“When we learn ontological coaching, we go from seeing the world as painted with a limited palette to seeing it with an array of new colors. It becomes filled with possibilities and hope. Graduates of our programs leave having discovered that their life can be different, better, that they can be happier, and that a conversation is powerful enough to change one’s reality. This feeling is so big in their hearts, that graduates feel that this can’t just be kept for themselves, they must share it.” – Anamaría Pérez, Director of Community and Service, Newfield Latin America
We wanted to learn what motivates the volunteers for Newfield’s Community and Service program in Latin America. This branch of Newfield offers coaching in organizations and environments from orphanages to prisons. The program’s goal is to be of service to the community and bring transformational work to people who would otherwise not have the resources to access it. We asked Anamaria about the work she and the volunteers are doing.
“We began with a handful of graduates volunteering at an addiction recovery center in Chile. Not with the people seeking services but the people providing services. Their job is tough and the progress is slow.” Anamaria said, reflecting on the needs of often over-looked care providers. “We wanted to help them change their view about the work that they were doing, to find the value of process, to show them that the work can be about helping people get to what they can, meeting people where they are rather than imposing a goal.”
As word of their work spread, other institutions started inviting this dedicated group of coaches to volunteer in new places. For example, the program was asked to coach prisoners and staff in a prison. Because of their success there, they were invited to extend their work in other prisons. The program and number of coaches involved grew.
“In the process of coaching at prisons,” she explained, “we come face-to-face with our judgments about people who are imprisoned. But, when we listen as coaches, we know that these are assessments, rather than truths, and when we hear their soul, our preconceptions are transformed, and we can see each other as two human beings on equal footing.”
Anamaría emphasized that this is fundamental to volunteer coaching. “We don’t go with the ‘truth,’ or with the intention of doing charity work because then you try to transform people to make them ‘good’ or ‘better.’ This is not the place that we work from. We learn together, we become friends.”
We were particularly moved by Anamaria’s explanation of her deep motivations for doing and promoting the work of the Community and Service program.
She revealed, “My reason for immersing myself in this work is because I am not happy with the country I am living in (Chile), and the decisions that have been made. I do not approve of the imbalance in the distribution of wealth. I first thought that politics could change things, but then realized it wasn’t possible in my country. At the same time, I feel it is insufficient to just sit here and complain. Each of us can contribute to change in some way and I can do it being a coach. I can influence my country, by offering Newfield distinctions and transformational learning to everyone, and that is what moves me.”
By embracing an emphasis on the individual, coaches can make massive changes in the lives of others and by amplification in the lives of whole communities. Anamaria described the rewards of allowing others to see their own greatness. “In Latin America,” she explained, “we have a lot of poverty, yet people find a way to earn some money here and there. We worked with women who, for example, sell homemade ices in their town or make cookies to sell outside of the train station. What we do, as coaches, are to go and reflect back to these women their light. We show them their worth, their courage, their strength, their dedication to their families. They often do not see value in what they do, so we show them the incredible value of taking limited resources and building a business that is able to feed their family each week. What happens when these women get to see their own greatness is that they are empowered: they find their courage to do other things, they begin to have a voice in their family, to not accept abuse… their dignity appears. It is very moving to me to accompany them in this.”
The Community and Service Branch is thriving in Latin America. It has 120 volunteers who have helped over 700 people. It has 40 service projects in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, and Chile. We are inspired to open a Community and Service Branch in the United States. Does this concept speak to you? We invite graduates that have any ideas or desire to become involved in the birthing of something similar reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.