Price Philanthropies is funding the development and operations of a new outreach center in one of the most dangerous and challenging neighborhoods in the world. The Honduras neighborhood of “10 septiembre barrio of the Chamelecón” is located in the city of San Pedro Sula, the second most populous city in Honduras. San Pedro Sula had the highest murder rate in the world in 2013. An August 2nd report in the New York Times tells of the living conditions in Chamelecón. Gangs rule the streets. Families are afraid to leave the neighborhood, even for work or school. Roving gangs demand “war taxes” from residents. Poverty is everywhere.
Price Philanthropies involvement with the outreach center stems from a conversation Price Philanthropies President and CEO Robert Price and his wife Allison had with the United States Department of State on his annual trip to Washington, DC with the Aaron Price Fellows Program (a youth enrichment program for San Diego area high school students). Price discovered many of the unaccompanied minors showing up at U.S. borders looking for amnesty come from San Pedro Sula.
Whether because of mere coincidence or providence, Robert Price is cofounder and chairman of the board for the club warehouse chain Price Smart, and Price Smart has a club located in San Pedro Sula. Through these connections, Price Philanthropies was able to partner with the Honduras Youth Alliance and USAID to secure a donated building from the Vision Ministry to the Nations and open the “Por Mi Barrio” (For My Neighborhood) outreach center in Chamelecón.
Por Mi Barrio will provide a safe place for hundreds of youth to go after school offering tutoring, job skills training, conflict resolution, and volunteer and microenterprise opportunities. The center will also raise awareness and mobilize the community to take care of at-risk youth and reject gang violence.
The Price Philanthropies grant will support Por Mi Barrio operations through May 2015 with the goal that the San Pedro Sula businesses community, non-profits, and governments will provide permanent support. The director of the outreach center expects it will serve more than 500 youth in the first eight months.
The city of San Pedro Sula has been hit hard by a convergence of factors. An influx of Los Angeles street gang members were deported there in the 1990’s, returning to a city that was in the process of losing many of its manufacturing jobs and about to be hit by a devastating hurricane. Compounded by the global recession that still lingers, organized crime has become a driving force for many parents to send their children to the United States seeking a better life. The hope is that centers like Por Mi Barrio will help more children want to stay in their homeland.
United States Ambassador James Nealon attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on September 30 and praised those involved. Also attending were PriceSmart Senior VP of Operations for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Chris Souhrada; PriceSmart Controller Susan Altamirano; PriceSmart Regional Marketing Manager, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Linda Espinoza; and Aprender y Crecer Coordinator for Tegucigalpa, Marjorie Mayr.