Finding their Detour
Sep 25, 2013
by Tom Iacuzio, '06
Flagler Enactus students win third national championship
A community focus on projects benefiting the homeless, troubled youths, war veterans and the environment helped Flagler College Enactus win its third national championship.
Enactus, formerly Students in Free Enterprise, will now represent the United States in the Enactus World Cup in Cancun, Mexico, in September.
The Enactus competition in May featured more than 150 chapters from across the country, and was judged by top executives from major U.S. corporations. They evaluated the team’s yearlong community outreach efforts for how successful they were at using business concepts to improve the quality of life and standard of living for those in need.
“Every one of our projects began with a problem in our own backyard,” said Enactus co-adviser Barry Sand. “Our students applied all the skills they learned in the classroom to finding a detour around roadblocks. By changing direction, they were able to solve problems and help the community.”
One of the highlights of their presentation was the Passport Pretzels project, a hybrid job-training program for St. Augustine’s homeless shelter, St. Francis House. Passport Pretzels is a business where shelter residents make pretzels and learn culinary skills that will get them certification in the food service industry. The project provides participants with an immediate source of income and reduces the St. Francis House’s dependency on funding.
Thanks in part to a $70,000 Perkins grant, which Enactus helped to write, the team also partnered with the St. Johns Juvenile Correctional Facility to create a cable certification program providing the opportunity for the youths to be certified in copper, telecommunications and fiber optic cabling. These new skill sets can help participants land a job that pays $15 to $50 an hour.
“Through this program the boys are gaining hands-on experience,” said Jovie Reeves, co-president of Enactus with Estefania Mones. “It was such an amazing experience to feel their excitement and be able to congratulate them on a job well done.”
“For a little college to win the regional championship, and then go on to win the national championship is pretty extraordinary,” said Flagler President William T. Abare Jr. “Enactus does a lot of good for the communities that they serve and help in some way.”
Enactus is an international nonprofit organization active on more than 1,500 university campuses in 39 countries. Enactus teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on market economics, entrepreneurship, personal financial skills and business ethics.
Google, Walmart, General Electric, Lowes, Aflac, Disney and Home Depot are among the companies that employ Flagler Enactus graduates.
Plastic bags litter beaches and kill wildlife. Flagler Enactus worked with the city of St. Augustine on a community-wide initiative called Make History to eliminate single-use plastic bags. The Enactus reusable bag displays local history and is now an official part of St. Augustine’s 450th Anniversary Celebration. The city has declared Sept. 17 Make History Day to support the green initiative.
Joblessness leads to homelessness. St. Francis House, a homeless shelter in St. Augustine, did not have funds to provide job training for its residents. So Enactus developed Passport Pretzels as a hybrid job-training program. Participants make pretzels while learning culinary skills that give them food industry certification. The business provides participants with education, life skills and income while reducing the St. Francis House’s dependency on diminishing federal and state funding.
Comrades in Farms
It is estimated one-in-three veterans has post-traumatic stress disorder. Many are without work, living on disability and struggling to get by. Working with Veterans Farm in Jacksonville, Fla., Enactus is helping supplement their disability income with revenue from a farm business. Veterans are given a parcel of land, grow produce and sell an exclusive line of products developed by Flagler Enactus.
The young men at foster care home St. Augustine Youth Services are required to leave at 18. Most are headed for minimum-wage jobs. Enactus challenged the boys by starting an eco-friendly soap company, Soapy Tales. Running a soap business taught them that it takes teamwork, discipline and determination to succeed. The young men are now in control of their lives and better able to make the transition from the group home to independent living.
In the U.S., two out of three prisoners released return in less than a year. Joblessness is the leading cause of recidivism. Many of the 80 young men housed at the St. Johns Juvenile Correctional Facility had no job skills and an uncertain future. Enactus developed the Cable Ready program to provide certification in copper, telecommunications and fiber optic cabling. These skills give participants the opportunity to get a job in a rapidly growing industry that pays up to $35 an hour.