Aaron Aboites, center, with fellow Young Life leaders Selena Butterfield and Silas Rappe. [Courtesy photo]

Most days, including Saturday, Aaron Aboites can be found behind the counter at Moab Coffee Roasters, meticulously timing espresso pulls and keeping everything orderly. He isn’t there on Wednesdays, though. Aboites’ day off is his “business day.”

The story of his business day began sophomore year of high school, a time when he was not nearly so productively occupied, Aboites said. He had been in trouble, and was developing substance abuse habits. Encouraged by his friend David Bentley, and David’s mother, Leticia Bentley, the young men decided to resurrect Grand County High School’s Amigos Club.

Aboites and his Latino friends began meeting Wednesdays at lunch time to help each other with homework in a relaxed, positive space. Before long, Aboites and Bentley began bringing their non-Latino friends along, and the Amigo Club began to grow.

The same year, a friend invited Aboites to participate in Moab Young Life’s fall break retreat. In California with a group of peers, he went to Disneyland, spent evenings playing games and telling stories, and heard from leaders like Moab Young Life Area Director Silas Rappe that he wasn’t the only young person struggling to find his way. He realized that by acknowledging and talking about his mistakes, he could help other young people avoid them, Aboites said.

“For me, the change has been huge,” Aboites said. “It was ‘trust no one’ for me. It was ‘work hard and do everything yourself.’ Just that there was something new I could trust, that was huge.”

Aboites began making a positive impression on his peer group immediately, said Rappe.

“The thing that stood out with Aaron was his outgoing personality,” he said. “He has the ability to connect with just about anybody, and he does. He always made himself available, he would jump in and help out with whatever was needed.”

As a junior and senior, Aboites began helping with Young Life activities. Inspired toward service, he worked with his Amigos Club friends and the Moab Valley Multicultural Center to create Amigos to Amiguitos, connecting Grand County High School Latino student mentors with Helen M. Knight Elementary Latino students in a weekly after-school program. The program has grown so popular that today it has a wait list of 15 students and Aboites is helping recruit Grand County High School Amigos to answer the need.

Aboites graduated this year, and now spends his Wednesdays facilitating the noon Amigos lunch meeting, leading the Wednesday Amigos to Amiguitos after-school program, and helping facilitate the Wednesday Youth Life Club.

He believes the Amigos’ greatest strength is their vulnerability, and his inspiration is the leaders who opened up to him that fall weekend three years ago, he said.

“I fell in love with the fact that they didn’t hide those secrets,” said Aboites. “The testimony is the best tool.”

This Week: Aaron Aboites