We had the good fortune of connecting with Engel Indo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Engel, what are you inspired by?
Hello. As cliché as this may sound, my inspiration has always been my children, and now by extension, my grandchildren. To be particularly creative, you must have a driving force that is constantly evolving, as should you, your inspiration then becomes your way of life, your ‘why’ in life, and your life itself. One must be merged together with what inspires you in order to do great things. Not to say, I’ve done anything great, I am merely trying to do the best I can for, and with, those I care about.
I am also inspired, and perhaps guided, by the humility and benevolence of people. Perhaps, not all people are this way, I know that, but the majority are, indeed. For the most part, we, as a human race, are kind and loving, humans are smart to no end, and there is simply more good and caring people than bad, period. At least, I choose to believe this. I choose to be inspired by what is good and kind, rather than be pushed away by the inconsistencies of what life brings us at times.
To be fair, life is life, and lately, life has really not been a fan of humans of any kind, good or bad… but I love life, and I firmly believe that we, in this world at least, are all the same, and that we all deserve the best from one another. Maybe one day, we will live in a perfect world, but until that day comes, I will continue to be driven by what truly inspires me the most every single day, love.
What should our readers know about your business?
Pay It Forward Tucson, Inc., was originally a Facebook page I started around 2012, and the main purpose of it was to connect people who needed help with those willing and able to provide such assistance, I was only meant to be a moderator of sorts. Not long after, I realized the ratio between the two did not match, and I sort of found myself attending to the needs of many. No complaints at all, I loved it, still do.
My very first “client,” if you will, I don’t really like that ‘label,’ a Military Veteran, grandfather and head of household who was in need of a trailer to start his home landscaping business. He was humble, ready and motivated. First, I tried asking around if anyone would donate a used trailer and/or money to purchase one. Unfortunately, there were no positive responses, so I made a conscious decision that this was indeed a good thing for him and his family, so we went to purchase a new trailer from Home Depot, and that was the beginning of it all… I used my personal credit card… but if you saw his face, you would think he had just won the lottery… and the rest is history!
Given that PIFTucson was only a Facebook page, I was really not able to do fundraisers for this purpose, so for the most part, I was working out of pocket. It was not easy, but I managed to help as much as I could. Not everything was about money, some would just reach out because they needed a friendly person to talk to. Soon thereafter, PIFTucson became a (unofficial) household hub of resources.
Word got around I was helping the Veteran community, and I was doing this without any type of financial support from others.
I met a lovely lady, a Veteran herself, she immediately believed in my purpose and commitment to this mission. Little did I know, she was the regional manager for ‘A Family Discount Storage,’ a family-owned company with storage units all over Tucson. She offered me a free of charge storage unit to be able to store donations that began to come our way; anything from clothing to furniture, etc. This was an incredible gift, not only because it saved us money, and because we were still a Facebook page, but the gift of trust she offered me was what, perhaps, motivated me the most to continue what I was doing.
And so history wrote itself…
In 2016, Pay It Forward Tucson became an actual non profit organization, recognized as a 501(c)(3) and now able to register on Facebook as such, and able to do some fundraising as well.
It hasn’t been an easy road to travel in any way, and to this day, I continue to fund a great part of what I do out of pocket, with absolutely no complaints on my part, but since becoming a 501(c)(3) we have received monetary donations from our followers, some more than others, even Veterans out of Arizona have donated funds through our Facebook fundraisers.
It is worth mentioning that we have tried to do a few grant requests to no avail, however, Tucson Electric Power, not only gifted us 5 thousand dollars a couple of years ago for a Veteran related program, but, more importantly, a representative of TEP, who also believed in what we were doing, she contacted me sometime around 2013 to offered her support, and has been working with PIFTucson since then helping our Veterans and Low Income Families with their electric bills. What a gift of trust on her part as well!!!
Side note, I suppose. A few years back, PIFTucson created a satellite team in my hometown of La Perla in Callao, Peru. With the help of Volunteers there, mostly childhood friends whom I have loved all my life, and the financial support of donors here in Tucson and a Veteran and retired Law Enforcement long time friend from Florida, we were able to do a Breakfast Event for 50 plus low income kids and their families. School-aged children were given school supplies, chocolate milk and sandwiches prepared at home by our friends and families, all Volunteers.
And so the story goes on…
I will say that, without the help of many people, whom I have loved and admired for their dedication and strength, this crazy idea would have never come to be a reality.
The efforts of PIFTucson to help Veterans and Low Income Families are only present in this community because of our Volunteers and those who believed in the idea. I realize there are many organizations out there, and that we are but a very small, little, tiny part of a much bigger situation, but we are here and my hope is that we stick around for a while longer, we’ll see!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ah! This is a loaded question!
While this may sound incredibly untrue, given that I am also a musician and that I gig with my band, Chalako, and that I am now working with another set of fantastic musicians building a new act called The Dark End Of The Street, with music by Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett… oh wait… here I am advertising my music and forgetting to answer the actual question…
What I meant to say is that, while I perform out in the community constantly, I am also sort of an introvert, so I don’t go out much to begin with. I am also afraid to create an itinerary here, therby excluding some places that I have loved for many years…
So without the intent of exclusion of anyone, and in no particular order, I will only mention a few places for specific things I LOVE to do…
1. I LOVE to eat!
Churrasco De Brasil – Brazilian Steakhouse – 150 W Wetmore Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705 – (520) 293-7991
Let me tell you! When I found out they were first going to open, I was the FIRST one to stand in front of those doors, so yes, I rightfully will claim that I was their first customer, I also sat by their kitchen which made it even better for me.
Inca’s Peruvian Cuisine – 6878 E Sunrise Dr #130, Tucson, AZ 85750 – (520) 299-1405
This is not because I was born and raised in Peru, or not even because Peruvian food happens to be the best in the world, humbly stated, but this family-owned restaurant proved to be personable and 100% FOR their clients, the family-feel to this place is abundant.
2. I LOVE Karaoke!
A dear friend, Saul Morales, aka Sauly Renovado for those Facebook friendly peeps, in my heart, has the best service as a Karaoke DJ, maybe because somehow he makes my otherwise horrible voice, sound like a true star. He covers many venues, but a favorite of mine is every Wednesday at Elliott’s on Congress, 135 E Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701. Mr. Morales can be contacted at (520) 409-8874 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. I LOVE Bisbee!
Call me bias, maybe because Bisbee has shown a lot of love to my band Chalako, especially, St. Elmo Bar, 36 Brewery Ave, Bisbee, AZ 85603, (520) 432-5578, but this town AND St Elmo are definitely a place I would invite my friends. It is worth the trip for the amount of love you will get from its beautiful people.
As I said before, am not much of a going out kinda guy (anymore.) So this would be my very personal suggestions.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Another loaded question!
I am a firm believer that one can’t get to where he or she is without the support and advocacy of others, with some exceptions, I suppose.
But if I start mentioning here ALL the people, influences, and other well deserved recognitions, I may stay up all night writing, and there would also be a possibility that I will miss one or two, and that would not be good to my health.
I will need more time to think about this, but I can assure you, I am where I am because of the people who have been there for me throughout my life.
Serena Ruiz of SR Photography