Amaury Abreu talks big, acts big, dreams big.
It’s not necessarily what most Lebanon Countians are used to.
But when you come right down to it, Amaury Abreu is pursuing the elusive concept of the American Dream. And one of the reasons that’s so refreshing is that he reaffirms: The dream is still alive.
Abreu, a 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, is an aspiring entrepreneur, social activist, and politician. He and his family came to the United States, and Lebanon specifically, for new opportunities and a new lease on life.
All it will take to reach his goals are a little hard work and bit of perseverance. That’s the world according to Amaury. Don’t believe it? You probably haven’t met him yet.
“It’s part of my personality and how I operate,” said Abreu. “I love challenges and the idea of changing things. I knew coming here would save my life, and it has. I’m doing so many things here. I’m doing things I thought I would never do. I never thought I’d write a book or start my own business.
“I do know who I am,” continued Abreu. “I am a go-getter, a socially diplomatic person. In my core, I know that I’m passionate about solving social issues. I’m now taking a business approach, but I know it will end in politics.”
Abreu and his family came to the United States four years ago from Santo Domingo, three-and-a-half of which have been spent in Lebanon. Eventually they settled on Lebanon because of his father’s job at Always Bagels.
Since, his mother has taken a job at Mancino’s Pizza in the Lebanon Valley Mall. He and his sister work at the Lebanon Country Club.
Originally sponsored by his grandfather, Abreu is a permanent resident of the United States, but not a citizen, which means currently he can’t vote.
“I could’ve gone anywhere, but I chose Lebanon,” said Abreu. “My dad found a job here and I came here with him. We came to Lebanon for work and school. It was a convenience thing. But we didn’t know anything about the city.
“It was a transitional process,” Abreu added. “The opportunities for work and education are much better here. We saw a better life. I’m not saying we were looking for the American Dream. But we knew we could bring value to the community where we lived.”
During his time here, Abreu has accomplished much.
He graduated with an associate’s degree in general studies from Harrisburg Area Community College in Lebanon, and plans to attend Millersville University to major in public relations. He has authored two books, sits on the board of directors of the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center (SARCC) and has addressed students at Annville-Cleona and Lebanon High School, and Henry Houck and Southwest Elementary.
He also plans to shadow local representative Russ Diamond at the Pennsylvania state capital.
“My mom always asks me, ‘When are you going to take a break?’” said Abreu. “I have social media stuff going on. I have a clothing brand and a shoe brand going on. I’m dabbling into real estate. There’s an app. There’s an event. I’m going to say there’s eight things going on in my head right now, that and how I can get involved more in the community. But I know nobody can do it all.
“The cultures (in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic) are different,” Abreu continued. “There are good parts to each one. I miss the mindset of the community. We all knew each other (in Santo Domingo). We all worked together. There’s more individuality here, but I have been able to find a sense of community. It’s a matter of looking hard and putting yourself out there. There’s a community of people here that I love and appreciate.”
Like any visionary, Abreu has both short-term and long-term goals for himself. He’s at a point right now where he’s throwing things against walls, just to see what sticks.
“My challenge right now is to grow my business, grow my personal brand,” Abreu said. “I want to serve as many people as I can with the time I have. I ask myself, ‘What ways can I find to go out there and serve people?’ But I also want to help you improve your lifestyle. If that’s going to schools and inspiring children to start their own businesses, then that’s it.
“This new book is my short-term goal,” added Abreu. “I want to send the message that you can change your life by changing your mindset. I want to go to more schools locally and talk to kids. I want to present them with a message that they haven’t heard before.”
So Abreu is at the moment enthusiastically walking down a number of paths. But he is uniquely prepared to adjust to whichever way life leads him.
“I have talked to a lot of people about my clothing brand,” said Abreu. “I started it when I was 21, and I did it. I had no background or knowledge, I just did it. I never knew anything about books, but I wrote one and now I’m starting a third one. I just did it and learned as I went.
“Every time I said I’m going to do something, I did it,” continued Abreu. “I have to do what I say I’m going to do, I have a personal stake in it. You learn though experience, not just through theory. I just take action. It’s kind of like, ‘What are you waiting for? Do it today.’”
While continuing to honor his Dominican Republic roots, Abreu has become firmly planted in Lebanon. And if he continues to try to make himself better, he’s just naturally going to make his surroundings better.
“There are opportunities in both places,” said Abreu. “The difference is that in the United States of America, there are so many resources given to people – a lot of which aren’t taken advantage of. My mindset is: ‘I’m so thankful I have a job here and have opportunities to grow.’ In the Dominican Republic, you have to hustle so much.
“For me, Lebanon is my new home,” added Abreu. “I will definitely look into going back to my home country one day. The United States is my home for the future. Is Lebanon my home for the future? Maybe. Maybe not.”
Because if you lead, people will follow.