Heriberto Contreras developed great people skills and an aptitude for entrepreneurship.
Heriberto Contreras was living in Jalisco, Mexico, with his grandparents while his mom and dad were earning a life in the US. There were a couple of attempts to move with his parents to New Rochelle, NY, but Heriberto returned to Mexico when his grandparents passed away.
After an unexpected accident that precluded his parents to move back to Mexico with him, Heriberto found himself alone with his teenage brother. “I remember, when I was in high school, my brother and I resided alone in our house. We had to do our own laundry, cook and clean and we didn’t have the means to pay for our own food and expenses. The only way we managed to survive the day was through nurturing our relationships” says Heriberto.
Our mutually beneficial relationships
It was around this time that Heriberto realized the value of networking. “Our mutually beneficial relationships with neighbors, friends, and the community gave us the opportunity to develop financial independence without having money. We were the contact guys that connected goods and services among people and we also found the best people to get the things our community valued in return.”
As a result, Heriberto developed great people skills, aptitude for entrepreneurship, and a solid network. Heriberto studied two semesters of college and later moved to Yonkers, NY, where he married, became a father of two and finished his education with honors.
In his search to connect with Latinos, he began to work for the Westchester County Office. “The job at the county office opened my eyes,” he says. “It made me realize there are a lot of needs and many services out there. There were many bridges I needed to connect!”
Today, Heriberto is a Regional Director of MVP Health Care, an organization that provides services to members in Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess Counties. Providing affordable health care where and when it’s needed, he builds bridges everywhere he goes.
Leaving his mark
At the celebration of El Dia del Nino on April 30, 2016, at the Centro Hispano in White Plains, Heriberto told me: “I particularly like the Boy Scouts. I have explored many groups and not many of them seek to keep youth engaged and families involved. I learned about them when I saw them in a park. Their fellowship styles appealed to me. They seemed to have fun, but they also looked respectful, honest, ethical, and curious.”
Boy Scouts left a mark on Heriberto and he tried to open a unit in St. Gabriel’s Church in New Rochelle, but despite his efforts, Heriberto couldn’t get the unit off the ground, as parents “were too busy to help” or “they were planning to go back to their countries and didn’t want to engage their boys in long term activities,” Heriberto says.
Much like Heriberto, I’ve personally witnessed how being a Boy Scout or Eagle Scout can impact a young person’s life. Networking skills improve the more Boy Scouts interact with people and the more they connect with others the more their presence leaves a mark.
The simple fact is being a Scout creates a source of wealth, either personal, social, environmental, or economical for young people. Amazingly, this can all start at age six, many years before they graduate and have to make a real effort to go out and formally network. In this way, scouts build the basic platform of networkers and hone these skills before they truly need them.
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