The story of my incredible experience with Horizon Gives Back

Hi, my name is Eric.

I think the Horizon gives back program is incredible. The fact that the company encourages you to do community service – and I mean real service – for people in need across the world is something that is the envy of all my friends. Last year I had the chance to go on a community service trip abroad in Peru and it was a moving experience.

My team volunteered at a community program called Martincitos, a center for senior citizens in the community of Villa el Salvador.

Imagine all of the problems seniors feel here in the U.S. – Isolation, Health Issues, trouble with government assistance – and add to it the severe poverty in the area and you have some idea of what life is like for the men and women of Martincitos. Most of them were not originally from Villa el Salvador, but came to the city of Lima from the surrounding countryside, seeking safety from a violent political movement and a better life for their families. In a way, they are victims of their own success, as many of their children moved away to seek their own better fortunes, leaving their parents without support.

Yet for all of that, it’s one of the happiest places I had the pleasure of being when we were in Peru. Martincitos was a place people came to celebrate being amongst friends. Everyone was so incredibly happy to see their friends and laugh and speak to one another.

This was a place they could gather three days a week to talk, play games, break bread, and pray with each other. It was a place that offered a bit of support and release of stress for a while.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we volunteered working at the center where everyone would come to socialize. While I was there, I helped in any way that I could – Shelling Lima beans to go in the pot for lunch, making trips to pick up supplies, helping someone with his daily exercise, and just being companions to everyone there.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we made home visits to those who couldn’t make it to the center. These are people who were either too unwell, too immobile, or who couldn’t afford to come that week and we could tell for many of them that it meant a lot for us to be there. One woman in particular was caring for a fully grown daughter who was also deaf. As we sat in their home, her daughter pulled out a photo album filled with pictures of all of the volunteers who had come to visit them over the years. Any time the volunteer was a big guy, she got a picture with him lifting her up in the air and every time we flipped to one of those, she would look up at me with this mischievous look on her face and tap the picture and tap my chest as if to say, “Hey buddy, you’re next.”

After we were done volunteering, I stayed in Peru with some other Horizonites and we made our way to Machu Picchu. It was absolutely incredible and seeing the ruin come out of the early morning mists is something I’m never going to forget.

This trip expanded my view of the world in so many ways. I’ve volunteered before, but never in a way that was so profound. I’ve traveled before, but never to a country where I don’t speak the language. I’ve had adventures before, but never had I seen a man-made wonder of the world with my own eyes. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it, and it all happened because Horizon was awesome enough to support that program and give us the opportunity.

To me Horizon life is being encouraged to raise your hand.