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Nov 192017
 

On September 26th, KKOOM celebrated its 10th Birthday!

KKOOM’s President, Aimee Jachym, had the opportunity to visit South Korea in October 2017. During her visit, she gathered the kids together for a KKOOM birthday party. It was also a special time in Korea as the country was celebrating Chuseok, a major harvest festival over three days.

 

 

 

 

 

                  On October 5th, KKOOM bought lunch and movie tickets for all the elementary, middle, and high school students at Samsungwon Orphanage. The children enjoyed singing happy birthday to KKOOM while eating delicious cake from Baskin Robbins. While the older children and young teens enjoyed the movies, the preschool children went to a local play cafe to just be kids and have fun.

Aimee was also able to visit Emmanuel Children’s Home in Gimcheon on October 10th to meet with the children there, while catching up with Sujin. Sujin is the piano teacher at Emmanuel’s Children Home that currently teaches approximately eighty children. Lot of details were also solidified for our upcoming annual holiday party. While KKOOM was not able to host a holiday party at Emmanuel last year, we are looking forward to having our Chief Administrator in South Korea this December to hold a festive party this year. Check back soon for more details about our holiday parties and fundraising to purchase gifts.

 Posted by at 12:16 pm

New Beginnings – Welcome Boost Fall 2017

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Oct 102017
 

With fall in the air, KKOOM also welcomed the arrival of three new toddlers to Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel Children’s Home in September. We are grateful our donors have supported our efforts to fund new clothing and basic necessities for fourteen children since April 2016. To facilitate a smoother transition for the children who newly enter the orphanages, we provide approximately $125 to their caretaker which we call “Welcome Boosts.”

Below are stories of three young toddlers who are now thriving in positive environments at the two orphanages we directly support.

Jae (5 months old)

Jae is the second child to arrive at Emmanuel Children’s Home this year and is the youngest baby we’ve supported for a Welcome Boost Fund. Due to his young age, his house mother decided to purchase not only clothes, but powdered milk, bottles, and other nutritional supplies to keep baby Jae healthy. She also said he “sleeps well at night, and eats milk well.” As you can see from his photos, he is growing to become a strong and healthy baby. Look at his handsome smirk while in the baby walker. Jae – we are excited to see you grow with a supportive community at Emmanuel.

Jun (2.5 years old)

Can you see Jun’s cute dimples in his photos (cues heart melting)? His house mother was very excited to buy him new fall clothes, pictured here. She has good fashion sense for Jun, right? We know Jun will be dressed to impress throughout the fall and winter seasons with his new trendy clothes. When we asked her to share about Jun in his own voice, she wrote: “I am 2.5 years old but I have not been able to speak at all yet, so I usually express myself physically. I like to sleep late and I like to eat vegetables like lotus root, pumpkin, and black beans.” Jun seems to be playing big brother well to baby Jae, just simply being in Jae’s presence.

 

 

Jin (5 years old)

We love seeing the cute personalities of the toddlers, including Jin giving us peace signs for days. Although she deals with depression, she has a resilient spirit behind that smile. Look at the shoes her house mother purchased for her, along with new autumn clothes. She’s the hippest child on the block with her new pairs of sneakers. Her house mother shared she is very active and that she is currently learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Keep staying positive Jin. Your smile is contagious.

With new seasons starting for these toddlers, we want to ensure they receive a warm welcome and feel comfortable in their new environment, including feeling good in their newly bought clothing apparel. Thank you to our friends and supporters who make it possible to continue providing Welcome Boost funds. You are making a difference.

Supporting College Scholarships – Fall 2017 Update

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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