Students in Public Service: Rebuilding Communities and Putting Out Fires
Interview with Rick Potter
The following profile is the second in a series of public service student profiles of our students and alumni at the university.
Job title: Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Pueblo Fire Department in Pueblo, CO
What brought you to branch out with your community work with LIAIM in Bolivia?
Public service is all about helping people that are at a disadvantage. The Love in Action International Ministries (LIAIM) is a nonprofit that helps people in Latin America. LIAIM educates them and teaches them career skills. We make a difference, rather than just providing a handout. LIAIM equips children, as they grow up, to better provide for their families and to create employment opportunities for themselves.
Tell us more about your work in Bolivia.
My wife and I traveled with a team to Guayaramerin, Bolivia to complete numerous construction projects at the Hogar de Andrea de Esperanza e Alegria orphanage. We worked on new construction projects and did repairs and upkeep on other projects. The experience was incredible, and we met a lot of wonderful children who were appreciative of us being there.
I have been fortunate to travel with two different teams. The first time, we worked on house number three, the chapel and the dairy processing plant. In June of 2015, we worked on a leach line at the dairy farm and rebuilt the children’s playground equipment. The team I traveled with raised additional funds to pay for the playground project.
The construction projects are only part of the activities. The teams also get to spend time playing with the kids and loving them. Other projects included cleaning and painting the wall around the orphanage, teaching the women how to quilt, and doing numerous crafts with the children.
The orphanage is home to over 50 children ages 15 and under, who are either orphaned or abandoned by their parents. The plan is for each orphanage to have four houses that will house up to 25 children each.
LIAIM’s vision is to have each orphanage be self-supporting. To accomplish this vision, each orphanage will have a dairy farm, processing plant and fish farm. In addition to the revenue generated by the sale of dairy products, the facilities provide employment opportunities for the children as they grow up. The hope is that soon the first orphanage will not require any support from outside the country and will be self-sustaining.
What are you doing to make a difference in your own community?
I also want to make a difference in the local community and help the citizens in my area by encouraging others to look for ways to have a positive impact. There are many opportunities for people to assist those in need within every community. My goal is to draw attention to those opportunities within my local community.
How has your volunteer work impacted your work in the field?
My charity work made me more sensitive to the entire community and placed a special emphasis on helping reach out to the entire population represented. During my studies at APU, we learned that in many disasters, certain population groups are not being taken care of in a similar fashion. The program at APU pushes students to look at the big picture and how the events impact the entire community.
Will you continue your work with LIAIM?
In addition to continuing to work with LIAIM, my wife and I are looking to help orphanages in the Philippines and Nepal as well. We’re also searching locally for other opportunities in the United States to help children that are displaced and need help.