Continental Fresh's Albert Perez Discusses BLUE Missions Group and Giving Back
- by Jordan Okumura
CORAL GABLES, FL - The human side of produce—this is how Albert Perez, CEO and Grower Relations, with Continental Fresh LLC describes his personal passion for making a difference, and fueling those in the fresh produce industry to exercise their passions as well. Quite literally.
“In 1983 and 1984, as a high school junior and senior, I went on a high school service trip to the Dominican Republic. I had never really been outside the country and thought that the way I lived in Miami was the way everyone lived. It was an eye-opening experience. I discovered that the way I lived was actually the exception and not the way that the majority of the world lives,” Albert shares with me. “Discovering that 600 million people live without clean water and finding out that I could do something about it prompted me to found LIFO Missions in 1985. Since then, we have focused on helping some of the poorest people improve their living conditions, and consequently, their education, health, and future prospects. For the last 35 years, LIFO volunteers have built aqueducts in poor villages to provide running water in places where it has never been available.”
As Albert tells me, there is something magical that happens when a town receives water for the first time. Once children in a town are freed from having to walk, often barefoot, several kilometers to a stream to bring buckets of water back for their mothers to cook and clean, the world opens up.
“They can go to school, get educated, and get ahead. The health and hygiene of the entire family improves,” he says.
If you can glean anything from this story so far, you know that Albert, and the people that he surrounds himself with, only see challenges as opportunities—and people as the vehicle for change. 10 years ago, Danny Rodriguez—one of the young volunteers that had participated on three consecutive years of Albert’s LIFO trips—said he wanted to do more and asked if Albert could help him start his own organization. That was the birth of BLUE Missions Group which has evolved into a full-time, nationwide effort to create student service trips to assist water and sanitation projects in Latin America.
“What started with one yearly project and a few volunteers has now developed into over 30 projects and 600 volunteers in 2019 and a target of 45 projects and 900 volunteers in 2020,” Albert reflects. “Although BLUE’s focus is to end the global water and sanitation crisis, we also focus heavily on facilitating authentic immersion experiences that motivate today’s youth to go out and change the world. We are molding global citizens who will take on some of the world’s biggest challenges. BLUE volunteers are the future leaders and problem solvers of our generation. “
Albert’s role as the BLUE Missions Group Board or Directors President is to be a cheerleader, mentor, fundraiser, and promoter of this great cause. And boy, does he have an opportunity to share, and it is not too late! Did someone say the Caribbean? Here are the deets:
- Trek to the top of Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the Caribbean, with BLUE Missions to provide families in the Dominican Republic with access to clean water and sanitation.
- Hike 3-days across 27.6 miles of tropical and pine forests to the summit of Pico Duarte, at 10,128 ft. above sea level.
- Travel to a community that BLUE has worked with to overcome the water crisis and spend a few hours connecting with the locals. Then spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach.
- There are two scheduled treks that are still open to those who wish to attend: Nov 29 – Dec 4 and Feb 24 – Feb 29.
- Fundraising Commitment: Each hiker commits to raise $250 in addition to the cost of their trip towards water and sanitation projects.
Curious about more or feelin' the call, check out more here.
BLUE Missions will help you with fundraising, providing a personalized website and fundraising kit. You will be required to complete a Fundraising Agreement to participate on the expedition.
“I’ve never been the brightest guy in the room, but I have often times been the most fortunate. Doing the right thing has always brought me great blessings. I’m not about to change that formula now,” Albert expresses.
It goes without saying that this industry has heart. But I will say it again, and time and time again, as long as there are stories like these to tell and opportunities like this to cherish.