Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Live to Give

Pedro had an unusual childhood. His father died when he was ten, and as the oldest son, he assumed the responsibility to provide for his family. He dropped out of school and began looking for work. In his country, it was not uncommon for a child to find work in a factory. Wages were low and the hours were long, but Pedro was ambitious and he had a family to feed. After a long day at the factory, Pedro would walk the city streets with a rag and shine shoes for tips. When he saved enough money he purchased some shoe polish and his tips increased. After several years Pedro was able to acquire a small kiosk with a permanent location. Every evening after working in the factory Pedro would shine shoes and people came to respect him for his hard work and punctuality. Life was a struggle but he always wore a smile.

By his late teens, Pedro had become known as a master apprentice. He would regularly teach kids how to survive on the streets by shining shoes. He was sort of a big brother and mentor to dozens of youth living in challenging situations.

In time, Pedro came to have a family of his own, a wife and four children. Six people living in a one-bedroom shanty would have been unbearable if not for the love they felt for one another. Still, Pedro wanted more for his family, and this led to one of the most difficult decisions of his life.

Pedro asked his wife, Maria, to leave the country and find a higher paying job in America. She arrived in New York and was hired to work in a factory. She worked for two years to save enough money to buy a plane ticket for Pedro to join her. Then Pedro made another big sacrifice and left his four children with relatives so he could come to America and begin saving to bring them all together again. Pedro found work in a shoe factory, where his skill and experience with shoes allowed him to excel. He moved into manufacturing, where he made shoes for unique people and events. His shoes were worn by the famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, ballet dancers, and even the Smallest Man in the World in the Ringling Brothers Circus. Within two years, Pedro had saved enough money to bring his children to New York for a permanent family reunion.

JP was Pedro’s youngest son, and at age four, he had hardly spent any time with his parents. Pedro made up for this by teaching JP important life lessons about working hard and not forgetting where you come from. JP recalls numerous family trips back to his home country of the Dominican Republic. He never understood why his family traveled with so many suitcases on those trips. He often complained how heavy they were and found it curious that they were so light on the way back to NY. As a teenager, he learned that his father would pack the bags with clothes and supplies for people in his hometown less fortunate than him. This taught JP one of his dad’s favorite lessons firsthand: giving back unconditionally.

Pedro died in the summer of 2000 but his legacy lives on. JP, better known as Juan Casimiro, grew to be one of the world’s leading experts on youth empowerment. He is a Big Brother and mentor to over 100 youth. Juan travels the world, having visited over 30 countries, and never arrives empty-handed. In 2002, Juan started a toy drive to personally deliver toys to deserving children in developing countries. That first year he provided 50 toys to kids, and he knows from experience that one toy often gets shared and passed down to three younger children. Ten years later, the Casimiro Global Foundation has donated over thirty-thousand toys to children all over the world. This year they have a goal of 10,000 toys to benefit 10,000 children in 10 countries.

Remember that everything you do matters. Pedro’s life and lessons impacted his son Juan, who in turn has impacted hundreds of thousands of children all over the world. Their story inspired me to donate to their charity, and I hope you will consider donating toys or funds too:

Many people are looking to attract abundance into their life. Just remember that giving always precedes receiving.  This Holiday season, I give you the gift of the Live to Give Mindset.

Until next week...

Live Your Dreams

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