Everyday Hero: Helping students become teachers

Amway IBO Skip Vincent is one of Amway's Everyday Heroes.

After 37 years of military service, Edwin A. “Skip” Vincent retired from the Hawaii National Guard as Brigadier General headed for a quiet retirement on the island where he grew up.

But a quiet retirement wasn’t meant to be: Skip, who is also an Amway Independent Business Owner, kept getting requests to share his knowledge and train people. So many requests, in fact, that he started a company just for that purpose.

Then he learned about a program that allowed him to use profits from his business specifically to help underserved native communities in Hawaii.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Skip said. “I like being able to give back. So, I started the nonprofit after I retired in 2010 and I’ve been going gangbusters ever since.”

In response to the global health crisis, everyday people like Skip became Everyday Heroes – and Amway is celebrating their stories. From sacrificing time with their families to sewing hundreds of face masks, these Everyday Heroes gave of themselves to serve and bring joy to others during trying times.

Nonprofit grows to help community

Known as the Hawaii Pacific Foundation, Skip’s nonprofit has grown substantially in the last decade. Today, the foundation has four companies whose profits go toward helping local people. The foundation provides health, education and social services to strengthen families, foster learning and cultivate leadership for native Hawaiians.

One of the foundation’s programs, called Grow-Our-Own, is addressing chronic teacher shortages in West O’ahu by steering local students to careers in education. More than that, it helps these students stay in school, graduate from college and return to the area as teachers themselves.

Within the next year, 65 graduates of the University of Hawaii West O’ahu will be teaching in their own communities.

“Most of these kids are the first person in their family to go to college,” Skip said. “We started programs for them while they were still in high school to help prepare them for college. Little by little, we’ve been putting teachers back into the schools.”

The Hawaii-Pacific Foundation logo, which is a green circle with a white leaf inside.

Need for computers, internet access for online classes

While progress is being made to solve the teacher shortage, another problem arose as COVID-19 started to spread globally. When the University of Hawaii shifted classes online during the pandemic, some of the Grow-Our-Own students didn’t have computers or internet access at home.

“We talked with the university and asked what we could do,” Skip said. “They told us they needed computers for the students so these kids could still attend class.”

The foundation donated about 70 laptops so the students could continue taking classes online. In some cases, it meant students were able to finish their studies, graduate from the University of Hawaii and become teachers.

Rewarding and inspiring

Skip finds it extremely rewarding to help students go to college and make a difference with the teacher shortage in his home state.

“Some of the kids have come from very difficult circumstances, so getting thank you letters and notes from them is just phenomenal,” he said. “It makes me feel like we’re contributing something; that we’re doing something right. It’s an amazing feeling.”

You can read more great stories at Amway Connections about Amway IBOs, philanthropic partners and employees who lead with their hearts and are taking positive action during the pandemic.

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