#GivingTuesday: Meet Thomas Aguilar

December 1, 2015

In conjunction with #GivingTuesday and International Volunteer Day, we’re celebrating our employees who give back to their communities through volunteerism. #GivingTuesday, initially recognized in the United States on the first Tuesday in December, has become a global movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy throughout the year. International Volunteer Day, recognized on December 5, was established by the United Nations to recognize the work and the profound impact achieved by volunteers and volunteerism.

Thomas Aguilar – Morton, IL

Thomas Aguilar will tell you he has a lot to be thankful for. When he was just five years old, his parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico and settled in downtown Peoria. They were surrounded by crime in the area in which he grew up in Mexico, but even after arriving in Peoria, his family’s journey over the years wasn’t an easy one. Thomas eventually joined the Marines and had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. After returning home, he spent nearly seven months on the road as a truck driver. It was during that extended period of solitude and reflection that Thomas’ purpose in life became clear.

“I spent a lot of time with my thoughts figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. The realization of how much others have helped me throughout my life has led me to pursue philanthropy as a way of life. Connecting meaningfully with others through service is what counts above all,” said Thomas.

And ever since then, Thomas, along with his wife who he met through his philanthropic work, has done just that – given back.

Today, Thomas, a facility planning engineer in Wear, Components & Aftermarket Distribution, dedicates most of his free time to two organizations in particular – Habitat for Humanity and Illinois Central College (ICC). His work with Habitat began several years ago when he was asked to help translate documents for the organization. He continued to expand his involvement over the years and currently serves on the Greater Peoria Board Executive Committee.

Thomas also serves on the ICC Foundation Board of Directors, where he once attended before continuing on to Bradley University to earn an engineering degree, and eventually landing what he refers to as his “dream career” at Caterpillar. He makes a point to stay involved with the school by volunteering for various events and even pays one student’s tuition a year through an annual scholarship established by him and his wife.

When asked if he had any advice for his colleagues who may want to volunteer their time, but don’t know where to begin, he recommends starting with reflection.

“Spend a few minutes each day reflecting on what’s near and dear to your heart. Think about what has helped you get to this point in your life. I’m willing to bet that in the process you’ll discover a passion you have. Orient yourself to that passion and find an organization that aligns. Whatever it is you give – whether it’s financially or your time – it will pale in comparison to what you’ll get in return.”

Thomas jokingly attributes his passion for giving back to his inability to say no. Joking aside, he couldn’t be more grateful for what he gets in return.

“Anytime I give back to the community, I always grow personally – as an individual, a leader, a spouse and a father – this work makes me a better person little by little.”

Thomas was also recently recognized in the Peoria area by InterBusiness Issues Magazine as a member of the 2015 class of 40 Leaders Under 40.

Want to get involved?

To find volunteer opportunities in your community, visit VolunteerMatch in the United States, and Idealist.Org outside the United States.

The #GivingTuesday Series: Celebrating Volunteerism at Caterpillar

In conjunction with #GivingTuesday and International Volunteer Day, we’re celebrating our employees who give back to their communities through volunteerism.

Learn More

Caterpillar Foundation

Together we are stronger. The Caterpillar Foundation’s mission is to alleviate poverty and place people on the path to prosperity.

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