Stewart Fries is a member of the Board of Directors for GOCARE. He brings his professional and philanthropic skills to bear in his activities that involve developing educational programs for use in the front lines of this war on poverty. Stewart is a partner at Sorenson & Associates, a certified public accounting firm in Solvang, Calif., where he specializes in public accounting, management consulting, business valuations and tax preparation. On a philanthropic basis, Stewart is very active in Rotary International, Viking Charities, the Solvang Friendship House, and the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation.
In 2011, Stewart successfully adapted the Rotary International youth leadership program called “RYLA” (Rotary Youth Leadership Academy) for presentation to students of Pantanal, one of the neediest communities in Nicaragua. The weekend retreat, sponsored by GOCARE, is called “Academia de Liderazgo de la Juventud” (ALJ), and is focused on leadership skills and diversity training for 16-17 year old students. Both classroom instruction and hands-on practice sessions are presented by qualified Nicaraguan instructors. In the first year, participation was limited to 60 students all from Pantanal.
In subsequent years, GOCARE has partnered with Rotary Clubs throughout Nicaragua to sponsor selected students from a wide variety of communities. Of the 104 attendees in 2013, twelve were selected by local Rotary Clubs, the remainder were selected by the GOCARE staff from within the highly impoverished communities the organization works with. “The kids that participate learn to maximize their leadership abilities and come to realize that everyone has a role in social and business interaction,”
Fries is now turning his attention to the young adult community. He is busy planning a “Conceptos básicos de la empresa” - “Basic Business Concepts” (BBC) series of classes to be offered in various barrios around the country. The idea is to provide a series of seminars, one building upon another, to provide young adults some basic business skills they could use to secure employment and take the first step up the economic ladder.
While the resources available through GOCARE have been generously provided, additional help is needed to supplement these new programs. “Since many of the people I know would proverbially give you the shirts off their own backs, I’m developing the idea of forming a fundraising program called ‘Shirt Off Your Back’ from which funding can be used to subsidize additional ALJ and BBC classes,” said Fries.
GOCARE Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity headquartered in Ventura, Calif. Throughout its tenure, GOCARE Inc. has worked closely with local residents and communities to create and implement educational, health and economic development programs into its curriculum, including adult education through reading and math, pre-school, day care, computer instruction, English instruction and vocational training.
GOCARE Inc. is a legal nongovernmental organization that has been recognized by the Nicaragua Ministry of Education as an exemplary model for adult education courses. To date, GOCARE Inc. has helped more than 1,300 students graduate from its programs with the core philosophy of the “Come Back to Give Back” mentorship and leadership. While pursuing college degrees, students become mentors and leaders within their Nicaraguan communities and help “give back” by teaching others to assist them out of extreme poverty into a bright, successful future.
For more information about GOCARE Inc. or to make a donation, please call 805-650-5915 or visit www.gocarekids.org.
Denise Bean-White, ext. 111
Brooke Lubel, ext. 117