Southwest Veterans Business Resource Center Grand Opening

I am privileged to be invited to be a part of Southwest Veterans Business Resource Center’s (SWVBRC) grand opening. Anyone reading this is invited to attend. It will be a very inspiring event. Here is a part of my story that fits into their theme.

I Refuse to Fail
When I was 3, I looked at a huge tree and knew I wanted to climb it. I figured out a way and I climbed it and that was the beginning of my addiction to challenge and adventure. At a young age I found out that anything is possible if you just dream it, believe it, prepare for it and you can do it.!!!

Since then I have always looked at life as a huge opportunity for fun challenges and achievement. This has played me out well in achieving many of the athletic, academic, travel and just plain fun activities I went after. I look back over my 61 years and can honestly say “life is good” More than, good awesome.

This same spirit of adventure and needing connection with others is what has guided so much of my life and as a result has filled my years with so much meaning. As a child I had a most wonderful African nanny who instilled in me the spirit of Ubuntu.

It is a traditional African philosophy that offers us an understanding of ourselves in relation with the world. According to Ubuntu, there exists a common bond between us all and it is through this bond, through our interaction with our fellow human beings, that we discover our own human qualities. A person is a person through other persons. We affirm our humanity when we acknowledge that of others.

I am because we are, we are because I am. It is a spirit of brotherliness, solidarity and togetherness. I believe there is a spirit of good in every person and we all have a very special story and ability which has in some way a connection to another.

I have always been an organizer and instigator. I have always had the good of others foremost in my thoughts and made much happen in my communities I have lived in and my small circle of influence. 8 years ago I had a new burning desire and that was to play Survivor. A very strange quest for what really is a very frivolous goal. So built into my daily life, I spent 8 years having fun and getting prepared in every way in the absolute knowledge that one day I would play Survivor.

People asked me all the time. “Why, do you want this so badly” I would always answer for 3 reasons.

One, I will play this game for all the Baby Boomers and above. To tell them that although we are all older there is so much we can do with our lives still. Two, for all the kids out there. You all have your lives ahead of you, don’t waste a moment and go for your dreams. Thirdly, and most importantly, because “I can”.

I can, because this is the most amazing country that we live in where we are free to do anything we set our minds to doing. Too many Americans take this freedom for granted and we only have it because of all the sacrifices our troops have made to protect this freedom over the years. We have a freedom that so many other countries have fought valiantly to get. So I am playing for our current and past troops.

My hero, Nelson Mandela is an also an incredible example of this fight for freedom. He had a dream, he believed, he prepared and he did it. I still can’t explain why I became so determined to play it but perhaps it is that I will have a public forum to talk about belief in oneself. If only one person hears my message and gets out and chases their dream I have accomplished a big part of what my whole quest for Survivor was all about.

What I discovered playing Survivor was that everything my tribe stood for was totally against my spirit of Ubuntu. What I learned about myself was that not even for a million dollars could I desecrate that spirit, especially in Africa. What I would do is play as hard as I could, would refuse to fail and be the best person I could be. I would remain positive and do most of the work around camp. I just loved it all but my tribe did not love me. I was too happy.!!!

What I learned after watching how I was edited was once again ‘I refuse to fail” I had invited over 300 people to come and watch with my family and share in the fun and the accomplishment. The spirit of community was amazing. I was in awe of my family who knew the outcome at the end of the second hour and proudly supported my whole endeavor. My being booted from a game was in no way anything other than a huge accomplishment and is the stone in the water that will have ripples of positive repercussion.

From there I would take my message of inspiration out there. I still can’t explain why I became so determined to play it but perhaps it is that I will have a public forum to talk about belief in oneself. If only one person hears my message and gets out and chases their dream I have accomplished a big part of what my whole quest for Survivor was all about.

I am happy that my “celebrity “ as a Survivor will give me a platform to get my message out. That is happening as I am stopped by many in the community every time I am out. I hear from them and from hundreds of emails that I have been an inspiration.

I now feel privileged to be a part of the grand opening of Mr. Renteria’s Southwest Veterans’ Business Resource Center. I am simply a member of our community who has an interest being a part of someone else’s dream. Perhaps it is yours, the reader. I would love to shake your hand and see the dream in your eyes.

I look forward to meeting everyone there and being part of the springboard that will be the beginning of a new life for many of our treasured Veterans.

Dream it
Believe it
Prepare for it
Do it !!!

1 reply
  1. Gillian
    Gillian says:

    “Refuse to Fail”
    You are cordially invited to attend the
    Grand Opening
    of our
    Southwest Veterans’ Business Resource Center
    145 E. Fig Street,
    Fallbrook, CA 92028
    November 1, 2008
    The office will be open from 11 am to 4 pm for visitors. Festivities begin at noon and will
    12:00 Color Guard by local Boy Scouts
    Pledge of Allegiance
    Prayer – Pastor, Jerry Rillings of Fallbrook Foursquare Church
    Retire Colors
    12:10 Opening Remarks–Albert R. Renteria, Founder and CEO SWVBRC – “Refuse to Fail”
    12:15 Civilian, Gillian Larson, Survivor contestant – “I Refused to Fail”
    12:20 Veteran, Bob Mulz, Chairman, ELITE SDVOB – “We won’t Fail”
    12:25 Veteran, Sam Luna – “I Don’t Want to Fail”
    12:30 Congressman Filner, House Chairman of Veterans Affairs – “We Must Not Fail”
    12:35 Dedication of the Center to Guest of Honor
    -LCdr Carol A. Grice, NC USN Retired – Bonnie Zepada
    Please RSVP to
    Frances Lowe – email: [email protected]
    “We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire…..
    give us the tools and we will finish the job!”
    -Sir Winston Churchill

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