Welcome to the Board, Tina!

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Nov 102015
Tina Mohr joined the KKOOM Board in October 2015.

Tina Mohr joined the KKOOM Board in October 2015.

KKOOM is proud to announce that Christina (Tina) Nadeau Mohr of East Hampton, Connecticut has joined the Board of Directors. She was unanimously elected to serve a one-year term beginning in October 2015. Tina has been a long-time KKOOM supporter, and this past summer, she and her husband, Mike, met KKOOM college student, JD Kim in Boston. You can read more about that experience here.

Tina explains her interest in joining the KKOOM Board in more detail,

My daughter is adopted from South Korea and therefore my desire to help these children is a very personal commitment for me. During the adoption process, I learned stories of many children who were unable to be adopted for various reasons and are raised in orphanages. It breaks my heart that these children are not given the same opportunities that my daughter will have. Although the orphanage staff do the very best to care for and raise these children, I believe there are additional ways I could help improve their lives even more.

Aimee Jachym, KKOOM Co-founder and President, says, “We’re thrilled that Tina has joined our Board, and we are looking forward to the unique perspective Tina brings as an adoptive parent. Her background in finance and strong analytical skills will also be huge assets to our organization.”

Tina is a legislative analyst for the Connecticut General Assembly, and she is also licensed to practice law in Connecticut. In her free time, she enjoys watching Korean dramas and studying the Korean language. Other hobbies include camping and kayaking with her family.

 Posted by at 9:40 am

We did it! Good bye, “orphan car”! Hello, “normal car”!

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Nov 022015
Here's what the van used to look like. The kids hated riding in this car.

Here’s what the van used to look like. The kids hated riding in this car.

Just like our cars don’t have our home addresses tattooed on the sides of them, neither should an orphanage family’s car. Back in August, we wrote about the “orphan car” and the awful stigma that the Christmas-colored van had for the children at Samsungwon Orphanage who had to ride in it everyday. The car was painted in the colors of Love’s Fruit, a well-known Korean charity, and it had “Samsungwon”, the name of the home, emblazoned on the side. Every time the children had to ride in the car, they were embarrassed, because everyone could see that they lived in an orphanage.

Thanks to the generosity of several donors, however, we were able to raise the funds necessary to repaint the car a neutral, normal white.

We repainted the van white. It looks simple and clean, and importantly inconspicuously normal.

This fall, we repainted the “orphanage van” white. Now it looks simple and clean and importantly, inconspicuously normal.

While some may call this color boring, this newly painted white van is just what the children were hoping for. In addition to being all-white, like a normal car, it doesn’t have any markings that label it as being associated with the orphanage. Now when the kids get in and out, onlookers have no idea that they are any different from anyone else.

Growing up as a kid is hard enough; growing up in an orphanage is even harder. Blending in at school can be tough, especially when other kids find out where you live or that your family situation is different.

KKOOM is proud to make life just a little easier. Now, at least, those rides to and from school and on other trips around town don’t have to be so difficult.

Thanks to all who generously supported this campaign to repaint the van. We couldn’t have done it without you!

 Posted by at 4:01 pm

Update on Minho and Jinyoung

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Sep 032015

Here’s a recent update on our 2 toddlers whom we support in preschool. This was originally published as a report to our GlobalGiving project, which helps KKOOM raise funds to send Korean orphan toddlers to preschool. – Aimee

Minho, US age 4

Minho, US age 4

Minho (left) is a Korean orphan who was born with special needs. He has very small kidneys, which doctors think is the reason he has developed very slowly. He started walking after he was 2 years old, and now 4, he is still not talking.

Minho attends preschool with other special needs kids 5 days a week, and he is now old enough to receive the government subsidy, which pays for his preschool.

Thanks to your support, however, KKOOM has been sending Minho to extra physical therapy sessions on a regular basis for the last 2 years. These extra sessions help Minho build strength, control and confidence in his body.

On a recent visit with Minho in Daegu, he showed a lot of curiosity toward a few small dogs in the park and was generally happy to be outside. He was even happier when we took him to eat one of his favorite foods, bulgogi (marinated Korean beef), at a nearby restaurant.

Jinyoung, US age 2

Jinyoung, US age 2

Jinyoung (right) is a 2-year-old Korean orphan who was abandoned on the steps of a small hospital when he was just a few months old. From the beginning, he was a very active and healthy baby, and he is doing very well in preschool. As we reported last time, Jinyoung started preschool in March 2015, and he adjusted to the new environment without issue. He now attends preschool for a full day with the older children at the orphanage.

KKOOM’s support makes it possible for Korean orphan toddlers like Jinyoung to start preschool before the government subsidy becomes available to them at age 4. Hence, your support of KKOOM is what makes it possible for Jinyoung to develop the basic social and academic skills he needs to succeed later in preschool and elementary school.

This summer, Jinyoung visited a water park with the other children in his orphanage, and he had a great time, as you can see in a few of the photo collage pictures. He was actually very upset when he was told it was time to get out of the water! He is definitely a strong (and strong willed) (not so) little guy. I predict that he will be quite athletic as he grows up!

 Posted by at 9:00 am
Aug 312015

The students formed teams of 3 or 4 for their trip to Seoul.

From August 7-10, KKOOM, with the help of Christine Arrozal, took a group of 11 high school students (pictured, left) from Samsungwon, the orphanage in Gumi, to Seoul for “The Amazing Race: Leadership Camp”. Christine, a KKOOM volunteer, received a Davis Projects for Peace, which helped fund a majority of the camp and trip expenses. Christine and Aimee Jachym, KKOOM Co-founder and President, led the camp together. They were assisted by Bill Downey, KKOOM Board Member, Allison Sullivan, KKOOM volunteer, and several other local volunteers.

Below is a write-up of the camp, as told by three of the high school girls. 한글 더 편하신 분, 맨 밑에 참고하시기를 바랍니다. If you make it all the way to the end, there’s also a video of the trip, which we think you’ll enjoy!

Translation by JD Kim. Hello, we are Soyoung, Yoojung and Seunghee Ahn, high school students who live at Samsungwon. We had seen Seoul only through TV and just dreamed to be there because it’s far from here, Gumi. Thank you for letting us have a nice camp in Seoul for 4 days.

On the first day, we played several English games in order to become familiar with the teachers. We appreciate for teaching and giving us chances to try use English we usually had not used and tried. While we were doing that, it was almost the time for the train, so we went to Gumi station, and it was like a dream that I was going to Seoul. When we arrived Seoul station, via Gimcheon, Suwon and several stations, we started the game again, the game was, finding teachers hidden in Seoul station. After the game, we went to Sinchon by subway ourselves. When we arrived at our accommodations, we dropped off our bags and took a break. we could see Seogang university and beautiful flowers through windows. In the evening, we did game missions in Seogang university and had dinner. After that, we visited another place in Seoul by ourselves. Feeling so great, I saw the sky, but I couldn’t see any stars in the sky. It reminded me ‘night in Seoul is sad’. told by a TV show I like. I was sorry and looked around and saw lights of many buildings and cars instead of stars. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:45 pm

2015 Summer Camps

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Aug 012015

Aimee Jachym, KKOOM President and Co-founder, and Bill Downey, KKOOM Board Member, recently arrived in Korea to administer upcoming KKOOM summer camps:

  • August 7 – 10, 2015 – Amazing Race Leadership Camp in Seoul for 10th and 11th grade high school students from Samsungwon, with support from Davis Projects for Peace and Christine Arrozal. T
  • August 11 – 12, 2015 – Samsungwon Summer Camp at Sangnok Resort in Cheonan. All of the Samsungwon children will attend along with young-adult volunteers who grew up at Samsungwon.

Stay tuned for more info!

 Posted by at 3:57 pm

Let’s Repaint the Van

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Aug 012015

Help us defeat the stigma of riding in “the orphanage car”.

Consider chipping in today! The van, shown below, has a surface area of about 333 square feet that need to be repainted, and the total cost is about $1,500. That means for $45, you can help repaint 10 square feet of the van. Please consider getting out your virtual spray can (credit card) and chip in today! Any amount, big or small, will be greatly appreciated!

Raised 1,640 $ towards the 1,500 $ target.

Check out these videos to learn more.

van  From Samsungwon’s President: The van donated to us by Community Chest Of Korea (a/k/a 사랑의 열매 or “Love’s Fruit”), a well-known Korean nonprofit organization, officially became ours this month (August 2015). However, our children really dislike riding in it because when they’re seen in public, everyone can easily see that they live in an orphanage. You see, the van is painted with the distinctive colors of Love’s Fruit, red, green and white, which are easily recognizable to Koreans.

During the time Love’s Fruit owned the van, we couldn’t repaint it, but since it is now ours, we can get rid of the Love’s Fruit logo and other distinctive markings. We have already tried to remove the logo, but you can still see the outline… And the colors make it still very obviously “the orphanage car.”

We would like to repaint the van, but we cannot use our regular funds from the Korean government or local supporters due to stringent rules. So we were wondering if KKOOM might be able to help us raise money to repaint the van. 

Samsungwon is the orphanage in Gumi, South Korea, where KKOOM and KKOOM’s founders have been volunteering since 2004.

Make a contribution now to help us repaint the van!


 Posted by at 2:08 pm

JD tours Boston and more

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Jul 282015

Fun in BostonJD is now about 4 weeks into his program at Boston University, and things still seem to be going pretty well in the classroom. This past Saturday, JD had the opportunity to meet up with KKOOM supporters, Tina and Mike Mohr from Hampton, Connecticut, who drove in to Boston for the day. Here’s a narrative from Tina:

We really enjoyed meeting JD this weekend. We met at the Barnes and Noble near BU and then walked up the commonwealth avenue mall, through the Boston Public Garden to Faneuil Hall for lunch. JD remarked that it was extremely crowded and busy, which it was! We talked about how there are similar markets in every city in South Korea but how enormous they are. He was happy to find some Udon noodle soup which was more familiar to him than some of the other foods available. I got Greek food and that was the first time he had heard of a Gyro and some of the other types of Greek food on display. I also tried to explain what “Chowda” was and why it spelled differently than it is actually spelt. We talked about a lot of things including our careers as well as JD’s career aspirations; safe places to walk around the city and many of the differences between Boston and South Korea.  After lunch we walked back on Boylston street and took a Duck Tour through the city. The tour was a lot of fun and were very surprised to sit next to another student from South Korea! The tour was fun and we didn’t get wet. After that we had dinner at a traditional Boston pub and watched the end of the Red Sox game. My husband Mike and I had a wonderful time. JD is a very responsible, polite, hardworking young man. He had very practical and realistic goals for the future and I was extremely impressed with his fluency in English. I am glad that we were able to meet with him and spend the day showing him around the city.  We actually had tickets to a Red Sox game for the next day that we were unable to use, so we gave them to JD. He did go with a few friends and had a nice night to see the game. Thank you for the opportunity to meet JD !

This week, we also caught up with JD for a couple more questions and answers.

Q:  Do you miss anything from home? 

A: I often miss Korean food such as 부대찌개, 된장찌개, 짬뽕 and others. So I sometimes go to Korean restaurant, but not often. Unfortunately, the foods in Korean restaurants are too expensive to me. But I go there when I can’t bear my appetite for Korean food anymore.

Q: What surprises you most about American culture or American people?

One of what I was surprised is, many people run without wearing any top. And there are many beggars than Korea. I can see them everyday. In Korea, I can’t see those kinds of scene.

 Posted by at 9:52 pm

KKOOM Board Retreat In Chicago and Update on JD’s U.S. Visit

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Jul 222015

By William Downey – KKOOM Board Member

The KKOOM Board of Directors convened July 17-19 for its annual retreat in Chicago, and it was the first opportunity for some of us to meet in person.  It was nice to meet the folks I have been meeting with virtually, and it was great to be back in Chicago for the first time since 2007! IMG_3080

I grew up in Michigan so the hot, humid summer days accompanied by the obligatory afternoon thunderstorm is a familiar weather pattern.  Chicago did not disappoint as the temperatures Friday went into the 90s and a dramatic thunderstorm Saturday afternoon more than fulfilled my need to walk down memory lane! KKOOM Chicago 2015 kicked-off on Saturday with a full day of topics to cover.  Emphasis was placed on a thorough review of our past projects and where our focus should be placed going forward.

A major highlight of the weekend was a Skype session with JD, a student studying at Boston University this summer, Ms. Soonok Park, house mother/social welfare worker and Jaeho Lee, formerly a resident of the Samsungwon orphanage who recently completed his Master’s of Divinity.  It was great to get their input on KKOOM programs and insightful suggestions as to what things they think KKOOM can do to help. Their feedback on KKOOM was encouraging and a validation that our projects and the organization is an important part of the lives of the children and young adults we seek to serve.

JD’s U.S. visit is nearing its midpoint with the Boston University program as he enters his third week of the six-week English program.  Jindong did well on his placement test when he arrived and is finding the class level he has been assigned to in the program a challenge and very helpful in building his listening and speaking skills.  As a business major, good language skills will give him the confidence he needs to succeed in a very competitive, international business environment.  My impression has been he is studying hard and getting the most out of his time in the United States.

I had a chance this past weekend to get directly involved in supporting him in one of those activities.   As with any academic program, there is always work to be done outside of the classroom and JD’s program is no exception.  He had to prepare a meal with a focus on using relevant vocabulary and had to capture his instructions for preparing the meal to video.  Of course, he has to speak in English!  I would say that the video was a success but as for the meal…well, it is good he is a business major!IMG_3081

I have noticed a dramatic improvement in his ability to speak and listen to English and know it will continue to improve as his visit in the United States continues.  The ability to improve language skills requires this type of immersion in a culture of the target language.  You really need this kind of exposure to master not only the practical aspects of daily language usage but also the nuance of vocabulary and regional differences.

This is the first time KKOOM has sponsored a study abroad program and Jindong has proved to be a good choice for our first candidate!

Stay tuned for more reports!

 Posted by at 5:54 pm

JD’s Summer in Boston: Week 2

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Jul 132015

JD at the statute of John Harvard.

JD’s first week of classes at Boston University got off to a good start last Monday, and later in the week, he caught up with some KKOOM friends. On Thursday, he toured Harvard’s campus with KKOOM Board Member, Bill Downey, and former KKOOM volunteer, Ashlee Anton, and on Friday, JD met up with another past KKOOM, Tami Bolk, for Thai food.

We asked JD a few more questions about his experience so far, and here’s what he said.

1. Describe your typical day.

I usually wake up at 6:30 am. And I take a shower, have breakfast. After that, I have a class at 9 am. my class consists of speaking, writing, reading and listening (teacher’s speaking). the class ends at 12:50 pm. And I have lunch, take a break, and go to fitness center, (it’s very nice), and take a shower again, have dinner. in the evening, I always do my homework. (cause I get assignment everyday). I don’t go outside in the evening, cause I’ve heard that it’s more dangerous than Korea at night.

2. How does BU’s campus compare to your campus at home (Pusan National Univ.)?

It’s great. I can take subway in the campus. And I can use all facilities of the campus. and I’m also so happy that it is flatland. (the university where I study in Korea is very sloping) And I can see so many foreign students from all over the world. Also, there’s a great river named Charles River behind the campus (I always watch the river in my room, it’s very close)

3. What is one new thing you’ve learned in past week?

The one new thing I’ve learned is the attitude I should have in class. That is, when the teacher describe or tell something, other students usually cut in on what the teacher says. I was so suprised at it. In Korea, when a professor say something, students don’t speak anything. through that, I experienced cultural difference. and I thought that I should try to do it. But it’s still not easy.

Tami and JD enjoy Thai food.

Tami and JD enjoy Thai food.


Ashlee, JD and Bill check out Harvard’s campus

 Posted by at 8:00 am

JD in the USA

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Jul 062015

JD in SW Michigan at a raspberry farm

JinDong (“JD”) arrived in Chicago from Korea on Friday, June 29. (see previous post) He spent the weekend in SW Michigan hanging out with KKOOM President, Aimee Jachym, and flew to Boston the following Monday. KKOOM board member Bill Downey greeted JD at the airport in Boston and helped him get checked in to the dormitory at Boston University.

JD had an orientation session and English level test last week, and his intensive English classes at Boston University start today.

We had a short Q&A session with JD, and we hope you find his responses interesting.

Q) Besides improving your English, what are you hoping to learn or experience during your time in America?

A) I wanna meet lots of friends from around the world as well as studying English, there are many foreign students here in Boston. In [my English program], I think I can meet lots of people and know about many countries

JD and Bill on the Fourth of July

JD and Bill on the Fourth of July

Q) What was your first impression of America?

A) I felt American people have good manners and act kindly to other people. They always say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Excuse me’ even in very small situations. And whenever I ask someone about what I wanna know, They explain very kindly.

Q) When you were younger, did you ever dream about visiting America? Now that you are here, how does the reality compare to your dream?

A) When I was younger, I sometimes dreamed to visit America. It was one of my wishlist. And now It became reality. I have thought that America is amazing country and has lots of things to do. And I still have same thinking. America is beautiful and interesting. I always appreciate to KKOOM’s donors. Thank you.

We’ll continue to check in on JD throughout the summer, so we hope you’ll stay tuned.

 Posted by at 9:00 am