A Journey of Giving
Imagine leaving the luxuries of Miami to arrive on the other side of the world in Kathmandu after a grueling 40-hour journey spanning five countries. With very little sleep, you immediately embark on the final leg of your journey through tortuous mountain roads to deliver hundreds of pounds of supplies to children in need.
If you ask Jorge Gateno why he makes this trek twice a year, he’ll tell you it’s simply a desire to help.
“I’ve always been around an environment where I can help out,” explains Jorge, who manages the Metro PCS account on the East Coast and Great Lakes for Samsung. “I always had a home. I always had love. And for me, it was always about giving back and just helping others that are less fortunate.”
Jorge has always been the kind of kid who liked to help, but it was one incident in particular that sparked his passion for helping others.
Volunteering with a rescue organization as a 13-year-old after Hurricane Andrew, Jorge saw a frantic woman in search of penicillin. Her husband was in dire need of it, but the people in charge told her she had to wait in line. Seeing how desperate she was, Jorge simply went to where they had the medicine, put some in his pocket, and gave it to her. The woman returned the next morning to thank him with a big hug.
Jorge has been collecting hugs of gratitude ever since.
After joining Samsung seven years ago, many of those hugs have come through the nonprofit he created with a handful of friends called Friends for Global Change (FFGC). They picked Nepal because other than the opportunity to give back, they saw it as a learning opportunity. They knew nothing about it at the time, he explained, other than Mount Everest being there.
As they learned about the extreme poverty and the high number of homeless children stemming from the local culture of abandoning children from a prior marriage when entering a new one, the focus of their organization became clear: helping children in need.
Since then, FFGC has collected and distributed more than 3,500 pounds of clothes, shoes, toys and other supplies to support the education and health of children across Nepal and Haiti. But Jorge’s heart for giving doesn’t beat just for international communities. He also finds time for organizations that serve his local community of South Florida.
“Putting smiles on people’s faces, that’s the biggest reward I can have,” says Jorge, who comes from humble beginnings.
As the son of a single mom from Peru who came to the U.S. with very little, putting herself through the University of Miami while taking care of him and working multiple jobs, Jorge knows how everyone has the capacity to give in more ways than one.
“No matter in what situation you are,” he says, “there’s always gonna be others that have less than you.”
One example of that which stands out in his mind is a beggar he came across in Nepal. One of Jorge’s friends wanted to give him some money, but their guide stopped him saying, “Tell him that you’re hungry and see what happens.”
What happened was the beggar took out the money he had collected, divided it in half and offered it to Jorge’s friend. Experiences like that, “just inspire me to keep helping as much as I can.”