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Sep 252017
 

Every year, KKOOM supports continuing education for young adults by providing college scholarships to students that grew up at Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi, South Korea. We help provide a smoother transition out of high school to those who want to pursue an undergraduate degree. For the fall semester, we’ve granted four scholarships to students we’ve supported through their 1st and 2nd year in college. They are diligent with their academic studies as they’ve maintained an average 3.84 GPA during the spring semester. Read below to see how their fall semester has been so far:

Mingyu, 2nd year, at Gumi College, Major: Hospitality and Cooking.

Mingyu is dedicated to continuously improve his baking skills. For summer vacation, he traveled to Daegu to sell bread in a shop and through this hands-on experience, he learned more about bread making outside of the classroom. During a practice test of making bread, he made some mistakes with the lack of taste, but his results were still good. While he had some regrets, he’s okay with making mistakes as long as there is a continued desire to learn and grow. KKOOM loves his positive attitude! This semester, he plans on using his scholarship money for basic school needs and saving up to receive his baking certification. He appreciates KKOOM supporting his college degree from the very beginning and hopes to continue being funded until his very last semester.

Yonghoon, 1st year, at World Cyber University, Major: Social Welfare

Yonghoon is thankful to just be in college and that KKOOM supported his first semester because he did not worry much about how to pay for his school fees. While his first semester was difficult learning new words and terminology, he is excited to dive deeper into what it means to be a social worker. KKOOM asked Yonghoon if he had anything to share with our donors and he said gratefully, “Thank you for your help and support. I will give thanks to God for this grace.” He has a servant heart to give back. In the next five years, he’d like to work at his university in the Social Welfare Department to serve others or work at a senior welfare center.

Minyeal, 2nd year, at World Cyber University, Major: Pastoral Studies

Minyeal’s hardest struggle recently was finding a balance between work and studying – haven’t we all struggled with this? His greatest accomplishment last semester though was his perseverance to improve his GPA. While it went from a 3.9 to 3.8 GPA, he is still proud of his hard work. This reminds us how life is about 1,000 small steps – progress is made over a period of time. His dream is to become a world-wide praise minister working in marginalized communities to decrease the wealth gap between the poor and rich. We believe in you Minyeal. You can do it! He would love to see KKOOM sponsor volunteer service trips to other countries to see, taste, and experience other cultures to learn about life outside of South Korea’s borders.

Yeonhwa, 2nd year, at Yeungjin College, Major: Business Management

Yeonhwa is very proud that she has concentrated diligently on her studies with a 4.1 GPA while having a job. During her summer vacation, she visited Malaysia with high school friends. She enjoyed gaining a global perspective, while seeing the world in a slightly wider field of view. Her scholarship will help pay for her living expenses this semester and she is excited for graduation in February. Five years from now, she wants to work for a company in a high position, living with a family, and living a better life than she has now. As she graduates soon, she shares to KKOOM donors “I want to say thank you for your help anytime, anywhere. You have been a great sponsor for a long time. Thank You. I will live a day when I am satisfied with everything I have learned in college after I graduate.”

We cannot thank our KKOOM supporters enough for providing career opportunities for these four students. Your generosity is allowing these young adults to thrive in their studies while learning more life skills every day. To continue supporting our college scholarship program, we would love if you shared our work with your friends and co-workers. Together, we can help make a difference in these young adult lives.

 Posted by at 12:06 pm

Celebrating Communities in Action – Jerusalem Ministry Soccer Camp

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Sep 112017
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a saying “We are blessed to be a blessing unto others.” Over the years, KKOOM has not only supported Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi and Emmanuel’s Children Home in Gimcheon, but we have had the unique opportunity to financially assist other children homes in South Korea.

KKOOM provided funds for Jerusalem Ministry’s annual soccer camp – photo credit to Hannah Chong and Sky Becker

Every year, we provide funding to Jerusalem Ministry in August so they can host a soccer camp for boys across the Korean peninsula. This year, our 500,000 KRW donation allowed them to take their volunteers and soccer boys to cool down at the swimming pool. We also helped Jerusalem Ministry provide shade to the kids during the hot summer days with the purchase of a canopy.

Funds are made possible for programs such as the soccer camp through our Volunteer Led Project application. Organizations can request funds to provide additional funding for things, such as but not limited to quarterly meetings, volunteer travels abroad, camps, art activities, and much more. Thanks to the generous support from our donors, these funds are readily available to extend a helping hand to our friends in other organizations who are advocating for South Korean orphans like KKOOM every day.

To read more about Jerusalem Ministry’s soccer camp and stories of student transformations, please click herePhoto credit to Hannah Chong and Sky Becker from Jerusalem Ministry. 

 Posted by at 11:37 am

Learning to Swim at Everland Amusement Park

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Sep 042017
 

In early August 2017, KKOOM Board Member, Bill Downey, traveled to South Korea. He visited the students at Samsungwon Orphanage and even joined them at a local amusement park. We asked Bill if he could share a few of his experiences below:

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Each year in August during the school break, the children, staff and volunteers from Samsungwon visit a water park, go camping or a combination of things and this year they went to Everland Amusement Park, just south of Seoul for 3 days and 2 nights.

Everland is your typical amusement park with various rides, theme presentations as well as a water park and zoo-type exhibit called Zootopia.  This is a good destination as it has something for all ages and interests.   I had a chance to spend some time with the kids on their first full day and visit a couple of the theme areas and have lunch with everyone.  The food was quite good and the park was very well organized, clean and for a day that was near 100 degrees and high humidity, people were handling the crowds and heat in a patient, good-natured way.

This was also my first time without Aimee Jachym’s assistance with language interpretation so I had to sink or swim!  I regret my progress over the past four years in learning Korean has been less than I had hoped. I did manage to cobble together a few sentences here and there and when in a pinch, pull out my trusty Samsung Satellite 8+ and use Google translate.  Maybe not the best way to communicate but it would have to do for now.  I think I needed to be put in a situation that would motivate me to try learning Korean quicker!

Kids are amazing!  As hot as it was, they seemed to be having a terrific time.  It is great for them to have an opportunity to get away from the city and their normal routines, doing things that all kids do.  Time to relax and play are integral in helping them to develop into well-rounded people and your donations help to provide them the opportunity to have these types of activities.  Your support is critical in helping us continue to provide these kinds of activities and support and the kids appreciate it as do we here at KKOOM!

Regarding communicating during my visit, I didn’t sink but I didn’t swim, either.  Let’s say I was able to float and hope to be able to tread water, in Korean by my next trip to South Korea!

NOTE: As part of our commitment to KKOOM and our donors, Board Member Bill personally funded his travel and expenses to attend the Everland trip in South Korea. 

Written by Bill Downey, KKOOM Board of Directors

“Just Go With The Flow:” Board Retreat Reflections

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Aug 282017
 

Boston. Four Board Members and Me. One weekend. I started working for Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission (KKOOM) on May 24th. Two months later, I was asked by Aimee, KKOOM’s President, to plan and facilitate the Annual Board Retreat for KKOOM. No pressure at all. I have planned an inaugural retreat for leadership groups and have experience creating events in college, but this was a new first in my list of experiences.

If there’s one takeaway I have from our Boston weekend together from July 21st to July 23rd, it’d be this: Just go with the flow. I arrived at Logan International Airport in Boston one day prior to the start of the retreat, as I knew I wanted some time to explore the beautiful city I once visited in my childhood days. So I hopped off the plane into a shuttle bus that took me directly to the MBTA subway station. Determined to find a museum I searched for, I was in transit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. While taking photos and enjoying the pieces of art Isabella collected as a French connoisseur, my phone died. It was strange because it wasn’t low on battery and the phone also felt overheated.

A kind lady at the museum helped me with directions to a local Apple store – “It’s just about one mile away…..” More like three miles, walking aimlessly in a city I didn’t know, with a luggage getting stares from strangers because of the rolling sounds against the concrete sidewalks. While I was a bit frazzled to take care of this before meeting with a college friend for dinner, I was at peace. My intent to travel to Boston one day before the retreat gave me exactly what I was looking for – adventures. During my extended trek across Boston by foot, I passed by several colleges – Berklee College of Music, Boston University, Boston College, to name a few. Not only did I pass by colleges, I was walking through metropolitan Boston, a major thoroughfare known as Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave. I saw vibrant millennials and working adults in suburban neighborhoods, people being chatty cathy’s at restaurants catching up with friends, or family tourists exploring like me. I made it to the Apple store, safe and sound, my phone was working properly and in due time, met up with my friend. Sometimes, it’s not the destination, but the journey getting there that makes it memorable.

The Board Retreat started the next day after my unplanned adventures through the Boston streets. While being the youngest amongst the Board Members and meeting some people for the first time, I knew our time together would be fruitful. A casual dinner at a Cambodian French Fusion Restaurant near our AirBnB unofficially kicked off our retreat Friday evening.

The Board Members and I come from all across the United States, living in Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Georgia, California, and Massachusetts. What brings us together is our common ties to South Korea and our passion to help improve the lives of South Korean orphans. We spent our formal meeting time discussing program highlights and strategy, including how we can continue to grow KKOOM to have a bigger long-term impact.

To create a personal connection to the children in South Korea and our donors, we wrote handwritten notes – such a lost art of communication in today’s society. Using colorful sharpie markers, we thanked donors for their generosity and put stickers on candy bags saying “Have a great summer” for kids at Samsungwon Orphanage. Luckily, one of our Board Members went to South Korea recently to explore Ever Land with the children and hand deliver the candy bags to them (blog post coming soon about this fun trip).

Our Saturday evening was spent exploring Harvard Square before having dinner with former KKOOM volunteer and friends. We ate at Kaju Tofu House to enjoy some Korean food together; the Korean stone pot dishes with engaging conversations was the perfect blend for an enjoyable evening. We got to catch up with former volunteer Jaehwan, who is now a PhD student at MIT. While living in South Korea, he interned with Samsung to execute an ongoing photography project with the children from Samsungwon Orphanage. He said he missed the kids but loves keeping up with them through a Korean group texting app; after dinner, he immediately sent them a group photo of us in Boston. The Board finally got to meet Liat, a recent donor and rising sophomore at Brandeis University. As a Korean adoptee, she is enthusiastic about continuing to support KKOOM’s mission as she recently raised $150 to support our Welcome Boost Program, which provides new clothing and basic necessities to newly arrived orphans in South Korea.

A highlight of the weekend was to Skype with Sujin, one of the staff members at Emmanuel’s Children Home in Gimcheon, South Korea. She teaches piano to some of the 100 children currently living at the orphanage, while also helping with after school studies. The age range of the children are from 16 months old to 19 years old. They recently built a new girl’s home and many of the students want to have English classes. There used to be a lot of foreigners in Gimcheon, but many of them have left so many teachers are not available. Sujin loves these children, spending time with them on a daily basis, even though she isn’t receiving a salary for her service.

Throughout the retreat weekend in Boston, I learned flexibility is a key ingredient to our personal and professional lives, never knowing what adventures one will embark on next. With holding so many different hats and being tasked with various responsibilities, I am looking forward to continue making positive strides to help impact the lives of the South Korean orphans KKOOM serves on a daily basis.

NOTE: As part of our commitment to KKOOM and our donors, the board members and I personally funded our travel and expenses  to attend the board retreat weekend.

Written by Grace Lee, KKOOM Chief Administrator

 Posted by at 2:06 pm

Giving New Hope – Welcome Boost Summer 2017

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Aug 172017
 

Imagine a newly arrived toddler has entered through the doors of an orphanage for the first time. All the child has is the clothes on his or her back. That’s where KKOOM provides approximately $125 to orphanage caretakers to purchase basic necessities, such as clothes and other essential items. Since 2016, KKOOM has supported 11 children to receive a Welcome Boost fund. In late July, two male toddlers who arrived at Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel’s Children Home benefitted from our Welcome Boost Funds.

Read below to learn more about each toddler KKOOM helped to welcome in a positive environment. We also had a KKOOM supporter recently raise money for these funds and you can read why she had the heart to raise money for this particular program.

Young (12 months old)

Young arrived at the orphanage around July 18th weighing 16 pounds at 11 months old; the average weight of a one-year-old is 21.5 pounds. His house mother purchased new clothes and underwear because he only had the clothes he was wearing when he arrived. He loves to laugh and listens well to his house mother. She promised him “I will help your body and mind grow into a healthy child.” We can see the difference in his physical demeanor between the photo on the left, which taken when Young first arrived and the photo on the right where he’s beaming with a smile which was taken just two weeks after his arrival. KKOOM is thankful his house mother is already starting to improve his health and wellness.

Hee (16 months old)

Hee is very good at eating well while adapting to his new environment. Arriving around July 25th, he is the first child we have supported at Emmanuel’s Children Home with the Welcome Boost. With shortage of school supplies to start preschool, his house mother plans on buying basic school items he needs, while also purchasing toys and nutritional snacks. She sent us photos of newly bought blankets and kitchen items with a Pororo cup; Pororo is a cartoon character widely loved by Korean children. His house mother gladly shared, “…very cute child who knows how to express the pleasure and gratitude of dancing with delicious food and exciting music.”

Liat Shapiro raising money for Welcome Boost Funds

With Liat’s enthusiasm to give back to our Welcome Boost funds, she raised a total of $150 in late July. She rallied friends and family to give to an important cause she is personally invested in. KKOOM asked Liat to share her reason why she raised money for our Welcome Boost Fund. She said,

“As a Korean adoptee, I was welcomed by so many people–the adoption agency, my foster parents, my American family. Since 2015, helping Korean orphans became one of my goals, and now, by fundraising with KKOOM, I am able to catch that dream. And, with it, I hope, I’ll be able to empower and help my little brothers and sisters fulfill their dreams.”

Thank you to Liat and our KKOOM donors for helping us impact these orphans. The Welcome Boost Funds help the children start their new beginnings in a positive way.

 

 Posted by at 4:08 pm

Educating The Next Generation – Summer 2017 Update

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Aug 112017
 

J.S. enjoying summer activities

With the support of generous donors, KKOOM has sent 10 toddlers to preschool in Korea on scholarships. Since the Korean government does not provide funding for toddlers who live in orphanages to attend preschool until they are 4 years old, that is where KKOOM provides funds to narrow the educational gap. We believe in the power of an education, so we provide financial assistance for 2 and 3 year-old Korean orphans to attend preschool for the first time.

By going to preschool, the three toddlers currently supported by KKOOM are learning fundamental life skills. They are following a routine, understanding how to interact and get along with others, while building their motor, cognitive, social, and academic skills.

In our last report via Global Giving, we said we would have updates about J.S.’s first semester in preschool. J.S. is now 25 months old, and his house mother had wonderful updates to share about him. J.S. enjoys playing with car toys, particularly police cars. Eating healthy is not a problem for him as he enjoys eating fruits.

During summer vacation, J.S. and his classmates went to an overnight water park, for the first time. Swimming and going to the water park is a favorite activity for many Korean children to participate during the hot, summer days. J.S. looks like he had a fun time splashing in the water from the attached photo.

While he has become quite independent for a 2-year-old, he can be stubborn at times (don’t we all have a little stubbornness in us?). The way his house mother described this personality trait of his is “cute.”

From the photos shared, J.S. seems to enjoy music too; we cannot get over how adorable the mini violin looks as he is playing it in the photo pictured in this report. Through the candid photos his teacher sent, there is a pure curiosity about the world around him, whether that is touching the nose of a local animal statue, or grabbing snacks with his friends.

In our next blog post about our Early Education scholarships, we hope to share the cool things the 3 toddlers, J.S., S.H., and J.H. are learning in preschool. I invite you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about our Early Education Scholarships for Korean toddlers. From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you to our donors!

 Posted by at 4:32 pm

KKOOM Launches “Christmas in July” Campaign

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Jul 192017
 

Christmas. What words immediately come to your mind? Santa. Gifts. Rudolph. Family. Christmas tree. As children, we may have grown up highly anticipating the day of Christmas, putting out the milk and cookies for Santa, while hoping we stayed on his “good” list and not his “naughty” one.

Each day is a gift – that is why we call it the present. We can open gifts. Celebrate. Enjoy it.

Thanks to the generous support of donors every Christmas season, KKOOM gifts a season of celebration to orphans in Gumi and Gimcheon, South Korea. In the past we’ve provided gifts to 150 children, from toddlers to college-aged young adults. It costs approximately $35 per child or $5,600 to provide gifts to all 150 orphans we directly support.  This July, we are asking our KKOOM friends and supporters to help us raise $3,500 to provide gifts to 100 orphans for our Christmas party in December 2017.

To donate and to learn more, please go to http://kkoom.org/christmas-in-july/.

 

 Posted by at 6:12 pm

Traveling Abroad to Japan: Volunteer-led Project by Jee Lee

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Jun 222017
 

Jee Lee (pictured far left on top photo) helps two girls from Myeong Jin Children’s Home explore Japan through a cultural immersion trip.

KKOOM prides itself on being able to give children who live in Korean orphanages access to new experiences and opportunities they might not otherwise have. One way we do this is by providing financial support to volunteers who have projects, programs, and ideas that will directly benefit Korean orphans and at-risk youth.

Jee Lee is a full-time volunteer and missionary at Myeong Jin Children’s Home in Seoul, South Korea. Before living in Korea since 2008, she was a third grade teacher in Northern Virginia. For the past nine years, she has served at the home full time.

KKOOM provided Jee with approximately $170 USD to take two girls from the orphanage home to Okinawa, Japan for a cultural immersion trip. The girls were able to pay for their own flight tickets and housing and transportation were covered by one of Jee’s friends who is stationed at the US military base in Okinawa.

The funds from KKOOM helped cover their food and activity costs. Their travels from May 24th to June 1st were filled with a variety of activities, from snorkeling, water hiking, ice cream- making, sightseeing, and visiting an aquarium.

When Jee shared her experiences with KKOOM, she said “The girls loved every moment of our trips. They realized that although we might be in Japan, we were able to get by by speaking in English. They came back with more enthusiasm in learning English.”

This overseas cultural trip allowed the girls to see a different world than what they currently experience living at an orphanage home in Seoul. Jee and KKOOM hope this opportunity gives them the desire to study harder and they strive for a better quality of life. Jee comments, “This experience will give them to see the world is so much greater than their daily lives at the children’s home. Thank you KKOOM for always supporting and cheering for the orphans in Korea!

 Posted by at 4:55 pm

Making Dreams Happen – Spring 2017 Scholarship Recipients

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Jun 142017
 

Spring 2017 College Scholarship Recipients

During the spring 2017 semester, KKOOM was proud to provide college scholarships to four students in South Korea, all of whom grew up at Samsungwon, an orphanage in Gumi. We accepted 2 new college recipients and awarded scholarships to 2 continuing recipients. Every semester, we ask our recipients to provide a brief update on how they’re doing and what they hope to accomplish this semester and in the near future. Read below to see what they had to say.

Yeonhwa, 2nd year, at Yeungjin College, Major: Business Management. KKOOM is happy to continue supporting Yeonhwa’s academic studies as she hopes to start her own business in the future. During her vacation, she enjoyed company events at her full-time job such as New Year’s Party, employee workshops, and a picnic. In five years, Yeonhwa sees herself as a 27 year old with a stable life in a steady job, striving for a successful life. With KKOOM’s financial support, she has more opportunities to give back to those who are less fortunate and she is thankful for the support. She wants to live with a positive mind and more dignified life. Yeonhwa says “I love KKOOM supporters and stay healthy.”

Mingyu, 2nd year, at Gumi College, Major: Hospitality and Cooking. Mingyu hopes to become a chef or baker. KKOOM supported Mingyu during his 1st year in college. In his spare time and during his vacation, he practiced his baking skills. He is very optimistic about the future; even if there are setbacks, he wants to continue building up his career to pursue his dream. He really appreciates the help from KKOOM.

Minyeal, 1st year, at World Cyber University, Major: Pastoral Studies. Min-yul is a non-traditional student, who spent several years working in factories and small businesses after he aged out of Samsungwon. In 2015, thanks to KKOOM supporters, like you, he had the opportunity to travel to the US with a couple of other grown-up Samsungwon young adults. This travel experience helped inspire Min-yul to pursue a college degree. In his own words, Min-yul’s dream is to become a global praise minister who is following God’s will. His reason in choosing his major is to know the word of God more deeply. He is very happy when he sings praises to God. Through his studies, he wants to learn how to pray and learn more about the Bible. Min-yul’s hobbies are to sing worship songs and stay fit.

Yonghoon, 1st year, at World Cyber University, Major: Social Welfare. While living at Samsungwon Orphanage for 14 years, Yonghoon says his mother and brothers and sisters helped him a lot, even though his grades weren’t very good growing up. Since they took such good care of him, he wants to pursue a social worker license. His dream is to become a social worker, and he currently has three computer certifications. He is willing to learn new things, study hard, and listen to the professors’ lectures. He says with enthusiasm, “I would like to thank you for your support to me. I think it will help me a lot. I sincerely hope that my dreams will thrive.”

Links:

 Posted by at 9:17 am

Press Release: New Chief Administrator Announced for KKOOM

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Jun 042017
 

PRESS RELEASE: KKOOM APPOINTS GRACE LEE AS NEW CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2017-06-04
CONTACT: Aimee Jachym, President
Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission (KKOOM)
Phone: (269) 340-0430
Email: info@kkoom.org
URL: http://www.kkoom.org

GROWING ORPHANAGE OUTREACH TO BENEFIT KOREAN KIDS

Michigan, USA, June 4, 2017 – According to Forbes, 77% of nonprofits lack a leadership transition plan. This, however, is not the case for Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission (KKOOM), a Michigan-based 501(c)(3) organization.  KKOOM’s leadership transition has been years in the making, growing from an all-volunteer-led organization over the last 10 years to positioning itself to be able to hire a full-time chief administrator, Grace Lee, who started at the end of May. She is charged with implementing a strategic growth and fund development plan,  to ensure that KKOOM can continue to improve the lives of orphans in South Korea for years to come. In addition to leading fundraising efforts, Grace will also be managing the day-to-day operations and overseeing KKOOM’s programs and volunteer projects.         

“KKOOM started as a grassroots endeavor in 2004,” stated Leanne Stein, KKOOM Secretary and founding board member. “At that point, it wasn’t even ‘KKOOM;’ it was just co-founders Aimee Jachym and Erika Senneseth collecting and buying goods for kids at orphanages in South Korea. Eventually it got too big and that’s when KKOOM was born in 2007. We’re excited that KKOOM is ready for more growth once again and that we’ll be able to help improve the lives of Korean orphans long term.”

In accepting the position, Lee said, “I’m so grateful to the KKOOM board, and friends/volunteers of KKOOM. This is an amazing opportunity to serve a vulnerable population of children. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of a community that has loved and believed in me; I want to continue rallying behind these kids with the same confidence to create a longer, lasting impact to make a difference everyday.”  Lee will report to Jachym, who will continue to serve as KKOOM’s President, a volunteer role she has held since the organization’s establishment.

Lee is 2nd generation Korean-American and is from Stockbridge, Georgia. While living in Sejong, South Korea, as a 2015-2016 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, she volunteered at the 2015 KKOOM Christmas Party. Since then, she has actively advocated for KKOOM’s mission as a volunteer and board member. She graduated from Georgia State University with her Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy, Non-Profit Leadership concentration. She has a strong passion to serve children, as a former pre-school teacher and Elementary English Teaching Assistant to 600 students with the Fulbright program. She also has traveled to Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Tanzania on service trips visiting orphanages, planning Vacation Bible School activities, and sponsoring primary age children to attend school in Arusha, Tanzania.

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About KKOOM – Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission (KKOOM) supports orphanages throughout South Korea with the mission of improving the lives and livelihoods of Korean orphans through outreach, enrichment, and education. The acronym “KKOOM” (pronounced “koom”) also means “dream” in Korean. KKOOM was founded in September 2007 by former Fulbright grant recipients as an extension of an ongoing volunteer project at Samsungwon, an orphanage in Gumi, South Korea that began in 2004 and continues today. KKOOM now provides volunteer resources and aid to orphanage homes throughout South Korea and operates U.S.-based educational initiatives that engage supporters firsthand with the work being done overseas.

 Posted by at 1:36 pm