He escaped poverty to live a life giving back to others. Francisco Ramirez is an after-school program manager teaching at-risk students the importance of service.
Ramirez is an after-school program manager for buildOn. The organization teams up with schools across the city giving students a way to give back to their communities. He often works with students from underprivileged families.
And poverty is something Ramirez can relate to. When he was 4-years-old, he and his family moved to the U.S. from Mexico. He grew up in a 3-bedroom home that he shared with 16 other people.
But he fought hard to overcome adversity and used his life experience to help others.
As a teenager, he got his start volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Then while as a college student at Notre Dame, a volunteer trip to a migrant shelter in Mexico changed his life.
"That service opportunity empowered me to think i could make a difference in other people’s lives,” he says.
In 2012, Ramirez began working for buildOn.
"I've never seen this as a job. Its my passion, its my calling,” he says.
Ramirez's after-school projects go far beyond Chicago.
Last spring, he and a group of his students trekked all the way to Nicaragua to build a school.
It was a once in a lifetime experience for many of them.
It’s his confidence in his students that make him both a role model and a friend.
Francisco Ramirez, he's one of Chicago's Very own.
BuildOn hass teamed up with 10 Chicago high schools – and since 2005, students have logged nearly 250,000 hours of volunteering. For more info, log on to: http://www.buildon.org/