My Echo Story: SOS Outreach |

My Echo Story: SOS Outreach

Arn Menconi
SOS founder and executive director

More than 2,700 kids across the country will hit the slopes this season through SOS Outreach, a Colorado-based nonprofit dedicated to helping South Lake Tahoe at-risk youth excel in the classroom and learn critical life skills on the mountain. SOS participants face a variety of challenges, including trouble in school, living in low-income households and speaking English as a second language. Through a variety of curriculum stressing responsibility, self-confidence and service, SOS youth learn five core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion. While former SOS participant Francisco “Paco” Holguin left the mountains last fall for the East Coast, he found himself drawing upon his SOS values during his first semester at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.

The oldest of three and the first generation of his family to be born in the U.S., Paco enrolled with SOS Outreach as a way to get involved in his community. After eight years with the program, Paco graduated from high school last year and received a full ride scholarship to MIT. Paco says he relies upon SOS’s five core values frequently, and emphasizes integrity as being particularly important with schoolwork.

“There is a sense of integrity in terms of doing your own work,” Paco said. “Homework is done collaboratively with other people, but come test time, you’re on your own and you have to know your material.”

Paco also reflects on the courage he’s also found recently, especially when searching for a summer research internship to augment his selected major of physics.

“Both professors and older students say that in order to get a research position, you have to have the courage to ask for and seek out what you want,” Paco said. “If know that if I don’t take the chance, I won’t receive the position.”

Vail Resorts values the importance of integrity, courage and wisdom, and recognizes the impact SOS Outreach and these lessons make on youth like Paco.

“By supporting SOS Outreach with both financial and in-kind contributions through Vail Resorts Echo, Heavenly Mountain Resort provides that once in a lifetime experience to local kids who might otherwise miss out on a world-class ski experience in their own backyard,” said Pete Sonntag, Heavenly’s general manager. “In addition to teaching youth to ski or snowboard, we appreciate that SOS Outreach also stresses leadership, the importance of community service and other key life lessons.”

– Corporate sustainability has always been fundamental for Vail Resorts. Through Vail Resorts Echo, our sustainability program, we hope to connect our communities to our efforts, from on-the-ground conservation programs to grants for local schools. Aimed at both protecting the natural resources that surround the resorts and helping build stronger communities where our employees live and work, Vail Resorts Echo encompasses three core efforts: environmental stewardship, charitable giving and community engagement. Learn more about VR Echo at

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