“She raised me to where I am now.”
“She” is Sergio Ramirez’ grandmother. Wherever they moved over the years — and those moves happened a lot — they always had each other. Where he is now is, well, “somewhat of an adult.” At least that’s how he puts it when he takes a moment to reflect on the recent changes in his life. Of course, there’s nothing somewhat about it.
Sergio has bright eyes and a laugh that punctuates his words with life. Before joining Starbucks, he was one of nearly a million Opportunity Youth in Canada — young people not in education, employment or training. Some call them “NEET.” But Sergio wanted goals to work towards, to grow and gain his independence. He just needed the right opportunity.
Sergio found it at an Opportunity For All Youth (O4AY) hiring fair in his hometown of Calgary. O4AY is a coalition of Canadian businesses committed to hiring 40,000 people like him over the next five years in order to address what they call a “quiet crisis.” All it took was a short conversation for Michelle, a supervisor at his local Starbucks, to see Sergio’s potential. He quickly became Starbucks newest partner.
So what changes when we’re given an opportunity? Little things with huge impact. Sergio can contribute rent for the home he shares with his grandmother. Now it’s the longest they’ve ever stayed in one place. The once-shy Calgarian finds himself not only connecting with strangers but making new friends.
And with the support Starbucks provides, university is back on Sergio’s horizon. “I still want to pursue social work or something like that, right? Because I like helping people. I had a lot of people helping me in life to get me to where I am now, so I want to try to give that back to someone.”
Sergio’s grandmother is still looking out for him, but now he has another person focused on his future:
“I see myself growing a lot. I can grow myself from here.”