Meet Brian Echevarria – 2022 Salt and Light
My name is Brian Echevarria. Everyone has an interesting life. Some may tell their story better or have a life that is a little more exciting, adventurous, or accomplished than mine. Yet our stories, while unique, are more similar than they are different. It’s the human experience.
Like you, in my story – there are successes and failures, advantages and disadvantages, right and wrong decisions, and of course, all the sorrows and joys that are a part of life on earth.
On a November Monday, I was born to a teenage mother and father in Miami, Florida. The words “teenage pregnancy” and “single-parent family” connected all kinds of stigma to a baby born in the ’70s. However, as if that were not enough, God would allow me to be the child of a white father and black mother to add to the adventure. My mother is of Bahamian descent; our family came here in the ‘50s for better opportunities. I hit the lottery with a last name that seemed like no one outside of Miami could pronounce until the early 2000’s because my father is of Cuban descent; my grandparents escaped the horrors of Fidel Castro and communist Cuba for a better life in the United States of America.
That background makes me biracial, bilingual, and multicultural, and on top of that, we were “poor.” In hindsight, my family was a part of the lower working class – we were not homeless nor starving, but on the other hand, we were not overfed and didn’t take many trips to the fancy parts of town. Courtesy of my grandpa, going to dinner at a restaurant named Tony Romas was my annual birthday outing. My perception of “rich” was to eat baby back ribs at Tony Romas, and I was rich on my birthday! In the ‘70s and early ‘80s, only my grandparents had air conditioning, the unit hung out of their bedroom window, so I would sneak in their room to get some cool air during hot, muggy Florida nights. So, like 95% of Americans in the ’70s, I was not born to a wealthy family.
Having young single parents, who never married, presented its challenges. As they grew and matured, I found a home with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and gracious families that would rent my mother a room during my early years. The advantage to that nomadic way of life was that I had lived in Miami, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; San Bernadino, California; and other places before I was ten years old. While writing this, I realized that I attended 12 schools from kindergarten through high school. The accidental benefit is that I love meeting new people, appreciate the life others live, and love those who are different from me.
However, soon my mother made two outstanding decisions – she joined the Navy and married my stepfather, who is greatly responsible for teaching me lessons like commitment and hard work. Their careers, spanning 25 and 30 years, took me to Jacksonville, Florida, and Spain, as a teenager. In hindsight, the stability my mother and stepfather provided is likely responsible for me never being arrested like many who did not have the same foundation at home. My father hung out with the wrong people and made fewer outstanding decisions which landed him in prison to pay for them. Still, as more proof that America is the greatest nation on earth, he has an exceptional career with the government and is happily married to my stepmother, a project manager.
Fast forward. Upon completing my quasi-exile to my uncle in Alaska (ask me about that in person), I went home to live with my parents and graduated High School in Jacksonville, Florida. I attended Florida A&M and Florida State University, where I tried my best to ruin my life; nothing crazy, but I was young and continued to rebel. I don’t enjoy alcohol. However, I was part of the overwhelming majority of Americans who drank alcohol at some point in their lives. No habits, but I did go to more than a few parties, and I confess I probably had too much fun.
Like most college students, my mission was to figure out what I would do for the rest of my life and how to be successful – or really, how to make money! I was such a broke college student that, in 1998, I bounced a check a little more than a year out of high school; I don’t know which financial literacy class would’ve helped with not having enough money, but it could have been useful!
However, I became a Christian and immediately knew I would serve Jesus in gratitude for the rest of my life. He gave me purpose and peace, two things we all desire. In my heart, I thought I would never marry and instead preach the gospel in some jungle of the world. Thankfully, God had another plan; I am married, well-educated, and informed. Humans have regrets; one of mine is that I am like most Americans and do not have a college degree. While I did not find it necessary for me then or now, no success has undone that “something I didn’t finish” feeling.
I moved back to Miami, where I planned to attend ministry school. However, I ended up in the wholesale business importing and exporting health, beauty, and medical-surgical supplies and met Cynthia, my lovely wife. Church attendance was a constant for me; like many people of faith, everything in my life revolves around service to Jesus. While I admired my pastor, I began to understand that I would not be a pastor. The marketplace is where I found my service most fruitful. Leading people to Christ and helping people do well are two passions; the marketplace is where I find the most abundant opportunity to do those two things.
In January 2006, my wife and I moved to Harrisburg, North Carolina, where we purchased the home we live in today. We wanted to start a family and felt this would be the best place to raise our children. North Carolina provided the opportunities we wanted for our life and family; safety, solid Christian values, business opportunities, and pleasant people. My wife continued her banking career at Bank of America. My mother-in-law moved with us and enjoyed a short retirement before clocking in as a full-time grandma. I started a construction business and taught concealed carry handgun classes as I continued my marketplace service to the Lord.
In 2009, we enjoyed our lifestyle in North Carolina with two children, thriving careers, a business, amazing friends, and a new home that I was able to build for my wife in Concord, NC. However, I felt like the rich young ruler in the Bible whom Jesus told to give up all he had and follow Him. My wife and I gave away everything we could and moved to Costa Rica. It was among the happiest times of my life. We could not find families who could take over our properties during that process, so we filed for bankruptcy. We lost three of four properties, but it ended up being what was best. It wasn’t the most efficient, but it happened! Though I had my reasons and knew millions of other Americans and businesses had filed for bankruptcy, it didn’t feel any better seeing it on my credit report a few years later!
Upon our return from mission work in Costa Rica, with the help of family, friends, and our community, we had to start again. We returned to our original home in Harrisburg, North Carolina, at the end of 2012. I continued my career and construction business as my wife gave birth to our third child, continued homeschooling, opened C3-Cynthia’s Coffee Cup, and became a North Carolina Real Estate Broker. America is the only place that makes a grand comeback possible.
We appreciate our family and our great friends in North Carolina. We have continued to be blessed and thankful for the successes in our lives, including nearly 20 years of marriage. Family is my story; I love being married to my wife and being a father to my children. 2020 was tough in many ways, but it did have the plus of being stuck in the house for a couple of months making silly TikToks, playing with my children, and chasing my wife. We have so much fun together; my family is my hobby.
However, as a witness to the economic, cultural, and value changes we’ve seen here and across the nation, I see the need to serve our community. As a parent, I understand that we all want to give our families a better future—a future of freedom and better opportunities than we had. We need leaders in our state government to help secure that future. In ten years, our children will enjoy greater opportunities than we have or far less. This moment in history is making a demand of us.
Cabarrus County families do not live life on a spreadsheet or in a fringe case study. Our families are where the rubber hits the road – not as a good gesture or some anti-family utopia envisioned by fringe organizations or far left and right entertainers on social media. We have real-life bills to pay, groceries to buy, school decisions to make, family crises and talks to get through, college costs to consider, health care needs, concerns about rising crime and school safety, and taxes that affect our children and the world we live in every day. My hopes for the future are high. However, most of us realize there is work to be done.
Together we can win this moment and make North Carolina the best state to live, work, prosper, and raise a family. Having been involved with the financial, import/export, and construction industries, I will use the skills acquired not simply to fight but win for you. We can no longer afford to celebrate efforts alone; trying is good, but the future needs us to win. The “what about our families” side of the conversation seems to be on the losing side of the debate far too often. Our community needs lower taxes across the board, not simply a fight for it. The same goes for school safety, getting law enforcement the funding they need, parents’ rights, and securing the freedoms violated by mandates; we need wins, not just fights. Who would have imagined that we could go from religious liberty to Governors telling people they must stay in their homes and can’t go to church?
Again, the future needs us to win. I am ready to work with everyone necessary to secure those wins and ask for your support and vote to allow me to represent us in the North Carolina House.