In the provincial city of Cuenca, amid the highlands of Ecuador, stands a beacon for abused and abandoned children with no place to call home. Its name, La Esperanza Children's Home, literally means "hope." And its legacy is rooted in the passion and purpose of WorldVentures International Marketing Directors Dave and Yvette Ulloa. A successful couple with blue collar beginnings, their main mission in life is to give back at the same level of abundance with which they've been blessed.
"My father, Galo, was orphaned in Ecuador at 8 years old, Dave shares. "When he passed away in November 2010 following a motorcycle accident, instead of donating flowers, we asked people to make a contribution to founding an orphanage in his name. In less than 30 days, we raised $30,000 to open the orphanage."
Leveraging the support of the WorldVentures Foundation™, the couple led a VolunTour to Cuenca in 2011 with 40 DreamTrips™ Members and, together, they performed the first documented international extreme makeover of an orphanage.
"With manpower, money and love, we got La Esperanza off the ground in just a few short months," Dave says. "Since then, we've opened two more homes. It seemed only fitting to honor my father's memory by helping children who are in the same situation he faced as a child."
To help plant the seeds of self-sufficiency and entrepreneurism among the orphans, the team also purchased conventional ovens for each home, taught the children how to bake and guided them on how to sell their goods at local markets to raise funds for essentials.
Applying Parental Wisdom
"My father gave me a formula for success which was: Desire + belief + action = success. I've applied that formula in all facets of my life and I freely share it with others."
That formula proved applicable when Dave faced seemingly insurmountable odds during his youth. Despite his inner city upbringing in New York and California, he went on to earn a B.S. in criminal justice from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California, where he minored in coaching. And despite his perceived vertical disadvantage at 5'8", he landed a five-year contract to play professional basketball with the Echuca Pirates of Australia at the age of 21. His career path ultimately led to a patrol officer position with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he worked for eight years.
Similarly, Yvette experienced her own brand of bootstrap achievement being born in Queens, raised in Bolivia with three brothers, then uprooted and repatriated to California during her early teens. "It was a big jump and a difficult one," she recalls.
Yvette would go on to compete in beauty pageants, claiming the Miss Glendale USA and Miss USA International titles. Her scholarly pursuits led to a degree in communications and political science from California State University, Northridge. She built a respectable career as director of economic development with the City of Burbank, where she worked for 10 years before retiring with honors from the Burbank and Los Angeles City Councils, the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and various non-profit organizations.
"No matter where you come from, you can change your life if you change your mindset," Dave explains. "Your environment doesn't determine your destiny. If you follow simple principles, you, too, can have an abundant lifestyle. We travel all over the world sharing this message.
"Growing up low income, I had what I needed but not what I wanted. I desired to have more and to give more. Life is completely different now. When I go back home to New York, it's definitely different. We've done speaking engagements there. It is so humbling to see how far we've come. I'm so grateful for what we have."
Stepping into Destiny
Dave and Yvette joined WorldVentures during the pre-launch in November 2005 at the urging of a friend who was also a Rep at the time. Disillusioned by the realities of disappearing pensions, sluggish wage growth and market meltdown likely requiring them to work well into their senior years, the couple had determined it was time for radical change.
"We had found ourselves in the rat race of basically going to work, coming home, paying bills and starting the cycle all over again. We started learning that if we wanted to get out of the rat race and living an average life, we needed to become entrepreneurs. We had already started to invest in real estate, the stock market, etc., but none of it gave us time freedom."
Voracious readers of personal empowerment books, they embraced the tenets of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki. The loosely autobiographical bestseller advocates building wealth through investing, starting and owning businesses, as well as increasing one's financial intelligence.
"We were introduced to the concept of direct sales by reading books, but all the potions, lotions, etc., didn't appeal to us," Dave says. "Travel was the perfect fit for us. The fact that it had a business opportunity attached was a bonus."
The couple steadily rose through the ranks by seizing every available training and professional development opportunity. Today, in addition to their IMD status, Dave and Yvette sit on the President's Advisory Council and are international trainers for the company. And while they were already avid travelers when they joined WorldVentures, their jet-setting has increased exponentially as they do business across continents.
"We are first-timers in the industry," Dave says. "We did not come from another company. We feel that our high values and personal growth have created success in our business."
By their own definition, the couple is experiencing abundance—"being present in the moment, contributing at a higher level and living a life of fulfillment on a daily basis." According to Dave, acquiring wealth is its own reward; however, the most important part is the fulfillment that comes from what you give. That's why the couple constantly seeks new and creative ways to support the empowerment of others.
Carving a New Niche
In September 2013, in conjunction with WorldVentures, Dave and Yvette launched Health & Fitness DreamTrips—a novel program that blends travel experiences, wellness initiatives and fitness mentorship. The inspiration for the program came two years ago, when Yvette was diagnosed with a tumor in her jaw and sought holistic alternatives to traditional treatment.
"Through my journey, we were able to stop the growth without surgery," she exclaims. "We gained total health and fitness along the way, and we look younger than ever. After almost 15 years of marriage, Dave has a 10-pack at 37, and I'm 43 and very fit."
Though the couple maintained a healthy lifestyle before Yvette's health scare, Dave said that experience was "the spark that made us decide to share our knowledge with others."
He continues: "We want to make sure the quality of our life is that of vitality and energy and excitement ... no matter how long we have on this earth. When you're healthy and fit, everything else seems to fall into place—your relationships, your finances and your happiness."
The inaugural Health & Fitness DreamTrip was a four-day affair at the Westlake Four Seasons in Los Angeles and drew 38 attendees. "We led the group through a health and fitness experience, working out together and exploring the mindset behind emotional eating," Dave says. "We sought to help them identify things that were holding them back from experiencing optimal health and fitness. We taught them what to do, gave them strategies and information, and a system to follow for the next 90 days. It's a powerful community of accountability and love."
Yvette proudly reports that the first group lost more than 264 pounds within 60 to 75 days following the trip. Health & Fitness DreamTrips will be held once or twice a year.
She expressed her gratitude for the platform WorldVentures has provided to spread their message of self-actualization.
"We have achieved success in multiple areas of our lives because of our commitment to personal development and growth," she says. "Personal development transformed our lives. And, that success has translated to all other areas of our life. We teach others how they can have it all. I think my greatest achievement is retraining my brain to believe that I can achieve anything. That includes hitting IMD as a blue-collar person, becoming a blue-collar millionaire and helping women have a voice worldwide to believe that they can achieve, too."
Dave concurred, adding that it's important to seek joy in the journey: "Many people believe that to achieve success in life you either have to delay your happiness or sacrifice it altogether, including giving up personal time. They think, 'One day when I have this much money or that house and car, I'm going to be happy.' Well, instead of finding success and then being happy, we decided to happily achieve."