Inform. Act. These two simple but strong words emphasize the importance of becoming educated on our community’s social issues and acting to make change. During this month’s LSA Social Responsibility class day, class members not only were educated on the issues but demonstrated opportunities to give back to the San Antonio community.

Class members began the day at the San Antonio Public Safety Headquarters where they were greeted by SAPD Chief William McManus and SAFD Chief Charles Hood. Both men remarked on the latest improvements to their respective agencies, as well as the importance of community involvement in helping stop crime within the city.

Next on the agenda was a panel discussion on the recent increase in human trafficking in the San Antonio area. The class was able to hear from three experts in the area about the local, regional and federal implications of this modern form of slavery.  Panelists Kirsta Melton, Assistant Criminal District Attorney with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office; Sgt. Bill Grayson, with the  Special Victims Unit of SAPD; and Asst. Special Agent Fred Hollenbeck, Jr., with the SA Homeland Security Investigation Office for Immigration & Customs Enforcement; expanded on this crime and how it affects all citizens. ADA Melton specifically explained to the class the need for increased awareness and education of the signs of a human trafficking victim because often, these individuals do not see themselves as victims.

Following this emotionally powerful presentation, class members were taken to Girls, Inc. of San Antonio. CEO Rhonda Williamson explained their mission and the need to teach young girls to be smart, strong and bold. This visit was more than a session about female empowerment; it was a hands-on lesson on how both men and women can help ensure our young women and men grow–up to view women as strong leaders in our community.

Sharing his message of servant leadership, Hill Country Bakery President and CEO Steve O’Donnell explained the history of his company. Starting off in a small 1,250 sq. ft. building to now three state-of-the art buildings taking up an entire city block, O’Donnell discussed how important it was for him to move his operations to downtown San Antonio to be closer to his team and provide health coverage for all employees.

The class then toured the facilities of Alpha Home and was educated on the tireless work being done to help women in our community overcome alcohol and drug addictions. CEO Julie Wisdom-Wild discussed the latest services being provided by their facility along with opportunities for volunteerism. Next, the class met with Dress for Success CEO Pamela Taylor and Crosspoint CEO Dr. Kevin Downey. Taylor and Downey discussed the unique services provided by their respective non-profits and ways class members can get involved to help empower individuals seeking succeess.

The class made a final stop at SeaWorld of San Antonio, where the staff introduced them to various operations including their work in wildlife and resource conservation, research, and animal care and safety. Additionally, class members were able to openly discuss issues raised by the recently-released documentary Blackfish and hear from SeaWorld trainers about the current conditions within the San Antonio park and those around the country. SeaWorld staff who participated in this segment of the day included: Kathryn Dinnin-Schulz, Mark Galan, Julie Sigman, Chuck Cureau and Anna Lisa Aguirre.

The day concluded at SeaWorld’s Sharks and Coral Reef area, where class members were encouraged to participate in a live auction benefiting the San Antonio chapter of March of Dimes. Additionally, the Social Responsibility Team, with a generous donation from Mission Pharmacal, was able to donate a total of $3,000 to the local charities they visited throughout the day!

The members of LSA class 39 are grouped into committees who develop agendas for each of the eight class days throughout the calendar year. The agenda for this month’s Social Responsibility day was developed by:

The committee was also assisted by steering committee members:

LSA is a joint partnership of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Click here for more information or email Priscilla Camacho.