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This week we are so thrilled to celebrate National Volunteer Week because volunteers are so important to us at Jolkona. A volunteer is a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking and someone who offers a service willingly without pay (Dictionary.com, 2013)

In 2011, it’s estimated that almost 8.1 billion hours were spent volunteering which equates to every single American volunteering for an entire day without sleeping! Furthermore, within each age group the Millenials (ages 16-33) and Generation X (ages 33-45) contributed over 50% of the annual volunteerism.

What does this all mean to Jolkona? We are a small organization that is powered by numerous volunteers and interns. Thanks to the dedication of others’ generosity and love for volunteerism, Jolkona has completed many amazing projects, such as building a new website, launching a new giving program, implementing fantastic blog posts and social media campaigns, visiting partner projects around the world, endless fundraising and social event planning and execution and much, much more. We are so thankful for our volunteers! And one volunteer in particular that we wanted to feature this month is Chi Do.

 

Chi has been with Jolkona for the last few years now helping out in various aspects. Chi started helping out on the events team and also on the partner management team where she helped create and conduct a survey with some of our non-profit partners to help us improve our features for them. In addition to running an array of fundraising campaigns for Jolkona partners over the years, she also organized a huge Jolkona event at Microsoft last year that raised over $7,000. Chi came up with the idea and took initiative to host the “Night of Fashion and Giving”, a multi-faceted event including overseeing over 20 volunteer models, compiling numerous cultural and ethnic outfits from around the world and organizing donated food for over 100 guests. She has also traveled with the Jolkona team on 2 international trips to visit partners and volunteer, and is always eager to do more! This year Chi is heading up our events committee and we’re confident that she’ll help build a stronger, more engaged community of supporters of Jolkona in Seattle.

Recently on a sign up sheet for 2013 Jolkona activities, when asked “What would you like to do for Jolkona?” Chi wrote “Anything and Everything :)” This sums up Chi’s passion for Jolkona and volunteerism.

Here’s what some other people at Jolkona had to say about Chi:

“Chi is among one of the most caring and compassionate people I’ve met, which makes for a great volunteer and friend. One of the things I love most about Chi is that she not only enjoys having a good time, but she is very organized and committed to her responsibilities. She is a great volunteer because she makes volunteering fun and is always willing to help out with anything, from tabling at an event, to organizing volunteers and more. I am so grateful to have Chi as part of the Jolkona team and helping to grow our community this year through our new events strategy.” -Nadia Mahmud

“Chi has contributed to various events – Fashion Show, multiple Giving Campaigns, and is currently the director of the events team. She has amazing passion for Jolkona and we have always been able to count on her to get things done on time! She is a big reason for our successful fashion show at the giving campaign at Microsoft in 2012. Working with Chi and knowing her over the past 3+ years has been an incredible experience. We are glad to have her as part of Jolkona!” -Pavan Potaraju

“Chi put together a great fashion show for the Microsoft Giving Campaign. She was meticulous with detail and kept us excited and energized the whole way through. She is also an awesome chef and always made incredible food at our events. We also bonded through a flight delay disaster at Peru at a Jolkona trip years ago. Chi is very dedicated volunteer and we are so lucky to have her on the team!” -Nancy Xu

Thank you, Chi for all the work, effort, and time you have given to Jolkona!

Do you take time to help others on a regular basis? Do you give your time and resources to another cause in need? Are you sharing volunteer opportunities with others in your network? Are you interested in volunteering for Jolkona? Email as at contact@jolkona.org.

You can also help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter,  Pinterest, and Instagram.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, I attended a sold out screening of the film, Girl Rising. The energy in the theater was thick with anticipation and empowerment. As the film began, a hush fell over the crowd. Embracing every second of this amazing film, I learned of 9 girls from 9 different countries- Afghanistan, Haiti, Peru, Nepal, India, Egypt, Cambodia, Ethiopia and the Sierra Leone. Each girl faced with different life challenges from child marriage to abandonment, from the lack of education to violence, and much more. The main theme throughout is the power of education and how so many girls, millions of them, lack educational opportunities.

My heart swelled with sadness and disappointment as each story comes to life. Feelings of hopelessness overwhelmed me and my faith in mankind began to dwindle- how could so many girls be denied their right to freedom, to education, to choosing for themselves? And slowly, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, each girl showed strength and a fierceness that will not die. Each girl overcame her obstacle and displayed grace, light and pride in doing so.

As a mother of a young baby, my view of the world has changed this past year. Issues such as free and available education to every day safety become a common part of my every day thinking. In the film, Wadley a bright 8 year old Haitian girl is troubled as her world is changed forever after the terrible earthquake in Port au Prince. An estimated 80% of schools in Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed during the earthquake. Prior to the earthquake, about 40% of children were unable to pay school fees. Only 60% of Haitian children have the opportunity to attend primary school and only 20% go to secondary school. About 50% of all Haitians are literate.

With constant drive and fearlessness, Wadley returns to the makeshift tent school house every day, even when turned away because her mother could not pay the school fees. “I will come back every day until I can stay” she proudly reports. To Wadley, education is the key to her success in life and developing mind. Eventually, she wins and the teacher allows her to stay. With my child always on my mind, I pondered “What would I do if education wasn’t free or available for my young child? Would I send him to the local school house every day to try to be accepted?” Absolutely!

Statistics for education among young girls in developing countries is staggering:

  • Around 11 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are classed as illiterate.
  • Worldwide, around 776 million adults and young people over the age of 15 cannot read or write – just under two thirds of them female.

– Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

  • Studies show that every year of schooling increasing a girl’s future earning power by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Less than half a cent of every development dollar goes to programs specifically for girls, particularly those ages 10-14.
  • Girls make up more than half of the world’s 143 million out-of-school youth.

– Girl Up, United Nations Foundation

What can you do to encourage the Wadley’s of the world to fight for their right to be educated? What can you to do lift up women and girls around the world? What can you do to encourage equal rights for all? Through Jolkona and the Give2Girls campaign going on right now, projects and causes all over the world need your donations so organizations can continue the strong work and empowerment, helping so many girls in this world. And for a limited time, the first $2,500 in donations made towards women and girls will be matched by the Seattle International Foundation. So give what you can, give today! Educate girls! See Girl Rising! Find a screening here.

Jolkona is proud to be a part of this movement to support and empower women through the Give2Girls campaign. You can also be a part of this movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.

Note from the Editor: today is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also Generosity Day. We wanted to honor the generosity of Megan Fleming and all the stalwart work and time she has given to Jolkona. Be inspired by her generosity.

Megan Fleming, Jolkona volunteer since 2010, is a part of the Social Media and Communications team. Previously with Banyan Branch and now working on the Social Innovation team at Waggener Edstrom (where a few other stellar Jolkona volunteers also work), Megan is taking the lead on Twitter engagement for Jolkona and we are so grateful for her contributions.

In addition to the hours she spends tweeting for Jolkona, she also has assisted in procuring and fundraising for Jolkona’s annual fundraiser Corks n’ Forks as well as participating in strategic planning sessions.

Megan’s passion for volunteerism started before she came to Jolkona. Traveling through South East Asia in 2009 and 2010, Megan explored Cambodia. As she traveled to the beaches of Sihanoukville she witnessed the ugliness of pedophilia, sex tourism and general lack of respect for young children living in poverty.

Wanting to help these children, who live on less than $1 a day, she dedicated her time and energy to CCPP Cambodian Children’s Painting Project. At CCPP children not only have a safe place to visit, but also can learn and play.

At CCPP, children complete 2 paintings a day and then the pieces are sold at a gallery for $4 each. $2 goes to the child and the other $2 goes back to the program. Additionally, there are English lessons, typing classes, arts and crafts as well as games. They also experience field trips and receive hot meals, dental care, health care and clothing if needed.

Megan worked with children ranging in age from 1.5- 18 years old and came home with stories of little ones that warmed her heart, made her laugh and always had a smile for her. After her travels, Megan started working in social media and joined Jolkona as a volunteer to continue working towards funding global development and spreading awareness about Jolkona and its partners.

“One of the things I love most about Megan is her passion and enthusiasm for global development and poverty alleviation and her commitment to use her professional skills and expertise to give back.  For the past couple of years, Megan has been an instrumental piece of our social media engagement with donors and supporters and has helped keep our community engaged and aware of what’s going on with Jolkona and how they can help.  She’s also is willing to help support other teams and spread the word about Jolkona as needed which is always great in a small organization.  We’ve loved having her involved and a part of the Jolkona team!”  -Nadia Mahmud 

“As the person in charge of this blog, having people spread the word about what we’re saying is essential. Megan has totally been that person. That makes Megan essential. But it’s more than just spreading the word; it’s about believing in the message and wholeheartedly getting behind it. Megan has done this, and this is indispensable. She’s been the perfect confluence of passion, enthusiasm, and professionalism. Thank you, Megan!” – Gabriel St. John 

Megan has been an instrumental part of our social media success and is in charge of much of our engagement with our amazing tweets. Because Jolkona doesn’t spend any money on marketing or advertising, we really rely on the power of social media to outreach and spread awareness of our work and the amazing partners we work with. We are so thankful for Megan’s continued contributions and energy. Thank you Megan for being a part of Jolkona over the past couple years!

You can follow Megan on Twitter @MegMarieF.

Be inspired; be generous. Make a difference today. 

Share the love with those in need this Generosity Day by making a donation through Jolkona.

Or send one of Jolkona’s Valentine’s Day gift cards to the ones you love.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and re-pin our pins on Pinterest.

In September, two incredibly generous and loving people came together to celebrate their union and marriage! Sarah Whittemore and Phil Dao planned a beautiful wedding in Marion, MA at the Kittansett Club without missing a single detail. To thank all their attendees and celebrate their shared passion in giving back to the community, they creatively thought “What if the wedding favor is a charitable donation?” This beautiful idea transpired into a small donation card that enabled guests to make a choice from three charitable projects featured on the Jolkona platform. Jolkona makes it easy to give directly to low-cost, high-impact philanthropic opportunities around the world. Sarah and Phil have been generous supporters of Jolkona over the last several years. And to make their donations even more impactful, Sarah works at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that generously matches employee donations $3 for every $1 donated.

The selected Jolkona projects Sarah and Phil selected for their wedding favors focused on education and providing support to people in Vietnam, where Phil is originally from:

Barakat
Work to increase female literacy rates in Afghanistan, which are currently only 14%. Mothers can bring infants to classes to make learning more convenient.

Kenyan Education Fund
Helping children break the cycle of poverty, KEF provides financial assistance and support so students can attend secondary school.

Upcoming project: PeaceTrees Vietnam – Trieu Trung Library

Funding books, newspapers and magazines for the future library that provide a meeting and training place for the village level Women’s Union in Vietnam.

This generous wedding favor idea is a great example of two people showcasing their love and generosity on many levels. Philanthropy and marriage, what a beautiful couple!

GET INVOLVED!