All it took was a commercial break for 12-year-old Nikole Martinez to realize her dream job was helping others.
It all started three years ago. Nikole came home from school one day and started watching her usual TV shows, just like any other day. But this time was different. This time, it was an ad that caught her attention.
“There was this guy. He was in a wheelchair,” explains Nikole. “He had gotten in a motorcycle accident and his mother took care of him. But it was hard for her to lift up the wheelchair, so they gave her a van to help her with carrying him around and having him travel.”
It was an ad for the SoCal Honda Dealers. And from the moment Nikole saw it, she knew she wanted to be just like the kind strangers in the commercial and become a part of the Helpful Honda team.
Nikole’s mom, Jocelyn Barabino, reached out to the SoCal Honda Dealers to ask if her daughter could join their awesome Helpful crew as her first job.
“They were really surprised that she wasn’t asking for anything — that all she wanted to do was, you know, give back,” remembers Barabino. “It’s really rare that a teenager actually wants to do that.”
The SoCal Honda Dealers, also called “Helpful Honda” are known for doing random acts of helpfulness and making a positive impact with unsuspecting strangers. Little did they know, though, that the positive impact they had on Nikole was getting her to spread the same message.
Nikole spent the day as an honorary Helpful Honda person this past December.
Her mom and dog, Scottie, even joined her for the amazing experience. “I was really excited,” adds Nikole. “I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”
She started the day by giving away free gas alongside her new co-workers.
Right after, they all went to the Fontana Festival of Winter to hand out treats, pick up trash, and even give people reusable bags.
They ended the day watching baseball games at the park — again, handing out free treats to the crowd.
The experience lit a fire in Nikole. In fact, she’s already thinking about how she can continue helping.
Her next step? Volunteering at the local animal shelter. “When we were looking for dogs,” says Nikole, “it’s just sad to see how many don’t have homes, so it’s fun to help.”
Her mom and the rest of her family are, of course, extremely proud that she wants to make helping others her life’s work. “In so many ways, they spoil her even more,” says Barabino, “which is the opposite of what she’s asking for.”
Paying it forward is just what’s in Nikole’s heart. And no matter what she ends up doing in the future, there’s no doubt she’ll be spreading tons of smiles.
“I make friends with everybody, so making somebody happy just makes it even better,” says Nikole. “When you can give somebody something they don’t have and see how happy and grateful they are for it, it just makes you feel better.”
That’s what the spirit of helping others is all about — being happy making someone else happy.
If that’s at the heart of whatever it is you do, everything else will naturally fall into place.
Check out how Nikole’s awesome day unfolded right here: