A Helping Hand Up
Sam Solakyan believes wholeheartedly in giving back to his community. In addition to donating extensively to charitable causes and participating in countless acts of personal generosity, the CEO of Global Holdings serves on several boards of directors — but the one that especially connects to his own experience is serving on the Board of the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation. Solakyan was only seven years old when his family emigrated from Armenia to the United States. They settled in a rough neighborhood, he says, where he learned very quickly how to fight and defend himself.
“I also learned, thanks to opportunities and programs like the SYF, that I could make something of myself and get out of those conditions,” says Solakyan.
Now a successful businessman in a position to directly impact young people’s lives for the better, Solakyan sees the SYF model as especially effective in reaching out to kids in underserved areas. “They are exposed to cops, counselors and other successful people who can be role models,” he says. “When they have an opportunity to educate themselves, it not only expands their list of opportunities, it also changes and enhances them as people. They realize that truly anything is possible in life.”
So strongly does he believe in the power of education, Solakyan has been quick to step up financially for SYF youth when he sees a need. His recent contribution to the Salute to Youth Gala ensured that the outstanding young people honored that night left with scholarships and laptops to help them in their academic pursuits.
One of his biggest goals as a Board member is to create greater recognition for the program and expand its reach. “At our annual gala, we have kids who go on stage and tell us how SYF has affected their lives,” says Solakyan. “I want everyone in our city to realize how real and big this problem is, and how beneficial and rewarding our work at SYF has been for these kids. I think if people saw the challenges these kids face, and how helpful SYF’s programs are for them, we would have the kind of support this organization deserves.”