Dream GuyBy Michael Karol Posted: Nov 11, 2010
I recently had the pleasure of meeting J.R. Martinez (Brot, ALL MY CHILDREN) and we talked about an upcoming event that's close to his heart — The Salute to Veterans: PepsiCo Dream Machine's Bottles to Jobs Day, being held on Nov. 14 at Sun Life Stadium, in Miami, as the Miami Dolphins face the Tennessee Titans. It begins at 9 a.m.
The stadium is equipped with Dream Machine recycling kiosks and bins. For every plastic bottle and aluminum can recycled in a Dream Machine, PepsiCo provides support to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a national program offering free, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities.
Soap Opera Weekly: What exactly is this event all about?
J.R. Martinez: EBV or the Dream Machine program?
Weekly: Start with EBV.
Martinez: EBV helps veterans take a business idea they have — one they don't necessarily know how to make happen — and teaches them how to go from [the first] step to the next step. After sitting in for just a couple days, not only did I learn so much in the program [about] how to package myself — to put myself out in the public world even more — but at the same time, it gave me the opportunity where I met somebody [and] ended up getting a job out of it. So there were a lot of good things that came from EBV — that's just one great example of what it does.
Weekly: And the Dream Machine initiative?
Martinez: Dream Machine is a partnership between PepsiCo, Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful that launched this year on Earth Day. They said, "We want to give an opportunity to the nation to recycle, go green and keep this place clean. On top of that, let's make it so that every time someone donates, Dream Machine will donate to EBV." PepsiCo has made it kind of cool [to donate]: The Dream Machine is a big blue kiosk; I think they're in 14 states right now. The goal is to have them all over the place, to make it really easy for people to recycle.
Weekly: But there's more, right? People who recycle can win stuff.
Martinez: When people recycle, they get points. After you accumulate so many points, you can go online and get prizes. On top of that, PepsiCo donating to EBV will ultimately expand the program and give more veterans an opportunity to chase that entrepreneurial goal. It's win-win across the board: it keeps the country clean, gives the people an opportunity to get [involved] and get prizes, and at the end of the day, it's also helping our veterans.
Weekly: This event will publicize all of it.
Martinez: Yeah. Veterans Week is a great time to kick off anything related to veterans. We're partnering with the Miami Dolphins. They're actually going to have kiosks all around the stadium, so we're gonna catch all the fans coming to watch their lovely Dolphins and say, "Hey, instead of throwing that away in the regular trash, let's recycle that." We tried it before in Tampa Bay, and it worked very well — to the point where people were very open and said, "We don't want the points; we'll just recycle." We're just happy that the Dolphins were able to jump on board and say, "You know what? We love the idea of it, and you can do it down here."
Weekly: Excellent. Will you stay involved in EBV?
Martinez: Oh, yeah, absolutely; I firmly believe when vets come home from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether they're severely injured or not, it is difficult. When you go from knowing the military life — for me it was a few months, to guys that have known it for a few years — it is difficult to get back into the civilian world, especially with this tough economy, and say we're gonna get a job and support our family and be independent. What EBV does is give them that mindset, and the tools and the capacity to be able to go out there and say, "All right, we're gonna roll out our ideas and run with them."
Weekly: How can those who can't attend the big events like the one on the 14th contribute to the cause?
Martinez: You can download an app on facebook.com/dreammachine. And the good thing is, having been to the Facebook page, a lot of people come to it and say, "Well, I'm in South Carolina," or "I'm in Washington State, can you get one here?" When you hear that kind of enthusiasm from people, it really makes you excited; it makes you think, "Wow, not only are we [going to] keep it clean, keep it safe where we live, but at the same time, it's gonna help our vets, who did service for this country."
Weekly: I think it's fabulous. I hear you'll also be on the field with the Dolphins.
Martinez: I'll try to make my debut (laughs). You know, take it from daytime drama to maybe a little sports drama, and see if we can make the cut. I figure if natural talent can take me to be an actor on AMC, then maybe natural talent can take me to be a player on the field!
For more, check out our exclusive online video interview with J.R. Martinez here