A Veteran’s Taco Truck and Nonprofit Retailer are More Than Meets the Eye
I left the office one hour before the Pittsburgh Small Business Community Heroes event commenced on July 31, 2014, allowing enough time to navigate a couple of country roads to find Walter Aguirre’s truck – L.A. Taco. The truck is at a different location or locations each day throughout the Kittanning area. On this day, the 2014 Pittsburgh Small Business Community Hero was parked across from a Ford dealership in Sarver, PA – right in front of the post office.
I spotted Walter right away in his LA Kings hat (a Los Angeles native, he says he never wears Pittsburgh gear) and introduced myself. He is my age and a veteran of the US military, having completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009. After displaying his dedication to our country, he enrolled at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and after starting life as a business class project in college, his taco truck soared.
Aguirre serves up more than tasty Mexican fare at L.A. Taco. Over the past two years, he has collected $4,000 worth of toys for the Salvation Army with his Toys for Tacos drive. He also hosts the First Friday Foundation, a monthly gathering of local food truck vendors, music, and fun, with a portion of proceeds benefiting a charitable organization. His efforts have also raised funds for Autism Speaks and the Wounded Warrior project.
As the recipient of this year’s Pittsburgh Small Business Community Hero commendation, Direct Energy Business presented Aguirre with a $500 cash prize and commemorative award, while also donating $2,000 on his behalf to PA Hero Walk.
One day earlier, I was part of a group from Direct Energy who honored Sally Power of Treasure House Fashions as the Honorable Mention for the 2014 Pittsburgh Small Business Community Hero. For 13 years, Sally didn’t make a salary off of Treasure House Fashions, even though she was digging herself out of $200,000 in debt. She launched this retail nonprofit to help other women in need facing challenges such as poverty, domestic violence, homelessness, and more. The store affirms its core value in all it does – “You’re worth it!”
As I weaved my way through multiple rooms in a converted office building, it’s obvious that Treasure House Fashions could sure use facilities better suited for retail space. Thankfully, Power shared with the group that a new, more visible building had been recently purchased and that renovations were beginning soon. Direct Energy donated $250 to the nonprofit retailer to help with these efforts.
This article was written by Andrea Romo, External Relations Specialist for Direct Energy.