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Youth Believing in Change Operations Manager Homero Perez knows that a good education can help a student soar in life. A veteran of the Peace Corps, Homero was a national champion in Power Lifting in college, and now lifts up the young students he works with by believing in them.

Homero Perez was born in Laredo, Texas and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma and moved back to Texas in 1986. He grew up with eight siblings, attended Lawton High School and dreamed of being rich one day.

Of course, that meant he needed an education, so he went to college at Cameron University in Lawton, and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a minor in Marketing.   He went on to the University of North Texas, where he continued his studies in Art, but after two years he opted to leave for management opportunities. In addition, over the years, he has had courses in Conflict Resolution, Diversity Awareness, Front-Line Supervisory Skills, Emergency Management Readiness, Effective Communication and Steven Covey’s Seven Steps to Highly Effective People.

All that training is helpful when you are running an afterschool program that enrolls 250 children from age three to 17.

Homero’s previous work with AmeriCorps also comes in handy, as he has to recruit, retain and supervise eight teachers and dozens of volunteer tutors from all walks of life.  His most recent position was working with the Corporation for National Community Service, a federal job that included designing the grant review process  to decide which programs to fund.

But he grew tired of pushing paper and wanted to work with people, so took a new position as Operations Manager for Youth Believing in Change, an after school program that helps public school children complete their homework in a safe setting. In addition to school work, the children are bussed in from their nine different schools in two different school districts, DISD and Richardson ISD, and each are provided with a hot meal before they go home.  Homero oversees every aspect of the program, from making sure the buses are in good running condition to checking the correct water-to-Pine-Sol cleaner ratio so the floors are correctly cleaned. He’s typically the first person in the door and the last to leave at the end of the day.

His hard work ethic comes from a life of training.

What few people today know is that back in 1986 he won a National Collegiate Powerlifting Competition at the 198-weight class. Training for it meant he spent hours in the gym, dead lifting up to 605 pounds. “I’ve had many surgeries since then, because that kind of weight ruins your back and knees and takes a toll on your entire body.” He still works out to keep in shape, and you’ll rarely see him sitting behind a desk.

He met his wife, Agustina Erices, while they worked to teach each-other their language in Chile where he was a Peace Corps Volunteer.

They have two sons, Homero III, 18, and Ignacio, 16. Like his father, Homero III is in college to further his education and grow up to be successful. He also helps at the family’s thrift store in Garland, pricing items and selling them on line to supplement the family’s income.

Homero considers his job more than just punching a time clock, he feels it’s an investment in our country’s future.  He believes that even if he can help just one child, that child can go on to help others. He says, “If one child--with the proper foundation--can make this community a different, more positive place, 100 children with the proper foundation can change the world.”

He says his favorite memory of YBC is “Seeing (YBC Executive Director) Pastor Gaddis Start it up 22 years ago.” That was when Vince Gaddis was a part of the Federal program, Americorps.  Homero was basically his boss back then while working with the Greater Dallas Community of Churches. Over the decades, the two men kept in touch, so when Homero wanted to get back working with children, the two were reunited.

The YBC program has grown since it’s humble beginnings in a local park. A permanent building was purchased years ago, to expand to help more than 250 children each month. Homero would love to be able to hire five more teachers to help 100 more students after school each day. In the summer, the children arrive at 8:00 a.m. and are there for a full day.

Homero believes an educated child is one that can reach new heights, and maybe even become an astronaut. After all, Homero was born in an impoverished area of Laredo, but through education and hard work as a Federal Employee, has gotten to meet and shake the hand of astronaut John Glenn, several Senators, several members of Congress, President George W. Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama. He says simply of these experiences, “It was nice.”

If he had free time he might get back into creating art, a hobby of his that’s been neglected. For now, he’ll continue to inspire young artists, and astronauts, and teachers to grow up to be all they can be.

Homero believes Youth Believing in Change is the change-agent that can promote a struggling student to the next grade, making a low-performing student into one that soars.

 

Youth Believing in Change (YBC) is a 501©3 non-profit after school program located on Stults Road in Lake Highlands. It is free for children ages 3 to 17. Volunteers are always welcome.

Scouts needing an Eagle Scout project are encouraged to contact YBC. Church groups and individuals are welcome to come and tutor the students from 4:30 to 5:30. Donations are also welcome. Pencils, notebook paper and boxes of tissues are always welcome.

For more information on Youth Believing in Change or to donate, see the website: www.ybcdallas.org

Or contact the office at 214-692-9242 or e-mail program director Angela Gaddis at angela@ybcdallas.org

YBC has an annual dinner, An Evening of Change, May 4, 2017 from 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. at Highland Park Presbyterian Church (Elliott Hall) — 3821 University Boulevard, Dallas, 75205. This year's keynote speaker is the new Dallas District Attorney, Faith Johnson. The public is invited to attend. For tickets or more information call 214-692-9242.

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