Apr 102018
 

With spring in the air, it’s a season of new beginnings. A new school year started in March 2018 as South Korea’s academic calendar begins in March and ends in December. KKOOM is proudly supporting three young adults to attend a college/university this semester. One is a new scholar and two are continuing their education to achieve their long-term goals. Both Yonghoon and Minyeal (continuing scholars) received a 4.29 GPA last semester- way to go gentlemen!

Each of our college scholars are committed to the same cause: SERVICE. They have chosen majors to make a difference in society, whether through social work, ministry, or the hospitality industry. We asked each scholar to answer a few questions for KKOOM so hope you enjoy learning about their career goals and hobbies/interests! Their answers were translated into English by our Chief Administrator, Grace Lee.

YONGHOON, 2nd year, World Cyber University, Major: Social Welfare

“I have been studying a lot harder than last semester and my grades have improved a lot. The most difficult thing last semester was that my professor was not listening to me in class and I did not have much knowledge. My goal this semester is to work a little harder, build up my knowledge about social welfare, and think about my future goals. Five years from now, I’d like to have my social worker certificate and be working at Emmanuel Children’s Home in Gimcheon.

 

 

 

MINYEAL, 3rd year (final semester), World Cyber University, Major: Pastoral Studies

“The most rewarding thing from last semester was participating in a 3 week field work practicum at Aemangwon Orphanage in Daegu. While there were some challenges with commuting there, I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to finish the practicum without any accidents. Usually there is always something really difficult about any given semester, but I seemed to finish fall semester without too much difficulties. As this is my last semester, I want to graduate with a grateful heart. Five years from now, I do not know how God will lead, but I will always obey. I will continue studying to become a praise minister to God, whether it takes 5 years, 10 years, or when I’m married. Learning in Korea is important, but learning from other countries is more important and necessary so I would love to serve abroad.”

SE-HEE, 1st year, Gumi University, Major: Hotel Tourism

“I chose my major because of my global overseas experience traveling to Sweden and Finland in high school as a freshman and going on a volunteer trip to Vietnam during my senior year in high school. I’m looking forward to a cocktail and casino class I have this semester. With the KKOOM scholarship funds, I will apply for a special course to improve my English proficiency. With my desire to work overseas, attending an university allows me to spend more time in English classes so I can speak more conversationally and fluently. My goal this year is to study English hard so I can work abroad. In my spare time, I like to travel, meet various people and do various activities.”

Thanks to our generous supporters and friends, we’ve increased each semester scholarship in 2018 from 500,000 KRW (~$470) to 700,000 KRW (~$657). KKOOM is grateful to you! Thank you for continuing to invest in our college scholars. You play an important role helping Yonghoon, Minyeal, and Se-Hee achieve their dreams. To donate directly to our college scholarship campaign, please click here.

With gratitude,

-Grace Lee, Chief Administrator

 Posted by at 6:16 pm

Success After High School Graduation

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Mar 272018
 

Beyond Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel Children’s Home, KKOOM continues to invest in the lives of the children who grow up in South Korean orphanages. Directly, KKOOM financially supports young adults to attend college with a 700,000 KRW (approximately $651) each semester to use towards college funds.

Sunghyun (L) and Taehyun (R) playing together in Spring 2005. Photo courtesy of KKOOM’s President & Co-Founder, Aimee Jachym.

Taehyun and Sunghyun grew up at Samsungwon Orphanage and started college in March 2018. Recently, they were accepted into Oak Tree Project’s college mentoring program. Oak Tree Project is a non-profit organization based in Seoul, South Korea, and its scholarship and mentoring program help Korean orphans after they graduate from high school with emotional support and financial aid. This programs keeps the students accountable and helps them succeed until graduation.

Taehyun and Sunghyun are the 2nd and 3rd students to be accepted into Oak Tree’s program from Samsungwon Orphanage. The Samsungwon house mothers and orphanage staff poured into their lives since they arrived at Samsungwon as toddlers. Taehyun will be attending KyungWoon University with the dream of becoming a flight attendant, and Sunghyun will be attending Chungju National University to study architecture. KKOOM’s President and Co-founder, Aimee Jachym, has known both young men since they were in preschool. She describes them as follows:

“Taehyun was ‘eagle boy’ to me for a number of years. Erika (KKOOM’s other Co-founder) and I were hosting our biweekly playtime with toys purchased by American friends and donors in Samsungwon’s 2nd floor general purpose room in 2005, and Taehyun came over with a bird-like block creation, shouting ‘eagle, eagle, eagle’ and jumping up and down. Erika and I wondered where he had learned ‘eagle’ of all things. It turns out, he had been having some exposure to English at his preschool. Perhaps the reference to flight was a foreshadowing of Taehyun’s desire to build his career serving others as a flight attendant in the sky.”

“Sunghyun, on the other hand, was more quiet and reserved at our playtime sessions. He was clearly the baby of his room’s family at Samsungwon, and his house mom showed a deep, maternal affection for him. He was often more reserved in his interactions, but it was hard for him to hide his curiosity about the world. I think his favorite activity was painting his toenails back in 2005. Now, it’s probably sleeping because of all of the studying and hard work he’s had to put in to gain admission to a national university studying in a highly competitive major (architecture).  For me, one of the most rewarding things to see is how kind and patient Sunghyun is with his younger siblings at Samsungwon; he definitely pays forward the affection and love that he’s been shown.”

“KKOOM is incredibly proud, and so am I, of Taehyun and Sunghyun. In many ways, they were and are ‘our babies,’ young children we’ve been fortunate to support from the start. With the help of our friends and donors, they’ve grown up with positive memories of KKOOM Christmas parties,  summer camps, and field trips. They’ve benefitted from the example of their older orphanage siblings going off to college and getting successful jobs. They’ve overcome immense challenges on their own and with the help of others, including KKOOM. And most importantly, they’re equipped for success, because of what lies within themselves and because of the support they’ve been given.”

Sunghyun (L) and Taehyun (R) enjoying street food snacks in between their interviews in Seoul for Oak Tree Project’s Mentoring Program.

KKOOM partners with Oak Tree Project by providing financial assistance to their programs and events, such as quarterly meetings held for their mentors and college students. We recently sent them funding to plan their 3rd annual retreat to help their iron chef meal activity for 35 young adults, staff, and mentors. We proudly support this organization as they help increase success for Korean high school students beyond graduation and help provide a positive community during their collegiate career. Congratulations Sunghyun and Taehyun on being accepted into Oak Tree Project’s Mentoring Program! 

 Posted by at 4:20 pm

Winter 2017 Update – Thriving in a positive environment

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Mar 202018
 

HyungJun is loved at Samsungwon as the youngest child at the orphanage.

When KKOOM’s Chief Administrator traveled to South Korea in December 2017 to plan our annual Christmas parties at Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel Children’s Home, she was most excited to meet the children. Leading up to this trip, the only thing she knew about them were information submitted in applications by their house mothers and photos of the children. Since her winter 2017 travels was her first business trip to Korea as Chief Administrator, she highly anticipated spending quality time at the orphanages.

The week of the Christmas party for 54 children at Samsungwon Orphanage, Grace spent time playing with the children in their individual homes, including our preschool scholar, HyungJun. HyungJun is 19 months old and arrived at Samsungwon in July 2018, weighing about 5 pounds below the average weight of a one year old. He is now thriving in a positive environment.

He loves to shake, shake, shake as he dances to music beats. There was pure joy on his face as he moved up and down to the music, while simultaneously clapping (the boy has rhythm!) Being shy is a part of his personality trait. Typically the only people he allows to hold him is his house mom and the boys who live in the same home. By the second day at the orphanage, Grace was able to hold HyungJun; the staff and his house mom said it was a breakthrough to see him opening up to an unfamiliar face in such a short time.

HyungJun enjoying his new toy car from Christmas

Although he had a cold during Grace’s visit (it was peak season for the flu), he was in good spirits. He rested peacefully as his house mom held him. While he did shed some crying tears when he received his Christmas gift from Santa, we absolutely love the photo of him on his new toy car that was purchased by our Chief Administrator sponsoring his wish list item through her personal expenses.

HyungJun is dearly loved at Samsungwon Orphanage. The older boys in his home take care of him with strong responsibility, greeting him immediately as they came home from school and wanting to hold him.

Without you, KKOOM could not send HyungJun to preschool. Thank you very much for helping to enrich his life. You have played a direct role in supporting his education; as he continues to be supported at the orphanage by staff, house moms, and the other children at Samsungwon, we are grateful you are investing in the lives of toddlers like HyungJun.

With gratitude,

Grace Lee, Chief Administrator

 Posted by at 12:03 pm

Interview with Minyeal, 2017 Scholarship Recipient

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Jan 092018
 

Minyeal (in plaid shirt): Spring & Fall 2017 College Scholarship Recipient

With your generous support in 2017, KKOOM funded 500,000 KRW (approximately $470 USD) scholarships to four college students for their spring and fall semester. These are young adults who grew up in Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi, South Korea. We asked one of the recipients, Minyeal, if we could interview him about his current studies and what his plans are for the future.

KKOOM does not discriminate against providing scholarships based on a scholar’s chosen major. While KKOOM is a non-religious organization, we respect and value Minyeal’s passion to pursue mission work as his career field. Minyeal’s answers to the interview questions were directly translated from Korean to English below:

1) When are you graduating and what are you studying?

  • I am a second year student at World Cyber University where I am dual majoring in missions and social welfare. In August 2018, I’ll be graduating from taking my online courses.

2) Why did you decide to go to college?

  • While simply attending church on Sundays, I decided to join the Praise Team at my church while being involved with other volunteer activities. Even though I don’t have much knowledge of the Bible, I trusted God while being the leader of the Praise Team. I wanted to attend college to learn more about God’s word and to continue worshipping God through songs and praise.

3) What has been your best/favorite experience in college?

  • College life is pleasant and exciting every day. Although it is online classes, it can be boring from time to time. When I listen to lectures, do assignments, and discuss things with classmates, the time is so intense. While it is intense, these times are the most enjoyable because I’m able to focus on my studies.

4) What has been your hardest experience?

  • I had a hard time during the first semester of my freshman year. At that time, there were so many unfamiliar words and sentences that it was too difficult and challenging to take the exams. However, I started studying little by little, and now I’m enjoying it.

5) What is your dream to accomplish after college?

  • My dream is to be a worldwide praise minister and my goal is to spread the gospel among the nations. I am currently in the process of achieving these goals after graduation. I will obey and follow God’s guidance and continue to work towards my dreams.

6) How has KKOOM helped support your dream?

  • The existence of KKOOM and its mission gives me great confidence and strength. I am grateful and thankful to KKOOM for its role in supporting me and showing interest while I pursue my dreams. Thank you once again for all the supporters from KKOOM. I believe that God will give blessings to KKOOM. I will always pray for KKOOM. Thank you!

If you would like to invest in a young adult’s life like Minyeal to help support their college journey, we invite you to donate here.

 Posted by at 6:35 pm

12 Days of KKOOM – #12) Christmas parties wrap-up

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Dec 232017
 

Samsungwon Party in Gumi – bright smiles, game given by donor, and flower mural

Emmanuel Christmas Party – amazing volunteers, Santa Claus, Captain America, and lunch together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On December 16th and 23rd, we hosted Christmas parties at two orphanages in Gumi and Gimcheon, South Korea. It’s an annual tradition for the children and they look forward to it every year. We were lucky to have our Chief Administrator present to plan both parties. The parties would not have been possible without the amazing volunteers who took time out of their busy holiday schedules to be there, so we thank you for your dedicated time to show up and spread Christmas cheer.

We thank our donors for your support! Receiving donations from Malaysia, United States, and South Korea, the children could enjoy festive Christmas activities while receiving Christmas gifts. Your giving means so much to the kids and we hope you see how you’ve brightened their holiday season through our photos and videos we’ve been sharing on social media.

Also, we want to give a huge appreciation to the staff at both Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel Children’s Home. Every day, there are staff and volunteers that help run the daily operations of the orphanages. We are able to continue supporting approximately 130 children at these two orphanages because of the staff we closely work with.

That’s a wrap on our 12 Days of KKOOM! Through the blog posts, it shows how your donations support South Korean orphans throughout the year.

In case you missed any of our previous posts, here’s a direct link below to read them.

Day 1 – Volunteer-Led Projects
Day 2 – Do Good On Social Media
Day 3 – Facebook Live For Samungwon Party 12/16
Day 4 – Christmas Traditions
Day 5 – Welcoming 8 Babies
Day 6 – Hiring Of Chief Administrator
Day 7 – A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Day 8 – Supporting 4 College Students
Day 9 – Reflections From Volunteer Liat Shapiro
Day 10 – Coming Full Circle
Day 11 – Enjoying Summer Vacation

Thank you! May you enjoy celebrating the end of 2017 and have a Happy New Year!

 Posted by at 10:05 pm

12 Days of KKOOM – #11) Enjoying summer vacation

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Dec 222017
 

Every year, the children at Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi, South Korea, look forward to an annual summer trip during their school break. It is a 2-3 day trip to wind down, enjoy their vacation, and have fun!

This August, the kids explored Everland Amusement Park. It is the largest theme park in South Korea and every year, there are approximately 7.3 million visitors, ranking it 16th in the world for the highest attendance at an amusement park. Perhaps you can imagine the chaos and mayhem of all the visitors in the park! During the 3 days and 2 nights, the kids created memories together, exploring the park with their friends and looking out for one another.

You can get a glimpse from the photos that the children really enjoyed themselves, whether holding up a peace sign in between the rides or eating a meal. By supporting KKOOM, you help create positive memories during the children’s summer vacation, whether that entails camping, going to a water park, or visiting Everland. The children love these outings, so thank you very much for investing in helping KKOOM provide fun, unique experiences for them!

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, one of our Board Members Bill Downey was able to attend the Everland trip this year to capture these great shots of the children. By the way, do you see a theme in the photos? It’s the infamous peace sign that’s found in a typical photo in South Korea. We hope to continue sharing stories of the kids on these summer trips with your financial contributions. If you’d like to make a general donation that could support an excursion like this, we invite you to click here.

 Posted by at 8:15 am

12 Days of KKOOM #10) Coming full circle

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Dec 212017
 

It’s been an honor and privilege to lead KKOOM for over 10 years. As its co-founder and president, it’s not surprise that, for the past decade, KKOOM’s story has closely intertwined with my own. A few months ago, I was asked to write an introduction for Emmanuel Children’s Home’s semiannual newsletter, which is published in Korean and distributed to Emmanuel’s volunteers and supporters. I’ll take the opportunity to share what I wrote below. I think it will give you a glimpse into my heart and my heart for the orphans we serve with the help of your gifts. May you all have a wonderful year-end holiday season celebrating traditions of new and old. Thank you for all you do for KKOOM! ~~ All my best, Aimee Jachym


Coming Full Circle By Helping Children.  I don’t remember it being cold then, but it was the middle of winter, so it must have been. What I remember most is the warmness of the children and the loving staff at Emmanuel Children’s Home. It was February 2011, and I came to visit Emmanuel for a week, spending time with the children, helping with their English homework and trying to better understand their needs. This was the beginning of many new relationships for me, filled with love, laughter, and many life lessons.  Through the years, the children and staff at Emmanuel have poured their hearts and lives into mine, and I hope that, in some small, way I have been able to give something back to them as well.

In 2007, I founded an American nonprofit organization, Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission, which is abbreviated, “KKOOM” or 꿈. The mission of KKOOM is to help improve the lives of children living in Korean children’s homes through volunteer outreach and educational opportunities. Since 2011, KKOOM has provided financial assistance and volunteer programming at Emmanuel. While KKOOM was established to help others, I must admit that in many ways, I have been the primary beneficiary of our work.

You see, I, like some of my friends at Emmanuel, was orphaned as an infant. I was born in Daegu and abandoned in front of someone’s house when I was about a week old. I was taken to a nearby police station and then to a local orphanage for babies. From there, I was adopted to a family in the United States and grew up surrounded by love and blessed with opportunities. But, I had a void. I didn’t know about Korea; I didn’t know my heritage; I didn’t know about the blood in my veins.

Coming back to Korea and establishing KKOOM gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my motherland, and with my family of brothers and sisters at Emmanuel and other children’s homes throughout Korea. Although KKOOM provides support and encouragement to them, these children provide so much more to me. They inspire and challenge me. They make me smile. They remind me of the hope that is our future.

I pray that all might find the same inspiration in and through the lives of these precious children, our friends at Emmanuel Children’s Home. As you continue to help them, may your lives be richly blessed; and as you are blessed, may you continue being a blessing for others.

 Posted by at 7:38 am

12 Days of KKOOM #9) Reflections from volunteer Liat Shapiro

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Dec 202017
 

Photo taken at 2017 Board Retreat in Boston. From left to right: Jaehwan, Aimee, Bill, Leanne, Grace, Tina, Liat.

Liat Shapiro is a dedicated volunteer for KKOOM whom we had the chance to meet over the summer during our Board Retreat in Boston. We asked her to share why she is involved with KKOOM and her personal story. Read her reflections below: 

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After removing my shoes, I opened the door and found myself in a conspicuously clean, warmly lit hallway. Glancing to my right, I found myself looking through a window at more than a dozen cribs holding little babies. To my left, was a room with older infants, crying, napping, playing. Standing in the Baby Home of Eastern Social Welfare Service’s (ESWS) teased out so many emotions. Sadness, a desire to cuddle each precious child, tears, a desire to somehow provide each baby with the love they deserved, smiles, a determination to help Korean orphans in any way I can for the rest of my life.  

You see, I was once a baby with just a name and a case number. I was once an orphan, but am an orphan no longer. At six months old, my amazing parents and the United States of America adopted me. Somewhere along the way, my parents chose to adopt my four younger siblings, all from South Korea.

In 2013, I visited Korea with my family. While in Seoul, we stayed in ESWS’s guesthouse. Due to a busy schedule, I only visited the Baby Home the last day. Right before jumping into a taxi to the airport, I spent a precious half hour interacting with the babies. As the door to the Baby Home gently shut behind me, I promised myself that in the future, I would integrate working with South Korean orphans into my career.

Four years later, I stumbled upon KKOOM. As a sophomore in college, it is difficult to be as involved with KKOOM as much as I would like. Finding the time and money for plane tickets to Korea are hard to come by, so I turned to an activity I do well: fundraising. Through my fundraising work with different organizations, I learned how to move past the fear of asking people for money. Fundraising for KKOOM has been the easiest fundraising adventure for me yet. I know exactly where my funds are going and personally know members of the Board of Directors. Their passion and heart for Korean orphans inspires me to fully dedicate myself to the small role I play in supporting KKOOM’s mission to help orphans catch their dreams.

I hope that one day, I will work directly with the precious children halfway across the world. For now, I will be content helping to fundraise scholarship money or support their Christmas presents. Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Twenty-one years ago, my adoption gave me a country, a family, and friends who encourage me to pursue my goals. Although I cannot legally adopt any of children KKOOM supports, I have adopted them as my little brothers and sisters who—though thousands of miles away—deserve the courage to reach for their stars.

-Liat Shapiro

 Posted by at 6:36 pm

12 Days of KKOOM #8) Supporting 4 College Students

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Dec 192017
 

This year, we had the pleasure of providing scholarships to four young adults during their spring and fall semester in college. KKOOM has two scholarship programs for preschool and young adults to continue their education. As Nelson Mandela says “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” With your daily support, we unlock educational opportunities for young adults to be successful in society. The students we have supported in 2017 are Minyeal, Yeonhwa, Yonghoon, and Mingyu.

To support our college students, KKOOM provides a semester stipend of 500,000 KRW, approximately $460. These funds help provide a variety of things for these orphan children that grew up at Samsungwon Orphanage. It helps cover textbook costs, transportation fees to/from the university, lodging, or tuition itself.

While in Korea, our Chief Administrator had the chance to meet a few of the college recipients. She recognized YongHoon (pictured to the left) and Minyeal (picture to the light) immediately after reading through their applications and writing more about their college experiences through KKOOM’s blog posts. Minyeal hopes to travel abroad after graduation for a short period of time, which allows him to be one step closer to becoming an international world-praise minister. He mentioned the expensive costs of going abroad including airfare and lodging costs.

Personally, our Chief Administrator is exploring ways to make this dream a reality for his desire to sing abroad. Minyeal will graduate from school towards the end of August/September 2018. We hope in the future we can share the good news of Minyeal’s trip abroad!

If you would like to contribute to our college scholarship funds, please click here. Any new recurring donation will be matched throughout the month of December! Thank you to our donors for investing in the lives of our future leaders – engineers, worship leaders, bakers, social workers, and business men and women.

 Posted by at 9:32 am

12 Days of KKOOM – #7) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

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Dec 182017
 

In May 2017, a retired military veteran reached out to KKOOM’s President, Aimee, saying he had photos of his time volunteering at Samsungwon Orphanage from 1972 to 1973. While Samsungwon Orphanage has been located in Gumi since 1980, it was previously located in Daegu. Mr. Stoll wanted to share the stories and memories from 44 years ago – what an unique opportunity to connect with him!

Delightfully, he shared 120 physical photos he digitized that we then uploaded to our Google drive. He also narrated 30 minutes of captions for the photos – we are inspired by his attention to detail. Aimee wanted some way to present these photos to Mrs. Shin, the Samsungwon President, at that time. While Aimee was in Korea in October, she made a few photo books to share the memories with the staff. It was very nostalgic for the staff to see photos from four decades ago.

We wanted to share a few photos of the children from the 70s with you.

Mr. Stoll heard about Samsungwon Orphanage in Daegu (now in Gumi) through a friend so when he first walked to the orphanage, he saw Air Force military personnel making a basketball goal by putting the pole in the ground (pictured behind the boy). This was a popular activity for both the kids and volunteers to enjoy together.

“They’re always smiling.” – Lee Stoll

Double exposed photo of the road from the military base to the orphanage in Daegu. To the right is an apple orchard (trees over the fence).

Pictured in the hanbok in the middle of the photo is Mr. Stoll. Samsungwon Orphanage gave him a going away party and as a gift, they presented him this handsewn hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) – such a kind gesture.

Just having fun, enjoying themselves. They’re really good kids. -Lee Stoll

The kids grew fond of a puppy that they were trying to feed milk to – so cute. We love sharing these precious moments with you that capture the orphan community during the 70s. The kids at Samsungwon Orphanage over several decades have gone from sleeping on the floors to having bunk bed style rooms in their houses with 7-9 other children/young adults. The location of the orphanage may have changed, but some things remain the same – the beautiful smiles of the children. Hope you enjoyed hearing these stories. Look out for more details in the future – we want to further share these little moments with you.

 Posted by at 11:36 am