers notice frequently. I inherited her motivation to accomplish goals. I have her blue eyes. I like singing theater songs, especially when others can hear.

Where does RSM's Pursue Your Passion program come in?

Even at 46, she lived a full life. She accomplished nearly everything she wanted to. One thing she and my dad spoke about doing though, was completing the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It is a network of pilgrimage trails that ultimately lead to the shrine of the apostle Saint James. The trail is meant for travelers to grow and discover, both emotionally and spiritually. My idea, given the time and money from RSM, is to bike the 490 mile trail with my father while we carry my mother’s ashes. These miles would enable us to honor my mother by completing the trail for her. It would also empower my father and me to grow and develop as people in order to be better family members, friends, employees, and humans. The trail will be a thank you to my father for spending three years caretaking for my mom and his wife of nearly 30 years. Many people trek the Camino de Santiago, so the trail is a perfect place to connect with others from across the globe and share with them the love my mother was capable of giving. I want her passion for people to be evident through my interactions with others. I want to tell stories of her so that her memory never dies. I want the wind to carry her ashes from the peaks of the trail so that she can be free again. I want my mom to experience us living our life the way she would have lived hers.

With the money, I’ll buy transportation to and from the trail in Spain for my father and myself. I'll rent bikes for the two of us. I'll spend some funds on equipment like spare tires and tubes, tools, biking clothing, and other miscellaneous things to keep us up and running during the trip (sunscreen, rain tarp, bug spray). The remainder of the funds will be used for food and lodging along the way.

Regardless of whether or not I get selected to fulfill this experience, I am thankful for the opportunity and motivation to put pen to paper about this wonderful woman. Despite the tears, I've learned an immense amount about myself. I miss my mom like crazy. I miss how she listened. I miss her hugs. I miss her genuine concern for my well-being. I miss her every day. However, I’m hopeful that, thanks to RSM, she won’t miss accomplishing this trail.

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Jacob Morse

Jacob Morse | Associate | Central Region

On September 28, 2016, just 33 days before I was slated to start with RSM last fall, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The uncertainty that came along with a cancer diagnosis was unsettling to say the least. Just over a month away from beginning my professional life, my roadmap had suddenly flown out the window and sat along the highway as I kept driving on. After a slew of scans, biopsies and surgeries I was given a stage 3b diagnosis (stage 4 being the most bleak), my treatment plan was in place and I was ready for some chemotherapy in mid-October.

Once treatment started I was able to think about my career again. I called my office’s (Denver) HR representative soon after my diagnosis, unsure of how my potential employer may react to the bad news. Thankfully I was assured that I’d still have my position at RSM, that my health was the most important, their top priority, and that I could take as much time as I needed during treatment. At this point I had a decision to make. I could wait at home, in rural Idaho, during a six month treatment or I could move the 700 miles to Denver, mid-treatment and begin my career. I elected the latter.

After about five months of treatment that included a week-long hospital stay, a blood transfusion and six cycles of chemotherapy, I was blessed enough to receive a clean scan on March 9, 2017 – just five days after my 24th birthday. Throughout the time from diagnosis to remission I realized, over and over again that, no one goes through cancer on an island. I was fortunate enough to have wonderful support throughout my treatment. I had an amazing girlfriend that was by my side at nearly every chemotherapy session, and my family and friends always called to see how things were going and sent gifts. RSM was also extremely accommodating allowing me to work when I could and rest when needed. Another large part of my support network was the young adult cancer community. Social workers at my hospital put me in touch with as many resources as they could, but often lamented that the young adult cancer community is one of the most underrepresented and underfunded. I would like to use the time off and funds provided by the 90-90-9 Pursue Your Passion award to become more involved in, and bring awareness to, the young adult cancer community now and for years to come.

First Descents and Hope for Young Adults with Cancer are two organizations that stood out to me while going through treatment and learning about support for young adults (typically age 18-39) with cancer. First Descents provides life-changing, outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer and Hope for Young Adults with Cancer provides direct financial support to young adult patients and survivors through their “Giving Hope Fund.”

First Descents offers free week long outdoor experiences like rock climbing, kayaking or surfing and empowers participants to retake control of their lives after a diagnosis – all while connecting with other young adult cancer patients and survivors. By attending a First Descents trip, I hope to share my experience with other cancer survivors and learn from others’ experiences as well. I also hope to make great friends and become involved in the First Descents alumni system for years to come so that I can be better equipped to be a steward for the young adult cancer community.

First Descents’ slogan, “Out Living It,” is a call to action that bears a striking resemblance to one of RSM’s key tenets: Owning Our Future. When I was diagnosed last fall, I could have stayed in Idaho and let cancer decide my future. I chose to move away from home and begin my career during treatment. If First Descents helps survivors “outlive” their diagnosis I think I will fit right in and my survivorship experience will be greatly enhanced for the rest of my life.

The other organization I’d like to get involved with is Hope for Young Adults with Cancer. This April I attended a conference for young adult cancer patients and was very fortunate to cross paths with one of the co-founders of Hope for Young Adults with Cancer, Billy Paymaster. Billy told me about his organization and that his is one of very few that offer direct financial assistance to young adult cancer patients.

Having gone through a cancer treatment, I can say wholeheartedly financing the treatment was high on my list of concerns. Cancer isn’t cheap and organizations like Hope for Young Adults with Cancer strives to alleviate as much financial stress on patients as they can so that the patients can focus solely on their recovery. Billy’s organization is becoming better known in the cancer community which is fantastic, but this also means that there are more applicants for grants but not necessarily more money. In order to provide financial support to young adult cancer patients and survivors, I would like to support Billy’s organization.

Many hospitals and cancer treatment centers offer financial assistance to patients, but frequently that assistance doesn’t cover the full cost of treatment. Moreover, life doesn’t stop due to a cancer diagnosis. Patients still have bills to pay and children to feed and unfortunately not all employers have the ability to adjust to the physical and mental needs of their diagnosed employees the way that RSM did for me. By donating the majority of my Pursue Your Passion award to Hope for Young Adults with Cancer I will be helping cancer patients get through one of the most difficult challenges they’ll face in their lifetime and will be giving back to the community that helped me own my future when I was faced with the same challenge.

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Joy Herrmann

Joy Herrmann | Manager | Northeast Region

My passion is to bring clean water and teach proper sanitation techniques to people in need in a foreign country. While the vast majority of us in the United States are able to access clean water easily, which we often take for granted, there are many places in the world that need clean water. More important than simply accepting water donations, they also require assistance in drilling clean water themselves and learning proper sanitation techniques to build a sustainable future.

I have had immediate access to clean bottled spring water my entire life. My grandfather owned a spring water delivery company, and shortly after I was born my father started his own spring water business. Throughout my lifetime, I have witnessed my father constantly and with humility donate water to friends, family, athletic tournaments, a variety of organizations and anyone in need.

There are many organizations that lead mission trips to provide clean water to countries in need. I recently discovered Living Water International, which is a nonprofit organization based in Houston, Texas. Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water and to experience “living water” which alone satisfies the deepest (spiritual) thirst.

I would like to continue in my father’s footsteps and continue to supply the gift of water. Through Living Water International, I will participate in a mission trip to bring clean water and educate the people in a community in Honduras. My father’s selfless charity and quiet generosity set such a positive example in my life, so I will invite him to come on this trip with me to serve a community in Honduras.

The objectives of the trip are to drill a shallow-water well, teach hygiene and encourage the villagers to develop a healthy community. The trip is not only about bringing safe water but also forming relationships with people in the village, the field staff and the team. The trip will be six to seven days, beginning travel on Sunday. On Monday, work in the community will start. For four days, the team will work on building the well or facilitate hygiene training. I believe that I can utilize the delivery skills I developed from RSM’s Facilitating Interactive Learning training to effectively facilitate hygiene training. Additionally, the team will attempt to drill a shallow-water well using mud rotary. The hygiene team provides hygiene education, teaches lessons and plays with the children. Usually the team finishes on the fourth day of drilling and then enjoys a well-dedication ceremony.

The core values of RSM align with my passion to bring access to clean water to Honduras:

  1. Respect – Latin America has a male-dominated culture. For example, women are required to dress modestly and not to hold extended eye contact with men. On this trip, men can set a great example through their interactions with female team members and local women. These actions of respect will be observed by the locals and may affect positive change within the community.
  2. Integrity – the founders of this organization and volunteers are dedicated to helping the locals while honoring God, developing people, pursuing excellence and being good stewards.
  3. Teamwork – the pump repair, drill and hygiene teams will work together to assess well performance and will partner with the local communities to find solutions to bring water back to service. Although the teams will be divided during the day to assigned tasks, all trip participants will come back together as a team each evening for meals and devotions.
  4. Excellence – water access is about more than just installing water systems. It is about installing the correct type of system to facilitate sustainable access to clean water for years to come. Additionally, it’s about helping whole communities and regions to have enough safe, accessible, reliable water to significantly improve the lives of the people who live there. It will be hard to determine which lives will be changed more – those there to serve or those being served.
  5. Stewardship – team members will use an LS400 drill rig and work aside hygiene teams to teach proper sanitation techniques. During the trip, we will develop meaningful relationships, experience the local culture and hopefully return home completely transformed.
My Pursue Your Passion award will cover costs of the well, travel and I hope to purchase gifts including toys, school supplies, Spanish bibles and general hygiene supplies for the Honduras community.