Love Thy Neighbor Service Organization (LTN) was created in 2009 by Mike Robledo to provide and promote service opportunities for people to have compassion for and a desire to help their neighbor in need. In 2009, Mike had a spark of inspiration in his heart, which significantly altered his perspective on life, meaning, and purpose. This shift led him to have a deep and personal understanding and realization about his own life and how life really works. With this understanding came a profound sense of self-awareness, peace, power and control over all aspects of his lives, encompassing the areas of health, wellness, career, education, family, spirituality, prosperity, and success.
This realization led Mike to have unconditional compassion for their fellow man and a strong desire to help those in need, thus Love Thy Neighbor was born. He immediately saw an unmet need in the Rio Grande Valley and sought to address this need by providing new shoes for impoverished children; the organization’s first efforts were to hold a shoe drive to collect and clothe the feet of needy children in theRio GrandeValley.
The first “Love Thy Neighbor” shoe drive, held over two weeks in December 2009, garnered an overwhelming response. To date, the organization has distributed over 5,000 pairs of new shoes and socks to children in South Texas. Love Thy Neighbor experienced an outpouring of support for this cause, and developed strong partnerships with various nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local government agencies, businesses, and individuals who were all inspired to participate. The project evolved into providing school supplies, free health services, immunizations and even eyeglasses for needy children and families across South Texas. Project partners that contributed time and resources for the shoe drive and distribution events include:
- Catholic Charities of the Rio GrandeValley
- Buckner Children and Family Services
- Boys and Girls Club of McAllen
- South TexasPromotoras Association
- Hidalgo County(Health Department, Community Resource Centers, Sheriff’s Crimestoppers)
- Local Banks
- Local Elected Officials
- Local Businesses
Love Thy Neighbor developed strong partnerships with other local nonprofit organizations that are completely aligned with Love Thy Neighbor’s mission of helping others in need. Love Thy Neighbor also discovered that there are many individuals whose lives were touched by witnessing the outpouring of love for others through Love Thy Neighbor’s activities. People are definitely interested in and seeking ways to “love thy neighbor,” but do not necessarily know how to be of service. There also lacks a sustainable element in service; once a service project is finished, there is seldom further follow-up. Love Thy Neighbor discovered that there is a need to connect and coordinate local efforts to more effectively enhance service delivery to help those most in need by instilling a culture of service in individuals through personal self-empowerment, as well as an opportunity to connect service organizations with volunteers who desire to help. After a year of this type of direct service activity, the organization has seen an opportunity to further develop itself not only through direct service as a charitable organization, but also as a direct catalyst for profound systemic change in communities by impacting individual lives.
As its name suggests, Love Thy Neighbor is a simple concept that has universal application. Evidenced by their personal experience, the founders of Love Thy Neighbor recognize that in order to love one’s neighbor, one must first be able to love themselves. Love Thy Neighbor seeks to expand its services and become a mechanism to help individuals become empowered with the tools to raise themselves out of negative life situations – poverty, illness, financial distress, etc. Achieving this success on an individual level will lead to individuals to seek within their hearts to determine their purpose or calling and inspire them to serve humanity in a manner that best suits them and their individual talents, time, and skills. Love Thy Neighbor has the potential and commitment to have a more substantial impact in the region by expanding its services to establish a program that would include personal and individual life coaching to further promote the ideals of loving and serving humanity by first loving oneself.
Love Thy Neighbor is currently expanding programs and services to foster individual, personal and sustainable growth through individual empowerment, wellness, and social and emotional change. This program will eventually lead individuals to the same peace and completeness that sparks the inspirational desire to help humanity in whichever way beckoned. Love Thy Neighbor is optimistic about the opportunity to enhance its ability to be a catalyst for profound and meaningful change for individuals and communities most in need.