My BNI® Story

BNI, A Family Affair

This Member Success Story was submitted by Daniel L. Haverman, President Business Exchange Chapter and Ambassador Palm Beach Region.

We all know that BNI is a community of business leaders, but for some… it’s more than that. 

How would you feel if you found out a member of your BNI chapter was actually a member of your family? Such is the case of Giselle and Zoraya Camilo, whose story is the epitome of a serendipitous encounter.

In 1969, Juan Camillo and his wife, natives of the Dominican Republic, moved to the United States. Years later, while living in Miami, Florida, their daughter Giselle Camilo was born.

Concurrently, Juan’s first cousin, Felipe Camilo, was living with his family in the Dominican Republic. Upon reaching an appropriate age, his daughter, Zoraya Camilo, moved to the United States. She ended up settling in Palm Beach County with no knowledge of Giselle’s existence.

As coincidence would have it, Giselle who was a longstanding BNI Member owns an Allstate Insurance Agency in the same county.

One day, Giselle was contacted by her chapter’s home inspector whose client was in the process of purchasing a home. However, before the client could close, they were in need of home insurance – a service that Giselle often provided.

Sight unseen, Giselle quickly contacted the referral, who… if you haven’t already guessed, was Zoraya Camilo. While discussing the various options available, Zoraya asked Giselle if Camilo is her maiden name, which it is. Zoraya enthusiastically responded in kind, as that is her maiden name as well. They both then realized that they were from the Dominican Republic, further fueling their interest in each other’s backgrounds as the surname is quite uncommon in the Dominican Republic. They both jokingly agreed that “they must be related”.

What happened next would change their lives forever. After a little research and a few phone calls to several family members, they found out that their fathers are first cousins. Not only have they become close, but Giselle believes that she found more than a long-lost cousin. In her mind, “Zoraya is like a sister to me”.

At BNI, we often talk about building relationships, and this story goes to show how our Core Values go beyond just business. They become ingrained in our everyday lives and are reflected in our actions, both personally and professionally.

Zoraya, who saw the power of referrals first-hand is now joining BNI as part of Giselle’s new Core Group. An incredible addition to our growing community of leaders.

And that’s not all – thanks to BNI, not only are Giselle and Zoraya united, but their fathers, Juan and Felipe, have had the opportunity to reconnect as well. BNI truly is a family affair!

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