|The magazine of University of Houston-Clear Lake
Fall 2013/Winter 2014 | volume 20 | number 1
The Difference an Hour can Make
Being “too busy” isn’t an excuse you’ll hear from UHCL alumnus Johnny Galaviz. Even with a full-time job, Galaviz always makes time to volunteer with many different organizations, one of which led to him receiving The City of Houston Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office “Mentor of the Year” award.
Following his 2007 graduation from UHCL with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Galaviz quickly shifted his focus from student to mentor, taking on his first “Financial Education” workshop with the Skills 4 Living organization, a nonprofit organization that aims to help youth be better prepared for adulthood. His position as a senior financial services representative at First Investors Corporation helps provide him with financial knowledge others can benefit from knowing.
Galaviz saw the need for positive influences for high school students years ago when he noticed how different his home life was than that of many of his peers.
“When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to have both my parents encourage me throughout my youth,” says Galaviz. “My parents’ main goal was not only to provide us with care and love; it was to see us do well in life. My intentions are to give back to others what my parents gave to me, even if it’s a small piece at a time.”
Much of Galaviz’s volunteerism focuses around giving Houston’s youth the opportunity to learn real-life lessons such as how to get a job, buy a home, and create a budget, as well as encouraging them to finish high school so that they may have the opportunity to attend college.
When he isn’t at his office, Galaviz commits himself to several organizations, including the UHCL Alumni Association Executive Council and The City of Houston Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office – Citywide Mentoring Initiative. As vice-chair for the Alumni Association Executive Council, Galaviz commits himself to helping UHCL students to be successful after graduation. Through his volunteer work with the university’s Office of Career Services, he is able to help students with résumé writing and workshops that better prepare them for a career in the finance and marketing fields.
Galaviz dedicates anywhere from two to 10 hours a week to volunteerism, depending upon the need within the organizations and his schedule.
“Although some of us might truly be too busy to volunteer, others might just not understand what’s expected or have mixed feelings about the commitment that is ahead,” says Galaviz. “If you can only give an hour a week or an hour a month, let it be known. An hour a week could potentially impact an eternity.”
The City of Houston Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office – Citywide Mentoring Initiative aims to prevent the youth of East Houston from falling into gang activity by providing positive role models and promoting activities that allow them to reach their greatest potential. Mentors make a one-year commitment that entails at least one hour of contact with their mentee each week, whether it be in person, phone or online.
Being a mentor is an intimidating idea for many people, but working with this program doesn’t require extensive hours nor does it require volunteers to have impressive educational backgrounds; they simply must want to make a difference and have a passion for what they’re trying to accomplish in the lives of these young people.
“I have been a part of the mentoring program for about three years now,” says Galaviz, “and look forward to working closely with my mentee into his high school years.”
“It doesn’t have to be anything big. Having lunch with them at school or even just a text asking how they’re doing goes a long way,” says Galaviz, of being a mentor. “One time we drove around just looking for an ice cream shop. We just spend time together.”
In the past, the program was open only to students in grades six through eight, but this year the program opened its doors to children all the way through high school. These children are moving from elementary school, where they are the oldest, to middle school and junior high, a place where older, sometimes negative, influences exist.
This change will allow Galaviz to work with his 14-year-old mentee, who he was paired with a year ago, all the way through his high school years, and hopefully throughout college as well.
Being awarded “Mentor of the Year” represents not only the time and effort that Galaviz has dedicated to helping others but also is a true symbol of the selflessness that it takes to see a problem in the community and strive to solve it.
“I know that I can’t help everybody,” says Galaviz, “but even if I can make a difference in just one life, that would be enough.”
Maintained By: Office of Communications
© 2014 University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058