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Experiences that change lives

March 16, 2009




Strength, work, partnership and initiative—characteristics of corporate volunteerism.

In November of 2008, Delta Air Lines and Habitat for Humanity Chile joined forces to benefit twelve families from the community of Casablanca, in Region V of Chile.

José Ernesto Alvarenga, Delta Chile’s regional director of the Reservations Department for Latin America and Caribbean Reservations, was one of the participants in the project Building Homes without Borders. More than 60 Delta volunteers traveled from the United States—using their vacation time—to collaborate with some of the neediest members of Chilean society.

In a pleasant conversation, José Ernesto accounted with great conviction how the experience has marked his life. “To give a little of what we have been blessed with is a moral requirement that reflects and contributes to our formation as better human beings,” he explains.




Happiness is not just a question of money. Actions and programs, like the one José Ernesto participated in, show us that multiple dreams can be fulfilled with our help.

Delta Air Lines collaborates consistently with Habitat for Humanity in different parts of the world, incentivizing its members to “build homes without borders.” As José Ernesto tells us: “It is incredible to see the strength of the Delta employees, the initiative of wanting to help a family in need, the comradery between coworkers—not only from Chile, but also from different cities in the United States. It strengthens confidence and generates an improved feeling upon returning to the office.”

Building until very late, waking up the next day at 6:30 a.m. with recharged energy and the objective to continue with the construction and do it well, contemplating how everything is a process—from putting up the roof to painting the walls—in which the greatest satisfaction is to see the families’ smiles and tears of hope, mothers who nether thought they would have a home, and children who finally have an adequate place to live.




José Ernesto could feel that the bonds with the families transcend the construction, and raising his gaze, remember with a smile an anecdote that filled his hears. He told us: “While working, a construction team saw the youngest son of María, one of the mothers of the project, playing with bicycle that was in bad shape. The wheels were broken, the metal rusty, but the child continued playing with it, and all you could see in his face were moments of happiness. It was then that a group of volunteers decided to get in the car and find a bicycle shop. Upon returning with the unexpected gift, the child ran to his new friends, and with a big hug and a kiss said, ‘I hope God give us more,’ and immediately ran off to play with his new bike.”

This is how the strength, hope, hard work and partnership can be seen in the eyes of those who participated in this corporate volunteerism event, and strengthened by the words that José Ernesto left us with: “This is only the beginning. Everyone can help, and for my part, I will become an ambassador of the beautiful experience that has improved my life.”

If you would like more information or to participate through donations and volunteerism, please visit:

By Diego Apolo Buenaño, Communications staff for Habitat for Humanity Chile.

Pictures courtesy of Habitat Chile—all corresponding to the event “Building Homes Without Borders”:
Mrs. Hada Soza and family
Delta volunteer, José Ernesto Alvarenga
Sandra Yañez and daughter