Exercising Compassion Turns a Simple Piece of Wood into a Profound Impact

Alfonso and his family have been in carpentry for over 30 years. Three years ago, right in the middle of the pandemic, their office was destroyed by a fire. Instead of seeing the fire as a setback, they viewed it as an opportunity to improve their business.  

Alfonso envisioned having a successful business where employees thrived. When the family started the business, they employed between 30 and 40 people. Now, there are over 100. “Our main goal is to find where everyone benefits: the employee, family, and environment. If we provide the best conditions, we expect that they [the employees] replicate it with their environment and thus, little by little, create a positive change in the community.”

The seed of helping was planted in Alfonso a long time ago. He has volunteered with a local parish group dedicated to helping children and teenagers for the last four years. “I just want to do my part in society to help; I want to assume my responsibility as an entrepreneur to change the work and life conditions of the people from Juarez.”

Alfonso donated the wooden crates used for a woodworking workshop we gave at a shelter we support. “The idea of ​​creating these wooden crates started because we saw we had a lot of good material we did not want to waste. Then, we discovered the opportunity to do something useful and be able to help those who need it. We never thought about doing them to obtain more economic benefits. On the contrary, we wanted to help others,” Alfonso explained.

When Alfonso donated the wooden boxes to our project, he was exercising compassion. Unlike empathy, where you take on someone’s emotions as your own, with compassion, you take notice of someone’s feelings and offer comfort. Compassion fuels social connection because it motivates you to reach out to others when you see them in pain. By acknowledging their suffering, you make them feel seen. 

Although Hector, Ramon, and Jose are in their sixties, they want to continue working. Exercising compassion, Alfonso invited them to participate in our woodworking workshop so they could feel useful. They created the wooden boxes we taught migrants at the shelter to sand and paint. At first, the three gentlemen did not know how the wooden boxes would be used. But once they saw the photos of the boxes painted by migrants and heard how much fun people had as they learned something new, Hector, Ramon, and Jose were very pleased that something they did help someone else. This is a benefit of showing compassion: helping others lessens our own feelings of helplessness.

“For me, the situation with the migrants is very complicated. They have many needs and only receive criticism that “they don’t want to do anything” when the majority are very hard-working people or just looking for a better life. I’m part of a migrant family in a certain way,” Alfonso reflected before continuing. “They decided to come here looking for a better future, so I am thrilled to support them because I feel identified. I understand that sometimes it is easy not to want to see how delicate their situation is. I know there is no simple answer or solution, but I’m sure we have to do something to help. We cannot sit idly by.” Alfonso concluded.

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