From Pennsylvania to Bolivia!! How the Penn State Altoona Enactus Club Helped an Orphanage During Spring Break

The Penn State Altoona Enactus Club members recently spent their spring break over in Guayaramerín, Bolivia, to help an orphanage open up a coffee shop for the local citizens.

The six students and two faculty members stayed at Andreas Home For Hope And Joy and were there as business students to help with cost analysis of the potential new shop.

“We looked at where their target market would be, if they were in a good location (and if) Brazilians that come across the river to shop at this market near by would be willing to even come stop there, as well as how much a normal citizen of Bolivia would spend on certain products,” said Penn State Altoona sophomore Elissa Calhoun.  

Photo submitted by Elissa Calhoun

The profits of the shop will benefit the orphanage and would provided the owners with a sustainable income and “it would also give the older students of the orphanage the ability to develop not only a strong work ethic but some marketable skills,” said Calhoun.

The biggest problem the Penn State students found during their trip was that many Bolivians don’t drink hot coffee so the students had to reassess the products that this shop would sell. They found that the Bolivians enjoyed smoothies and other cold drinks that they could sell in place of the hot coffee. The profits for these kinds of drinks are feasible and Calhoun said that now “It’s just a matter of them getting the shell up and figuring out where to go from there.”

This was the club’s first trip to Bolivia and the members plan to make annual returns to the site to help the owners Gary and Jerri Zimmerman of Love In Action International Ministries with other projects.

Photo submitted by Elissa Calhoun

“There’s a lot of opportunities so whether or not it’s focusing on this cafe right now there’s a lot that our organization can still do

with them,” said Calhoun.

The Enactus club members will also present their research at the Enactus National Exposition in Kansas City, Miss on May 20 along with their other projects they’ve worked on this year called Jazzed About Java, Trash to Table, and Don’t waste it! Compost it!.


‘Not So Despacito, Please:’ Penn State Altoona Joins the Hurricane Relief Effort for Puerto Rico

By Michelle Thompson

Since late August, a series of hurricanes have been tearing through the Atlantic Ocean, affecting southeastern America and the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria, the most recent of the six-storm string of hurricanes, has become of particular interest, due to its impact on the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

In the last days of September, Maria bombarded Puerto Rican citizens with flash floods, deadly winds, and at one point, left every single one of the island’s 3.4 million residents without power as reported by Business Insider. According to USA Today and Newsweek reports, still only 45 percent of those residents have access to clean drinking water, an estimated 10,000 residents were left homeless, and according to the Miami Herald, the death toll has still yet to be officially released. Other updates of the aftermath in Puerto Rico reported by Newsweek include a potentially life-threatening dam that has been weakened by mudslides and flooding, lack of resources like gasoline and electricity, and the destruction of crops.  

Hurricane Relief donation boxes in Aaron Building downtown

Here at Penn State Altoona, a resource donation effort was started by three Penn State affiliated organizations. Two are Puerto Rican undergraduate/graduate student associations, PRSA and Boricua Grads, and the third is an entrepreneurial-based leadership organization, Penn State Altoona Enactus. Vice President of Communications for Penn State Altoona Enactus, Cristina Ortiz, gave her personal connection to the relief effort.

“The connection PSUA Enactus has to the situation in Puerto Rico is through me. I am Puerto Rican and my extended family lives on the island,” said Ortiz. “I encouraged Penn State Altoona Enactus to partner with two organizations at University Park, the Puerto Rican Student Association and Boricua Grads, to aid in their hurricane relief donation effort.”

Ortiz said she personally drove the first shipment of donations to University Park last Friday, where they were sorted and driven to Reading Pennsylvania to be put in a cargo shipment container en route for the southeast region of Puerto Rico.

List of recommended items to donate

Yolian Amaro-Rivera, the president of Boricua Grads, said the first round of donations was met with a lot of support. It was successful enough, in fact, that the relief effort was able to be extended, allowing for a second shipment of donations to be made in mid-October.

“We definitely received a lot more than we expected,” she said. “We had a large van full of donations and we even had to leave some for the second shipment because we couldn’t fit them all.”

Drop boxes for donation essentials like first aid kits, non-perishable food items, clothing, deodorant, diapers, flashlights, and much more can be found in the lobbies of Slep Student Center, Sheetz Health Center, and the Aaron Building downtown until October 13.