During the first week of May, Univera Associates and Corporate Staff accompanied Serve First’s partner, Vitamin Angels, on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Though Univera has assisted Serve First on several of these trips, the DR was a first for Univera. While there, the Associates witnessed the mission of Serve First played out in real time, as the lives of some very deserving children were impacted with the gift of essential, life-giving micronutrients.
Below, you can get to know the lucky Associates who were chosen to attend this trip. How does one prepare themselves for a trip to a place unlike any they’ve ever been? Where things like clean drinking water, electricity and three square meals are considered luxuries instead of bare necessities? Let’s find out…
Ralph Bietz, Univera COO, Serve First Board President
My name is Ralph Bietz and I live in Sammamish, WA. I am in my 7th year with Univera as Global Chief Operating Office. This is my first year as President of the Board: Serve First. I joined Univera in the fall of 2007. I enjoy spending time with my wife Ginger, six sons, three grandchildren and pet pit-bull Tessa. In no particular order I also enjoy music, painting, travel, beach time and pit bull rescue.
What is your favorite Univera Product and why?
It has been Aloe Gold but now it’s Aloe Select. I’m constantly on the go and the immune support & digestion support in a busy stressful environment is great. There is always at least one bottle in my refrigerator at work and at least one bottle at my home. Three of my six sons have taken Aloe Gold at one point in time or another with outstanding results. Several of them had stressful educational programs they went through at the university level and Aloe Gold gave them excellent support.
What does Serve First mean to you?
First, I am honored to be a part of it. As President I’m looking forward to taking it to the next level. Starting with our Dominican Republic trip, we have some special memorabilia planned to commemorate this trip. All those who are participating in this wonderful cause should be applauded and anything I can do to help create special memories that will last a lifetime I believe is important.
We are all ambassadors for Univera, and we are truly involved with and feel the heart of the company working thru Serve First. Also, we have just filed trademark protection for Serve First logos. One more step to protect and set apart our organization and its presence as we grow it.
The Vitamin Angels organization is world renown and I’m excited to have a chance to spend time with them and learn more. This is also one more chance to honor our founder and sponsor Mr. Bill Lee and his Father with our service to this organization which I feel is important for the heart and soul of the company.
How do you include the Serve First mission into your Univera business?
It’s easy; once again this goes back to the heart and soul of the Univera Company, our sponsor Mr. Bill Lee, and his Father. They, Univera & Serve First, are the same to me. Serve First is much more than just a charity. It represents the spirit of the organization and its people. Just as Univera is much more than just a company. It is the dream and vision of the founder with its heart, spirit, and our organization of customer, leaders and employees that believe in it and its purpose. The best part, we get to be an integral part of its future.
Describe how you felt when you found out that you had been chosen to go on the annual Serve First trip?
Heart warmed, a little apprehensive, honored, and wondering where I was going to get the energy for one more thing. But, very pleased overall to be included… both as host and participant.
What are your expectations about the Dominican Republic?
Having traveled the world quite a bit, new places always carry excitement, a few issues, and a few surprises. So far I’ve heard a lot of “bug” stories. And having been in the Caribbean quite a bit in tough areas, well… Let the bug wars begin.
Times when I’ve been to impoverished areas, the people are absolutely wonderful. It is amazing how good hearted they are, how thankful they are for the little that they have. We have no idea how rich and blessed we are. This also serves as a good reminder for us.
What are you doing to prepare for your trip physically, mentally and emotionally?
Vaccinations are a must. Thank you Virginia Mason Travel Center. My wife is a little scared… she has not been to second and third world countries before and sees a lot of negative news.
First, I want to do everything possible for our Associates to have a wonderful and positive memorable trip that they will treasure for a lifetime and beyond. Second, I want to help the children anyway that I can when I’m there. Third, I have worked with friends to prepare a few Spanish phrases so I can try to talk with the families and children. Not sure how that is going to go since I have so little free time to prep. And of course making sure my insurance is paid up just in case. However, here is to positive thinking so let’s hope it’s not needed in any way, shape, or form. Finally, I am really looking forward to my own positive experience. I have traveled and worked in many places in Latin America before. I’ve always enjoyed the kindness and gentle spirit of the people. I have not been to Dominican Republic before… so it will be a new adventure!