Charity is good for the soul. But for entrepreneur Patrick Lucchese, the benefits of charity are tangible.
“It always amazes me to see what people can accomplish when they have a shot at a better life,” Lucchese says. “My dad was a surgeon. He helped lots of people by performing surgeries for free. It was his way of giving back. Because I grew up with a mindset of serving the community, I have always been involved in charities. But it wasn’t until 2010 that I started investing heavily in one community to try to pull people out of poverty.
For Lucchese, that one community is the favela of Porto Allegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. This philanthropist believes that the residents of Porto Allegre have chosen to lead productive, impressive, successful lives. But to stick to their chosen path toward their goals, they need food security, medical security, and the attention of someone who cares. The same way Lucchese shows companies their optimal path to profitability, he invests in community infrastructure and helps residents of the favela make sound decisions about their careers.
But more fundamentally, the Brazilian philanthropist believes, charities need to invest in the dignity of all people.
“I’ll give an example,” Lucchese shared. “Every time I go to Porto Allegre to give out food and to get close to the people, I hear tragic stories. One of the women in our program was an older lady who had gone blind. Her disease had started slowly, affecting just one eye, but then it affected her other eye, leaving her almost completely blind. She had given up on life.
The public health system in Brazil is not everything it could be, so she needed help to get treatment. We paid for not just one but five surgeries—with the end result that she could see again!”
At her advanced age, the Brazilian entrepreneur explains, this lady was not going to set off on a new career or earn her way out of poverty. But giving her the healthcare she needed was an objective example to her favela that everyone counts.
“Many times I take my two boys with me when I visit Porto Allegre,” Patrick Allegre says. “I want them to see how the people in the favela are a lot like them. I want my children to grow up to want things that make the world better for everyone, too.”