Dec 182014
 

5. December 18, 2014 ~ Jerusalem Ministry’s Camps

Again this year, KKOOM had the opportunity to support Jerusalem Ministry’s soccer and arts camps for at-risk children living in Seoul area children’s homes.

Kids and Volunteers at Jerusalem Ministry's 2014 Arts Camp

Kids and Volunteers at Jerusalem Ministry’s 2014 Arts Camp

The soccer camp was held in early August. Over 50 boys from 9 different children homes across Seoul attended, along with 48 committed volunteers. For three days, they met on the soccer field at Yongsan Army Base. The boys were split into four teams and went through practice/teamwork drills in the morning and then had scrimmages in the afternoon.

More than anything, what the boys really received during the three days was strong love, encouragement, and healthy attention from all the adult volunteers. The volunteers made the atmosphere safe so that the boys, despite being from so many different homes and having such difficult pasts, were able to connect well with each other and have fun. By the end of the camp, some of the boys were fighting tears because it was over. Others were holding tightly to their team pictures, which each boy received to help them remember the camp. Some of the 6th graders said that they want to fail in school this year so that they can take 6th grade over and return again next year (the camp is only for 3rd – 6th graders).

KKOOM’s support helped everyone have fun at a nearby swimming pool the last day of the camp. Some of the boys didn’t have swim suits, so we were happy to be able to provide those as well as admission and snacks for the outing.

We hope you enjoy Jerusalem Ministry’s highlight video!

The 6th Annual Jerusalem Ministry Arts and Crafts Camp was held January 21-23, 2014. They had 34 girls from 6 different children’s homes and 43 volunteers. Two of the homes were first-time participants. KKOOM’s support provided everyone with two meals during the camp.  To read more about the very successful camp, check out a volunteer’s blog post over here. Here’s a highlight video.

Jerusalem Ministry is a registered Korean non-profit organization, and it is not affiliated with KKOOM. To learn more about Jerusalem Minsitry, visit their website. The views and opinions expressed by Jerusalem Ministry and their volunteers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of KKOOM.

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Dec 172014
 
Anthony Segura (left) at Samsungwon

Anthony Segura (left) at Samsungwon

4. December 17, 2014 ~ Commitment: A volunteer’s perspective

Anthony Segura and his wife moved to South Korea earlier this year to teach English. They are from Fresno, California and were both placed in public elementary schools in Gumi, South Korea, through the Korean government teaching program known as “EPIK.” This is Anthony’s reflection on their time spent with the kids at Samsungwon, an orphanage home in Gumi.


Prior to arriving in South Korea, I had come across a video on YouTube titled, “The Baby Box.” What I witnessed in those ten minutes was heartbreaking; mothers dropping off their babies on the doorstep of an elderly man who took them in as his own. Many, if not most of these young ladies were doing so because they were having the baby out of wedlock, a very frowned upon situation in Korea. These girls would rather give their child to a complete stranger than be shunned by society. That or they didn’t feel competent enough to raise the child themselves. Whatever the case, thousands of children around the nation are being born into orphanages around the country. This video created in me a desire to volunteer at an orphanage upon arriving in Korea.

Half a year later, my wife and I were placed in Gumi, South Korea and quickly began our search for any orphanages in or around the city. It wasn’t long until we found Samsungwon. Ever since, we’ve spent our Sundays playing with and getting to know the children and teenagers who call Samsungwon home.

One of the Samsungwon children watches snails race

One of the Samsungwon children watches snails race

Over the course of the 11 or so months that we’ve been here, we’ve witnessed a tremendous difference in the way they interact with us. Initially, they were quite standoffish. During the first few visits, it was as if we were ghosts. We were lucky if we were even given a glance. Regardless of every attempt to play with them, it was as if a concrete wall stood between us. I began to think of possible reasons why we were being treated like that. It was more than them being shy and us being strange foreigners. I soon came to realize that they probably had seen many foreigners come and go, perhaps they may have started to build relationships with some of them and then all of a sudden that person would vanish. I also realized that foreigners would come to Samsungwon once or twice and then never again. So from the perspective of these kids, they must have been thinking, “Why would I want to get to know someone if my experience says they aren’t going to be around long enough anyway?”

Samsungwon kids check out Anthony's car

Samsungwon kids check out Anthony’s car

After noticing this, my wife and I decided that we were not going to be that type of foreigner. We would be in Korea for at least a year, and we wanted these kids to know that we would be consistent; we would be people that truly cared for them. It didn’t take too many visits for them to realize that they could count on us being there every other Sunday, like clockwork.

These days, it isn’t uncommon for me and my wife to talk about specific kids from Samsungwon like they are our own. We’ve grown quite attached to these kids; I don’t know how we’re going to leave them come February 2016. Our Sunday visits are ones we greatly cherish; bringing us joy inexpressible. I hope they will forever remember us. I know we will never forget them.

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Dec 162014
 
Lisa Behrends, founder of Joy for Kids.

Lisa Behrends, founder of Joy for Kids.

3. December 16, 2014 ~ Joy for Kids! by Lisa Behrends

Lisa Behrends (48) lives in Middle Georgia and is a medically retired police officer. Her husband is a Retired Army SFC, and he is also a pilot. Lisa has a group called “Joy for Kids,” and earlier this year, she found KKOOM through Facebook. We hope you enjoy her story on she connected with us and with the kids in Korea, through her simple good deeds.


I got interested in helping the kids in Korea exactly how a lot of people get in to Korea through K-dramas and K-Pop. By watching the dramas, I became fascinated by Korea’s culture and traditions, and I started researching everything that I could on Korea. In 2013 I saw many of the actors and idols posting pictures of themselves with babies. A little bit of digging and I found out that it was in effort to raise awareness and fight the old stigma of adopting orphans in Korea. Being a long-time supporter of children hospitals here in the United States, I was immediately drawn to this cause.

I spent months digging into the history of the orphanages in Korea. I told my husband that I wanted to go to Korea and volunteer in an orphanage while we were there. He kind of thought I was crazy, but, since we are planning a trip sometime in the future, he humored me. I kept researching and finding all sorts of information on the conditions of the orphanages and what they needed. Saving up for our trip was going slow, and I became restless and I wondered if there was something I could do from here the United States. I thought, “Well why can’t I do what I did here–make clothes and blankets and things and send them to orphanages in Korea?”

I soon found out it would not be so easy. At first, I tried contacting places in Korea directly. The communication barrier was unbelievable and even if I sent the e-mails in Korean no one would reply back. It was discouraging sending things by mail, because it would often not make it to the kids it was intended for. But not to be discouraged easily, I set out to find an organization that had connections in Korea that I could donate my things to, since it didn’t look like I would be able to do so directly. I scoured the internet and tried hundreds of organizations only to become very discouraged. Most that were listed had no further dealings with Korea and wouldn’t even talk to me.

Then one day I received a Facebook message from Aimee about KKOOM. We chatted back and forth for a long time. I told her what I wanted to do, and she said “No problem!” I was so happy. Aimee told me about KKOOM and said they would be happy to take my blankets with them on their next trip in November. I told her I didn’t want this to be a one-time thing I wanted it to be ongoing because I wanted to help as many kids that I could. Even though I can’t do much, I still might be able to make someone’s life a little better. She surprised me by saying that was great, they have several trips every year.

A child at a Korean orphanage and her Joy for Kids blanket!

A child at a Korean orphanage gets her Joy for Kids blanket!

A teenager at a Korean orphanage and her Joy for Kids blanket!

This teenager was too shy to show her face, but she loves her new Joy for Kids blanket. :-D

I was so happy that my group Joy for Kids took off. Winter was coming fast and I know it is bitter cold there so I decided to make fleece blankets and send them. I was only able to make 4 blankets in the short time before the trip to Korea, and I worried about sending so few. Aimee assured me that it would be fine, the kids would love them, and no one would have hurt feelings. Aimee promised to take pictures for me so I could see the kids that received my blankets. True to her word, I got an email with pictures, and the feeling it gave me is indescribable. My health isn’t good, and this has given me a new lease on life.

Determined to do what I can to help these children, I have started on my next shipment of blankets in Feb. or March of next year. By my calculations, I will have 16-20 blankets this time–triple the amount of the first shipment. I hope to go with Aimee one of these times if my health permits, and my husband and I are still planning on our dream vacation to Korea which now includes spending a couple of days at one of the orphanages. (He doesn’t think I’m so crazy now). :-)

One person with a dream can make a difference. I urge all of you to become active and make a difference in a child’s life. It doesn’t have to be huge — sometimes the small things mean the most.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ~ Lisa Behrends


Connect with Lisa via her Joy for Kids page on Facebook.

Some of the fabric Lisa has collected to make more blankets for children in Korean orphanages

Some of the fabric Lisa has collected to make more blankets for children in Korean orphanages

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Dec 152014
 
Bill hangs out with some of the youngest children at Emmanuel Children's Home, an orphanage in Gimcheon, South Korea

Bill hangs out with some of the youngest children at Emmanuel Children’s Home, an orphanage in Gimcheon, South Korea

2. December 15, 2014 ~ First Impressions, continued…

Bill Downey is a retired U.S. Army veteran and KKOOM supporter. Originally from Detroit, he currently lives near Boston. This year, he spent a few days in in the late spring and also in the fall visiting some of the children’s homes KKOOM supports in Korea. This is the second and final part of his reflections. His first post appeared yesterday, here. We hope you enjoy them!


On Monday, and a very rainy Monday at that, we visited Emmanuel orphanage located nearby in Gimcheon. We visited several areas of their campus, but I think the most memorable was visiting with toddlers. You really haven’t lived until you have had the opportunity to spend quality time with 19 toddlers! If it were possible to channel all of that energy, we would not have any energy problems! The visit was more formal in comparison to Samsungwon’s relaxed atmosphere, as the staff had certain things they wanted us to see and do. This was fine and one of several opportunities during my visits to learn or be reminded of aspects of Korean culture I need to learn.

We also did a bit of Christmas shopping for the Samsungwon kids on our way to Emmanuel. Again, logistics! Each of them gets to make a list of some things they want, up to around $30.00. This may sound like a very mundane task to do, but this is exactly what I am interested in doing. I want to be involved with the kids at lots of different levels to better understand their lives and get glimpses of how the world is from their purview. For me, sharing their story with others means I know about them on a personal level.

Minho at an orphanage in Daegu, South Korea

Minho at an orphanage in Daegu, South Korea

Aimee had a planned dinner with one of the teaching staff from Emmanuel. This staff member is someone Aimee has had a chance to get to know well over the years and is considered an important friend. We left for dinner from the orphanage and met her husband and baby at the restaurant. It was a lovely dinner with good company and both Aimee’s friend and her husband are pianists! I heard some soft jazz by her husband from a file on his phone and it was very good. Aimee could have easily said we were done for the day and had a nice dinner with her friends without me in tow and avoided having to deal with English interpretation during the meal and instead could have spent precious time while in Korea focused on her friends. It reflects well on Aimee’s generosity and the fact that she was a patient and terrific host during my visit.

Our last day was a trip to Daegu to visit with Minho who is resident at Aemangwon. Minho is a very special 4-year-old whose story is worth reading about or reading again. Two of the house moms that had helped care for Minho when he was at Samsungwon joined us for the visit. He seems to be doing well and the additional money provided by KKOOM ensures he gets additional, needed therapy. Visiting institutionalized children is a very emotional experience, and many of the young people there have serious handicaps and are challenged beyond imagining on a daily basis — a poignant reminder of how much most of us have to be thankful for during a week of thanksgiving.

Minho gets ready for a visit

Minho gets ready for our visit. We took him outside for a walk around the premises.

I learned so much during my visit and was left with many impressions to consider. I can say that I have been really impressed with the dedicated staff I have met at all the places we visited. This is difficult work that requires a single-mindedness of purpose and tremendous dedication. I am in awe of their good work and deeds. They are truly quiet heroes and from their actions; I have learned much and hope to be supportive of their work.

If youth is nothing else, it is optimism and a belief that there are better tomorrows. KKOOM’s goal to bring together the resources to ensure kids are provided with the necessary educational foundation to realize their dreams is of immense importance. This is particularly true in a country like Korea, where the importance of education is the foundation for so many entry points into mainstream Korean society. To level the playing field for these kids is a mission we all can embrace and one I hope to continue to find ways to be of help.

 Posted by at 10:28 am
Dec 142014
 
A child at Samsungwon plays with chalk on the Sunday volunteer visit

1. December 14, 2014 ~ First Impressions

Bill Downey is a retired U.S. Army veteran and KKOOM supporter. Originally from Detroit, he currently lives near Boston. This year, he spent a few days in in the late spring and also in the fall visiting some of the children’s homes KKOOM supports in Korea. These are his thoughts.


When I landed in Incheon, it was the first time I had been on Korean soil in more than 30 years.  Incheon was known primarily as a fishing port and though the “Miracle on the Han River” was well under way when I left all those years ago, it was nowhere close to reaching its full potential.  Much has changed, as have I and I was back to get reacquainted with Korea, and was hoping to learn more about KKOOM and see if there was a place for me to help.

US Army Veteran Bill Downey visits Samsungwon a Korean orphanage with KKOOM

US Army Veteran Bill Downey visits Samsungwon

My first visit to Samsungwon orphanage was on a volunteer Sunday in June.  I was not sure if I was going to have the opportunity to visit while I was in Korea this past summer so I was happy that Aimee made the arrangements for me to visit.  It was very hot and not many of the kids came out but I was glad to make the acquaintance of a few of the kids and the volunteers.  It was nice to be able to have a visual impression of where the kids were, hear some voices and get to know a few faces.  For me, the visit was a success but for the kids, my bald head was a real curiosity and then falling hard while playing Frisbee may have left a less than favorable impression but hey, I have something I can build on!

I was determined to learn as much as I could about KKOOM and offer to help where I could so after emails, phone calls and a chance to meet with Aimee [KKOOM President and Co-founder] while I was home in Michigan in August to visit my family, I was on my way to a good education in all things KKOOM.  I committed to making two trips a year to Korea and asked Aimee if I could visit during her trip in November and she graciously agreed.  What could be better than learning while following Aimee around!

Aimee put together an itinerary for the November visit and I would join her in Gumi on Saturday, November 19 and stay until Tuesday, November 22.  I was thrilled and really appreciated the opportunity to join her during her visit.

When I arrived on Saturday, I was met by Aimee and three of the girls from the house that Aimee spends the most time with when in Korea.  Samsungwon has seven separate units of approximately 10 residents each with a house mom for each.  This also happened to be the evening that they go out for dinner, a monthly activity, so I was pleased to be able to meet all of the girls from the house over dinner at the Chinese restaurant.  I even got to sample homemade cookies that two of the girls had made earlier in the day at a baking class!  After dinner we went to get ice cream for the kids, dropped it off at Samsungwon for the kids to enjoy as an after dinner treat.  Not that I had any doubt, but I have now seen the amount of logistics involved in dealing with 70 kids!

Afterward, we went out with one of the older college students, Jin Dong, and had a good conversation that included discussing his plans to take some time off from school and hopefully spend some time in the U.S. learning English and making some money before continuing his studies.  Jin Dong is a quiet, thoughtful guy and seems to have a good head on his shoulders.  I hope he will be able to bring his plans to fruition and get back to his studies.

A child at Samsungwon plays with chalk on the Sunday volunteer visit

A child at Samsungwon plays with chalk on the Sunday volunteer visit

The next day was a tour of the Samsungwon facility which seems to be in good repair but very modest and I could not help but wonder what additions might enhance the living spaces for the kids.  There was also an opportunity for me to spend some time with the other residents in Jin Dong’s house.  It was nice to get to know some of them, watch TV and hang out for part of the day.  This was also a volunteer Sunday so the afternoon was spent playing with the kids and having dinner with them.  The kids are not required to visit with the volunteers so the ones that do come out tend to be the younger kids and they seem to enjoy the visit.  I didn’t realize colored chalk could be such a hit so I know what to stock up on for my next visit!

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

 Posted by at 4:35 pm
Jul 132014
 
Amazon has made donating to your favorite charity, KKOOM, a breeze with AmazonSmile :)

 

At no extra cost to you, each purchase is eligible for a 0.5% donation to the charity you choose. All you have to do is shop at smile.amazon.com. Click the link to get started. Make sure “Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission” is selected as your charity of choice.

 

For more information, check out AmazonSmile Program Details and More About AmazonSmile.

 

If you have a few minutes, setup both AmazonSmile and igive (http://www.igive.com/welcome/lptest/wr24c.cfm?c=62797) to maximize your giving potential to KKOOM when you shop. All at no cost to you, except a fraction of your time.

 

Don’t forget to spread the word, too!  You can do so by sharing on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter page. This will link your friends and family directly to smile.amazon.com in support of KKOOM. http://smile.amazon.com/ch/26-1204716

 

Korean Kids And Orphanage Outreach Mission
 Posted by at 10:04 pm

Help KKOOM with iGive

 Blog  Comments Off
Jul 012014
 
Help KKOOM by using iGive!

Help KKOOM by using iGive!

Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission – July $2,000 Contest and $5 New Member Bonuses
New supporters can mean $5 even if they don’t shop.

On top of that, your members can help Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission win $1,000 or $500.

Everybody who joins iGive.com to support Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission and tries the iGive Button through 10/15/14 means $5, free. Do it now, and KKOOM gets $5 for free!  http://www.iGive.com/KoreanKidsandOrphanageOutreachMission

That alone is exciting.  But there’s more.

You can also help by spreading the word about how iGive can help ANY cause or charity.  The member who invites the most people who join iGive and try the iGive Button will win $1,000 for his or her cause.  Second and third place winners mean $500 for their causes.  It doesn’t matter what cause that new member chooses to help.  If the member who got the most new members is supporting Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission, you win!

You MUST use YOUR personalized iGive Tell A Friend link to invite new members, otherwise that new member won’t count towards winning.

Get your personalized link: http://www.iGive.com/html/tellafriend.cfm and use the personalized “Tell A Friend” link on that page to invite friends to join iGive.  If a supporter isn’t already a member of iGive, they can join (and earn Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission $5 when they try the iGive Button).

So, why not?  Help us get the word out so that KKOOM earns an extra $5 for new iGive members. That’s in addition to the normal donation amount. There’s never been a better time to ask folks to help your group, at no cost to you or to them.

Why share with your friends & supporters? -

  1. When they shop, they’ll help Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission.  Why not let them take advantage of over 1,400 stores that want to help?
  2. The average shopper is raising over $30 – $100 a year for their cause … all for free.
  3. It’s simple and automatic..
  4. $5 for KKOOM for free, just for trying us out.
  5. The more iGive members, the better the deals we can get from stores.

Get the word out today. The sooner you start, the better your chances of winning $1,000 or $500.

You can help us by spreading KKOOM’s iGive link everywhere (Facebook’s a great way, but Twitter, e-mail, blogs, bulletin boards, and handouts all work).  Here’s KKOOM’s link: http://www.iGive.com/KoreanKidsandOrphanageOutreachMission

Thank you for your support!

 Posted by at 7:38 pm
Jun 292014
 

Thank you from KKOOM!Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, KKOOM was able to raise $3,890 on GlobalGiving and Microsoft’s YouthSpark Bonus Day, which was held on June 25, 2014.  These funds will go to support young adult Korean orphans in their college and professional pursuits.

Microsoft matched 100% of donations while the allotted $200,000 of bonus funds remained. Unfortunately, the bonus funds ran out in less than 30 minutes after the bonus day started at noon US Eastern time!

However, KKOOM was grateful to raise awareness and and much-needed funds for young adult Korean orphans. Most of the funds will go to college scholarships. KKOOM currently supports 5 college students who grew up in Korean orphans, and we hope to continue to support more in the future.

 Posted by at 8:54 pm
Jun 212014
 

Three of our five KKOOM college scholarship recipients just finished their first year semesters in college, and we wanted to use this post to let them introduce themselves. Here are their firsthand biographies.*

First-year college students

First-year college students


Yoonjung, Gumi University, first year, early childhood special education major

I decided on my major because I want to be able to share the love and grace I received while growing up in a children’s welfare institution with others. The pain and challenges I’ve overcome inspire me to want to help others do the same.

Upon entering my first semester in college, I was most looking forward to making new friends, experiencing a new environment, and learning new things on my way toward adulthood.

The KKOOM scholarship helped out with my daily living expenses and gave me some extra margin to enjoy myself a little.

At the moment, my dream is to become a social worker. Others tell me that I have a strong sense of responsibility, and I enjoy helping others.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, so I’ve always enjoyed going to the library to borrow books.

Sunghee, Korea Polytechnics Gumi University, first year, electronics major

I wanted to study electronics, which I had exposure to in high school, along with something else, and automated systems was a good fit.

In my first semester, I was most curious about how quickly I would adapt to college life. I was really looking forward to it and really nervous at the same time.

I’ve been saving money from my part-time job to pay for my living expenses, but the KKOOM scholarship has covered all of my textbooks and study aids, which I would’ve otherwise had to take care of on my own.

My dream is to enter a large company after graduation. I enjoy making and assembling things, so I hope to enter a suitable profession in the manufacturing realm.

On a personal note, I really enjoy soccer, even though I am not especially good. I am especially looking forward to the 2014 World Cup.

Junghye, Gyeongbuk Science University, first year, professional cosmetology major

Ever since I was young, I wanted to become a make-up artist and a hair designer. After graduation from high school, I received my hair dresser’s license and began working as a stylist in a salon. After nearly 10 years, I decided to go back to school to get my professional cosmetology degree and license in make-up design.

Returning to school allows me to learn about so much more than just hair. I’ll also be studying health and beauty generally in addition to make up and body art.

The KKOOM Scholarship will cover some of my school expenses and license exam fees.

In my free time, I enjoy traveling, so whenever I have a chance, I like to visit the mountains or the ocean. I also enjoy reading.

Whenever I get the opportunity to make someone feel beautiful, I feel an overwhelming sense of happiness.


Wednesday, June 25th is Microsoft YouthSpark Bonus Day. It starts at 12:00 PM Noon EDT and goes for 24-hours or until funds run out. All donations to our “Support for young adult Korean orphans” on GlobalGiving will be matched at 100%! Please consider giving generously on YouthSpark Bonus Day!

*Biographies translated from Korean to English by Aimee Jachym.

 Posted by at 9:56 am
Apr 122014
 

For the past 4 years KKOOM has participated in fundraising opportunities through GlobalGiving. Born of an idea from two World Bank executives GlobalGiving is a grassroots fundraising platform for grassroots nonprofits like KKOOM to raise funds for our causes. You know your money is going to a good cause because GlobalGiving ensures only quality programs are funded through strict oversight.

KKOOM inaugurated its first GlobalGiving campaign by raising over $10,000 and winning first and third in two competitions! It was an exciting time for KKOOM, for our generous supporters, and never would have happened without yours and GlobalGiving’s help.

One of the hallmarks of GlobalGiving is their continuous efforts to increase donor fundraising through their Bonus Days. This upcoming Bonus Day on Wednesday, April 16th is extra special in that a whole 50% of funds donated to KKOOM through GlobalGiving’s campaign will be matched by GlobalGiving and Microsoft. 50% doesn’t happen very often, which is why we are extra excited by this opportunity.

The specific program we are fundraising for is KKOOM’s College Scholarship Fund. KKOOM provides scholarships for achievement-minded young Korean orphan adults. One of the first recipients was able to fulfill his dream of traveling the world and changing peoples’ perceptions of Korean orphans and achievement. Five more this year are recipients of the award. The orphanage staff remark on the level of achievement these young adults have steadied themselves toward. KKOOM would like to further the capacity for more worthy orphans this year to take the steps toward their professional lives. Participate in the upcoming Bonus Day on Wednesday, April 16th and watch how your generous donation affects the lives of orphans.

KKOOM would like to give a special thank you to GlobalGiving and Microsoft for making this all happen!

Also, thanks a million to you, our awesomely supportive donors! Don’t forget to check out our GlobalGiving website for College Scholarship Fund updates and to donate – with matched funds – this Wednesday, April 16th!

One of KKOOM's first College Scholarship Fund recipients before jetting off to travel the world

One of KKOOM’s first College Scholarship Fund recipients before jetting off to travel the world

 Posted by at 6:06 pm