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The Inspiration for Centenary Enactus' Hope Leaf Project Visits the Institution

10/15/2013, 11:47 AM

Hackettstown, N.J. – Ricardo Gomez, the founder of Fundacion Pacifico del Cauca, and the inspiration behind the Centenary Enactus Hope Leaf Project, visited the Hackettstown campus recently. It was his first visited to the United States in seven years. 

Gomez, who was named Role Model of the Year by El Colombiano newspaper, was born and raised in Colombia.  He earned his Master’s degree in the United States and worked in this country for over 20 years, living in Basking Ridge before returning to Colombia to live in Guapi, an area that suffers from extreme poverty. He runs his foundation there, as well as a tutoring center for students who live in that area.

Professor Kathy Naasz, Associate Professor of Business at Centenary College and Director of Centenary College Enactus, was looking for projects for her team in Fall 2011, when a friend suggested that she reach out to Gomez.  After viewing pictures of Guapi, the professor and students noticed wood chips laying on the ground, an unfortunate by-product of the deforestation of the rainforest.  Prof. Naasz thought to give the scraps of wood a new life, in the form of pendants, and a social business was born.

As a result of the Centenary Enactus team working with these students for a year and a half, six local artisans have been able to double their standard of living and additional profits were re-invested into the tutoring center that Gomez runs.  “It is hard to stay focused on a long-term goal, like education, when your stomach is empty due to lack of income,” says Professor Naasz. “Launching the Hope Leaf jewelry business gave the artisans esteem in their lives, moving them away from dependence on charity and into self-reliance. This particular project fills both the bellies of the artisans and their families and the minds of the students because the profits are directly invested into education at the tutoring center.”

“Working with Professor Naasz has been so rewarding because we have enabled six people to have a better quality of life,” says Gomez.  “As a result of our involvement, these people now have a steady income.”

More information can be found at tinyurl.com/hopeleaf.

About Enactus
Enactus is a community of students, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world.

About Centenary College
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary
College is an independent, coeducational liberal arts and career studies college
distinguished by an accomplished faculty, small class size and diverse student body.  Centenary is the only baccalaureate and master’s degree granting institution in northwest
New Jersey.

Centenary College’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary College School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.  The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.