An entrepreneurial spirit drives community
engagement for an IBM retiree

Story of service • Mexico • February 2013


Luis Cecelio Toussaint Gallardo
receiving the “Volunteer of the Year”
award from the Association of
Fundraising Professionals

Luis Cecelio Toussaint Gallardo spent a lifetime at IBM. Throughout his 30 year career as an industrial engineer in Guadalajara, Mexico, he worked to ensure IBMers had access to quality education and training. Luis is visually impaired, and during his tenure he used his educational leadership skills in his community to help improve the lives of children with similar challenges.

In 2007, Luis retired from IBM and made the decision to become a full time volunteer. “I decided to become an employee, but an employee of others,” he says, and is currently focusing his volunteer efforts on two worthy causes: Escuela de Niñas Ciegas, a school for visually impaired girls; and Centro Integral de Rehabilitation Infantil, or CIRIAC, child rehabilitation center.

Founded in 1971, Escuela de Niñas Ciegas is a not-for-profit organization that helps girls with visual impairments become self sufficient and self confident while they work to achieve the education needed to enter post secondary school. The organization was founded to specifically help women and girls because its founder saw a gap in society for this type of service for women. Many of the students come from broken families and wouldn’t otherwise get the support they need. Today, the school has over 40 students ranging in age from 1 to 40 years old and 8 recent graduates.

Cerebral palsy is an irreversible injury that primarily affects the motor centers of the central nervous system, damaging the movement of different parts of the body. At CIRIAC, children with cerebral palsy are provided education, alternative and physical therapy, hydrotherapy, communication and language therapy, transportation, and arts and sports activities. When CIRIAC was founded in 1986 it was difficult to find specialized care for people with cerebral palsy. They originally opened their doors to seven children and have grown to support over ninety people, including children, youth and adults. CIRIAC is an active member of the Red Integra Mexico together with 14 other organizations who join efforts for persons with disabilities.

Serving children in need in his community
Luis has worked tirelessly with both Escuela de Niñas Ciegas and CIRIAC since his retirement, dedicating over 30 hours a week to volunteering with these organizations. He collaborates with each organization’s leadership to establish best practices and expand their programs and has pioneered many education projects in Guadalajara.

He regularly uses IBM provided Activity Kits like “KidSmart Early Learning” and “MentorPlace” to provide structure to his projects, and finds that the skills and perspective he received during his IBM career have served him well in his volunteer efforts, emphasizing that, “IBM gave me a lot that I can now share.”

In November of 2012, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) recognized Luis for his dedication by awarding him with the “Volunteer of the Year” award. The AFP represents more than 30,000 members in 230 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs, and recognizes a number of individuals annually for their fundraising and volunteer achievements.

“Giving to others is something I’ve lived since I was born,” says Luis, who lives IBM’s values everyday – even into retirement. His entrepreneurial spirit not only contributed to his success as an IBMer, but he has gone on to apply that same spirit to give people in his community challenged by a disability an equal opportunity to succeed.

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