This past month, we welcomed Dirk and Raquel Cameron aboard the Amplio Recruiting team. Together they are using their passions and experiences to help connect Houston businesses to their local refugee workforce.
The soon-to-be empty nesters couldn’t be more excited about their new roles, the next step, they believe, on their God-led journey.
The two are no strangers to the challenges of starting over in a new country. Raquel, a native Colombian, grew up familiar with a great deal of insecurity within her country. Her dad, a retired dentist and rancher, was the head of the cattleman’s association, putting him on the front lines against armed rebel groups illegally obtaining land for power.
The emerging threats and constant fear grew old, and Raquel’s parents made plans to return to her mother’s home country of Mexico. They sent Raquel and her brother to Houston for college study, where they were welcomed and cared for by family friends—an experience Raquel won’t soon forget.
“They treated us as family. They would invite us every weekend for a meal and board games. We developed such a wonderful family in the U.S. ”
This “wonderful family” included a new interest, a friend of her brother’s—Dirk.
While Dirk was traveling abroad and grew more involved in student ministry, Raquel made the decision to return to her family. She applied at a Guadalajara Mexico college, where she could finish out her degree. She and Dirk dated long-distance before he moved to Mexico to study Spanish. During this time he grew to know and love her family and before returning to the U.S., he proposed.
Raquel finished her final semester of college and the couple married, settling once more in Houston. There, they got involved in an international student ministry… but it wouldn’t be long before adventure called again.
Just seven months after returning to Houston, Dirk was offered a job—in Ecuador.
The couple settled once more, but unexpected challenges with her work visa left Raquel unable to work. Undeterred, she wasted no time working as a volunteer, helping local missionaries within the country’s low-income communities. “It was a really neat time,” Raquel shares, “It opened my eyes to a lot of needs in Latin America.”
When her dad passed away from cancer, Raquel and Dirk returned to Houston, welcoming in Raquel’s mom. They had their first child in 1996 in Ecuador, and their second child in 1999 after returning to Houston. This began a new season for their family. Raquel spent the following years at home raising the children, while Dirk started a new business venture with his brother-in-law—developing new hotel reservation and marketing technology for independent hotels globally.
“The whole idea of business as a mission really started with him. We realized that business and missions did not have to be divorced,” Raquel explains. The company afforded Dirk the opportunity not only to provide an incredible product that met a need in the market, but to help those he met along the way.
As their children got older Raquel, too, found her niche—an opportunity to put her bilingual skills to work, helping local immigrants. Working as a Spanish interpreter in schools and hospitals, she became tragically aware of the struggles of the community’s newcomers.
“Several times I would come home and tell Dirk their stories. I would say, ‘I just wish I could do more,’” she remembers. “They were placed in a new country and trying to figure it out.”
These experiences rekindled memories of the couple’s past. Back to their days as newlyweds, involved in international student ministry in Houston.
“It was crucially important [to these kids] having that welcoming friendship. Someone to ask them how life was going… how was your first week of school? I thought about the places we had been—Mexico, Houston, Ecuador, then back to Houston. There have been so many different times when we had to go through the process of adjusting to a new place. What a blessing it is to find a welcoming hand.”
Little did she know that her and Dirk’s passions and experiences were about to intersect in a big way. Through “God connections”, as Raquel calls them, the couple came across a friend’s podcast—an interview on “Value Driven Productivity”. The guest was Chris Chancey, CEO of a unique recruiting company connecting companies to the “refugee workforce.”
“It was a true business-as-mission model. A great integration of the two,” she explains. Dirk connected with Chris and business partner Luke Keller, who were, surprisingly, already working on putting together the pieces needed to expand Amplio to the Houston area. When he came across the description for managing director Dirk called and told Raquel, “I think this is me!” to which she responded, ‘This really is you.”
When Luke flew in for a business trip, the talks continued and it was determined that Dirk and Raquel were, indeed, the perfect fit. Together they are an incredible power couple committed to connecting Houston businesses to refugees looking for opportunity to work and rebuild.
Their days are full of meetings, brainstorming, and continuing to build strategic relationships within the community. Despite the many hurdles ahead, they remain optimistic about bringing this unique labor shortage solution to the Houston market.
“[Dirk has] always been a connector at heart,” Raquel shares, admirably, “He gets so much joy out of connecting people because he thinks something wonderful could come out of that.”
Something wonderful indeed. When businesses are connected with the refugee workforce, it’s an undeniable win-win. Companies gain dedicated, talented and reliable employees to fill their labor shortage needs, while refugee families who were once unemployed or underemployed gain the means to be self-sufficient and rebuild their lives here in the U.S.
At Amplio Recruiting, we are passionate about connecting great companies with the refugee workforce. We are proud of Dirk and Raquel and the work they are doing in Houston. If you are a business owner, manager or entrepreneur who would love to learn more about hiring refugees, visit our website to learn more or contact us.