Roberto Teran Jr. has accomplished a great deal over his 30-year career as a powertrain engineer. He has earned ten patents, which is a testament to his hard work and dedication. But what really sets him apart is his passion for serving his community. Roberto has been a volunteer since he joined Ford in 1990, following in the footsteps of his father who had been a Ford employee for 38 years. In Roberto’s own words, "the volunteer events that Ford supports allows me to help in a more personal and immediate way."
There are a number of Ford volunteer projects Roberto has supported over the years, including Operation Good Cheer, the annual holiday gift drive for Michigan foster children. He has also been a technology mentor and coach for middle and high school students participating in robotics competitions. Most dear to Roberto’s heart is his work at Clark Park, the historic playground in Southwest Detroit, where he partners with the Ford Hispanic and Latino Network—one of the company's many employee resource groups.
"It is a great way to recharge my battery and warms my heart. At the beginning of each annual Clark Park clean-up event, I stand on a ladder to give instructions and thank my fellow Ford volunteers. Then I tell them, the job they do today requires no report-outs, paperwork, or electronic tracking of any kind. Just a good day’s work. They always cheer."Roberto Teran
Clark Park is well known in Detroit for its community programs and sports facilities—all made possible by a large coalition of corporate volunteers, residents, nonprofit organizations, and local city support. Known for its exceptional sports programming, Clark Park has an NHL regulation-size outdoor hockey rink, where the Red Wings have been known to practice. Beyond sports, Clark Park hosts photography workshops and a homework club. To promote a healthy lifestyle, there are also vegetable gardeners who teach kids and adults how to grow food and prepare meals. To support higher education, Clark Park helps students prepare for college including providing access to transportation for college campus tours.
Roberto and the Ford Hispanic and Latino Network have also initiated additional activities at Clark Park, including a spring clean-up to prepare the park for summer and a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math) program for high school students. In many ways, this park is central to the health and vitality of the community.
"Clark Park has seen generations of Hispanic American families play on its baseball diamonds, swing on its swings, and soak up the sun on its park benches."Roberto Teran
In fact, this was my parents' neighborhood park from the time they came to Detroit from Texas in 1946. I feel a connection to this place through my parents and older siblings. Before my father died in 2010, I made a point of taking him to Clark Park after each annual clean-up for a picnic with my wife and kids," says Roberto.
Over the years, Roberto has taken on more and more responsibility with each spring event. Today, he is a leader and passionate advocate for the community. His spirit of volunteering is also contagious, he actively recruits other Ford employees to give back to the community by tapping into the Ford Hispanic and Latino Network. When his call goes out for volunteers, employees lineup to help. This year, more than 125 Ford volunteers participated in the cleanup.
In His Own Words
"We measure our success by seeing the increased use of the park by residents and businesses in the community. The first year I volunteered to clean up Clark Park, I was part of the woodworking team, replacing broken and missing boards on nearly every park bench in the park. Once they were all fixed, the number of new repairs dropped significantly. Our work encouraged better care of the park.
One of the most special moments was when an older citizen across the street from the park walked over to me and my crew and thanked us for cleaning up the lot next to the park where people had started dumping. Apparently, she had tried previously to get the debris moved but with little success.
I enjoy working for the benefit of others. The opportunity Ford gives me increases my pride in the company. My parents were always helpful and caring people, and everyone loved them. Living with that example is what shapes a person's values. I started taking my son Miguel to help keep Clark Park clean and safe when he was seven. Now he is in college, and I can see that volunteering has had an impact on his life, too."
Managed by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Ford Volunteer Corps is a global network of Ford employees and retirees who have contributed more than 1.7 million volunteer hours in community service projects since 2005.