Back in college, I was the philanthropy poster child. In my business fraternity, I was on our philanthropy committee for five or six semesters (when only once or twice per committee was typical) and was the chair for two of those semesters (again, usually you only chair a committee once) before they had to give someone else the opportunity, haha. (Yes, I was that girl that was on extra committees, just because. 🙄 Overachiever has always been in my vocabulary unfortunately.) Obviously, giving back to our college community and beyond was a big part of my why, but I’ve always genuinely enjoyed planning events, specifically when it’s for a good cause.
In addition to organizing countless weekly volunteer opportunities to get our members involved in the community, my college bestie, Ellen, and I planned so many fundraising events together. Hunt 4 Haiti was an epic campus-wide scavenger hunt that benefited Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010. And then when Ellen was the philanthropy chair the semester after I wasn’t, she started Compete for a Cure. Since then, it’s grown into an annual event that’s raised over $200,000 to support different charities supporting cancer research. It’s so crazy, I remember helping her plan that event like it was yesterday.
Admittedly, though, I totally fell off the wagon after college. Other than a few fundraisers for the National MS Society when I was living in NYC, I’ve let life get in the way of giving back. Of course, I’ve donated tons of clothing, products, supplies, and money whenever I can, but I haven’t gotten involved in a larger way for a number of years.
Since Remote Year places a heavy emphasis on Positive Impact, I knew that this four-month program could be the perfect launching pad for me to get back into the philanthropic space. When our RY program leader asked if anyone was interested in being our Positive Impact lead for the group, I volunteered right away.
In Lima, since we were just getting adjusted to this whole new program and way of life, we only volunteered once as a group, but we still made an impact nonetheless! On our third Sunday, we volunteered at Inspira, a non-profit in Lima that provides housing, food, and support for families with children who are in Lima receiving treatment for cancer and other clinical procedures. Remote Year goes there every month to help with specific task and projects (like painting, cleaning, etc.) and spending time with the kids to lift their spirits by playing and having fun during this hard time. In September, us Kahlitos tore out old sod and laid down turf scraps for a soccer field (or should I say fútbol field? 😜) for the kids to play on. And we got the play soccer and jump on the trampoline with a few of the kids afterwards! The soccer field isn’t totally permanent, as it’s actually on a lot that Inspira hopes to be able to build on one day… Which leads me to my next point…
There’s actually something you can do to help out from afar! Ricardo, the lovely man that runs Inspira, is currently up for a CNN Heroes award, which means he’s in the running for a $100,000 grant. He runs Inspira almost single-handedly and this money would truly transform the organization! It’s totally free and so easy to vote… And you can vote up to 10x per day. It would mean so much to me if you took a minute to vote for Ricardo and share in any way you see fit! (cough, cough: Twitter, FB, IG Stories, etc.)
And then in Medellin, our group got involved in a few different initiatives! We had two fundraising events to help support our November PI partnership (more on that below!) and got involved with multiple organizations in the community.
First up, Las Golondrinas! You may have seen it on my Insta Stories, but with the support of previous RY groups, an urban orchard has been created at Las Golondrinas with the purpose of connecting the kids back to their roots. These sweet kids and their families have been forced to leave their land due to the violence of the guerrilla and drug wars, so Remote Year helps fund the maintenance for their garden, as well as comes in on a few Friday afternoons each month to help the kids with tending to the garden. The kids were the cutest and it was so fun practicing Spanish with them while we were gardening and doing arts and crafts afterward!
While we were in Medellin last month, our amazing program leader, Jen, also established connections for two new initiatives for Remote Year to get involved with! One of which is a school and soccer program in Comuna 13, which was once one of the most dangerous communities in Medellin. This soccer school was started in 2007 as a way to give the kids a sport to focus on, taking them away from social problems like gangs and drugs, but it’s ended up being “home” for the boys and girls.
And the second is Cultivando Sonrisas, which provides a safe home for girls (ages 0-18), who are at risk of physical and sexual abuse, and exploitation in Medellin. Their goal is to provide a safe and loving place for each girl to call home throughout their childhood and adolescents. They aim to help each girl complete her education successfully and have a smooth transition into adulthood, just as any parent would help their own child! (You can read more here.)
And now for Bogota this month… the grand finalé of partnerships! In Bogota, Remote Year partners with TECHO, an organization that facilitates the building of transitional housing in vulnerable neighborhoods outside of Bogota. Many of these families had to flee their permanent homes to escape violence, and as a result, currently live in one of the world’s largest “mega-slums.” Now, they are just trying to find a way to give their loved ones a brighter future. Remote Year contributes through fundraising to buy the materials to build the houses, as well as the manual labor of building the homes.
A little less than a year ago, Remote Year group “Yugen” took this PI partnership and blew it out of the water! Yugen set a goal to raise the funds to build FIFTY EIGHT (yes, 58) homes for families in need through their Yugen Build project. (They’ve since raised over $89,000!) Since then, Remote Year has built four houses and has plans to build many more. (You can read more about the inception of Yugen Build here!)
And this where Kahlo, my RY group, comes in… Each Remote Year group that comes through Bogota is tasked with building a house with TECHO! One part is fundraising a portion of the money to cover the materials (the rest is subsidized from the Yugen Build fund), one part is dedicating a weekend of our month here to physically building the house (similar to Habitat for Humanity!).
In a very poetic way, our weekend build here in Bogota is scheduled for this weekend, Thanksgiving weekend! We’ll be building the house this Saturday and Sunday and will even get to meet the family that will be moving in. ❤️
Piggybacking Yugen’s incredible fundraising efforts, we’re actually hoping to fully fund our own build, without having to dip into Yugen’s fund. Our goal is to raise at least $3,000 to fund an entire home, but we’re shooting for the stars!
In the spirit of giving this month, if you’re looking to donate to any important causes, I’d so appreciate you giving to our cause! Each and and every donation (and dollar) counts — and no amount is too small. (And in full transparency, 90% of donation to TECHO goes towards the actual building of the houses.) Donations are tax deductible, too! They are a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of US law. To claim a donation as a deduction on your US taxes, please keep your email donation receipt as your official record. You will automatically be sent an email receipt upon successful completion of your donation!
If you are so inclined to make a donation on our behalf, please just put “Remote Year KAHLO” in the comment portion when submitting payment. I know it’s a bit confusing with all of the “Yugen” mentions on the donation site, but just pretend that it says Remote Year, they’re essentially interchangeable. 😊
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your endless support! xo