Apriem Advisors was founded on the vision of giving client’s the opportunity to live a life of significance beyond their success. In the same way, Apriem strives to encourage this value in the lives of their employees. One way this is done is through encouraging employees to participate in their charitable arm, Apriem Cares. An organization that Apriem has had a longstanding relationship with is the Jessie Rees Foundation. Through Apriem’s sponsorship of the NEGU Gala in March, Apriem Financial Analyst Alan Ahmatovic, and his girlfriend Gabriela Flores were inspired to do more. Harmon Kong, Apriem’s founding principal was onboard and after months of discussing, planning, and coordinating, they embarked on a journey to bring 200 joy jars to children fighting cancer in El Salvador, Gabriela’s home country. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflict Harmon and Apriem’s President Rhonda Ducote could not join the trip. But aside from giving Alan a paid volunteer time for the entire week, Apriem also paid for their plane tickets.

After being inspired to bring joy jars to kids fighting cancer in El Salvador, Alan and Gabriela were able to enlist Gabriela’s mother, Sandra Cruz, who works for the Government of El Salvador. Throughout the process, they were able to form partnerships amongst NEGU and Ayudame a Vivir, a non-profit Salvadorian organization helping kids fighting cancer, all with the support of the El Salvador government. After many meetings discussing partnerships and logistics, they were finally able to do what they came for! Below is our interview with Alan.

Apriem: Please tell us what you did in El Salvador?

Alan: On Tuesday, we spent the day with various members of the government including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Proesa, a government agency that facilitates exports and promotes investment in El Salvador. During these meetings we discussed NEGU’s mission in El Salvador and ways we can continue to work together moving forward. The following day we met with Ayudame a Vivir, which is the non-profit organization NEGU partnered with to deliver Joy Jars in El Salvador. Here we discussed the logistics of the Joy Jar delivery, as well as opportunities to strengthen this newfound partnership. After two days of meetings, it was finally time to do what we came to do! On Thursday we arrived at the Hospital de Bloom and delivered jars to roughly twenty children fighting cancer. From there we moved to Ayudame a Vivir’s private facility, where we delivered another sixty jars. Overall, we delivered about eighty jars and left another one hundred and twenty for other patients we couldn’t meet during our visit.


Apriem: Why is this trip important to you?

Alan: I have always had a strong passion for helping others in difficult situations. This trip holds a special place in my heart because it was the first time in my life where I felt like I really made a significant difference in another person’s life. On top of that it was very special for me to help Gabby and Sandra give back to their home country in such a meaningful way. I’ve done various forms of volunteer and philanthropic work in the past, but they don’t measure up to the impact I felt we made on this trip.


Apriem: Now that you are back, what was the impact of this experience to you? 

Alan: The trip was a great success and I feel very proud of what we were able to accomplish. For me, this was an incredible learning experience and it gave me perspective on the difficult trials faced by others throughout the world. I am truly humbled by the impact we made, and I look forward to coordinating future projects like this in the years to come. This was my first mission trip, but certainly not my last!


Apriem: Any closing message that you would like to make?

I would like to thank everyone involved for working hard and cooperating to make this trip happen. I believe both NEGU and Ayudame a Vivir play a vital role in fighting pediatric cancer and I’m honored to have the opportunity to help bring these two courageous organizations together.

Click here to see more photos from the trip.

To learn more about how you can participate in the mission of the Jessie Rees Foundation visit: https://negu.org/