House matters
DRAGONFLY - Tisha C.Bautista (The Philippine Star) - July 2, 2013 - 12:00am

You’ve seen them in supermarket shelves, in some yoga studios, and even featured in special websites. They are familiar bottles tagged with a deliriously happy woman dedicated to keeping things clean in the most environmentally conscious way. Of course, I speak of none other than the ubiquitous Messy Bessy product line.

For those of you who are already impressed by the quality of their items, you will be even happier to know that when you introduce Messy Bessy into your household chores, she takes care of more than just the four corners of a room. Not known to many is the genuine socio-civic spirit that drives this company.

Patterned after the extremely successful Delancey Street Foundation, a social enterprise that manages a diverse portfolio of companies, Messy Bessy is focused on honing young adults’ skills and work ethics while turning a profit. Many of these young adults have had histories of incarceration, institutionalization, and abuse.

In 2006, project HOuSE (Helping Ourselves through Sustainable Enterprises) was started. The basic concept was to create various enterprises that would act as both profit centers as well as training grounds for these disadvantaged young adults. Although HOuSE had its own share of growing pains (their first endeavor was Happy Helpers, an agency of temporary employees), things took a turn for the better with the establishment of a local line of green cleaning products: Messy Bessy. 

Apart from on-the-job training, participants enroll in what is now called: HOP (Helping Ourselves Program). It is an intensive program composed of four parts: academics, core values, work training, and work ethics —all of which are designed to help them one day be able to apply and retain a secure job of their personal choosing. 

Through the academic aspect of the program, HOP is able to provide young adults the opportunity to become working students. Half of their day is spent working at Messy Bessy and the other half is spent securing either a high school or college diploma. Initially employing the High School Alternative Learning System (ALS) endorsed by DepEd, this program currently uses an enhanced version that is taught in-house. To date, nine high school diplomas have been achieved in the past five years.

If that isn’t enough, last year witnessed a special partnership with the Manila Business College, which allowed for subsidized tuition fees and student loans. In essence, participants were able to work and pay for their tuition — the self –fulfillment of which is undeniably invaluable. Managers at Messy Bessy double as college mentors and sometimes tutors in an effort to help these young adults pursue their dream of a college diploma. As of now, there are 14 college scholars enrolled —  not at all a menial feat by any measure. 

The HOP’s core values program is equally impressive. Developed specifically with young adults in mind, modules on respect, integrity, passion, and excellence are central to this course. Supplementary values of punctuality, information on proper nutrition, and financial literacy are also espoused.

Lastly, and perhaps the most challenging and transforming aspect of this program, is the work ethic component. Understanding the value of the dignity of work, the industriousness and perseverance to succeed are key attributes required of workers in any environment. It is the dedication to their task that will spell the success or failure of their endeavor.

Lest you think that these are all big gestures filled with empty words, think again. The four aspects of the HOP are carefully and conscientiously improved, monitored, and graded. Each participant must maintain a minimum “GPA”(Grade Point Average) to be kept in the program. They must do well in every component of HOP — whether commitment to their work or excellence in their studies, each facet is given importance. As in all things that cost you something, it is always more difficult to give up and let go.

 It has not been by accident that this aspect of Messy Bessy has remained merely in the background. It is the intention of the people behind this brand that recognition be for the quality of their products rather than anything else. More importantly, each member of the Messy Bessy team, most especially their scholars, needs to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves — but that their role is equally valuable and equally essential.  They are offering better, safer alternatives for families and for living responsibly on this planet.  The fact that through HOP, these young adults have managed to turn their lives around and become productive members of society is entirely a bonus. They have ceased to become victims and have chosen not to allow their past to dictate their future. 

So the next time you pick up a Messy Bessy bottle, know that you’re doing more than just creating a safer environment of your family — you are helping others change lives. 

No wonder the woman on the label is so deliriously happy. You would be, too.

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