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

12 Days of KKOOM – #6) Hiring of Chief Administrator

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Dec 172017
 

Here is a reflection piece written by our Chief Administrator Grace Lee:

2015 Samsungwon Christmas party with Fulbright English Teacher Assistants

Everything has come full circle. In December 2015 I was a KKOOM volunteer at the Christmas parties at Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel Children’s Home. I gathered Fulbright friends together to give back to the local orphan community, not knowing I would come back two years later as Chief Administrator planning it. Even with the changing of roles, the one thing that remained the same is seeing the true joy of the kids as they smiled through activity stations and waited in anticipation to receive their Christmas present.

Many of the volunteers asked how I got started working for KKOOM. After volunteering at the Christmas parties in 2015, I stayed in touch with Aimee because of Fulbright Korea shared experiences and saw her as a mentor. I also personally connected with her because at the time, she was in the process of adopting a special needs boy. And I have always had the heart to adopt one day in the future. In December 2016, I joined the Board and helped increase social media presence with consistent weekly posts and created our Instagram account.

In February of this year, I reached out to Aimee to get professional advice as I was looking into graduate school options. I expressed concern that I didn’t want to work full-time as a teacher while going to graduate school. On that very same call, I was asked if there was an interest to help KKOOM. We had no idea whether it would be full-time or part-time, when I would start, and whether the Board would approve me but I said one word unaware of what the future held: “Yes.” Three months later, I was hired full-time as Chief Administrator.

Having dinner during the 2017 Samsungwon Christmas party with Hyuk

Being grateful is an understatement. The journey with KKOOM from volunteer to Board member to now being able to advocate for South Korean orphans every day has been a blessing. It’s touching to build relationships with donors who love and fight for our mission’s cause just as much as we do. Thank you to our donors, friends, Board members, and KKOOM’s President for entrusting me in this role. Looking forward to seeing what our community efforts can do to help support these kids on a daily basis.

With gratitude,

-Grace Lee, Chief Administrator

 Posted by at 8:33 am

12 Days of KKOOM – #5) Welcoming 8 New Babies

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Dec 162017
 

2017 was a season of new beginnings for eight children at Samsungwon Orphanage and Emmanuel Children’s Home. Since April 2016, we have clothed and bought basic necessities for fourteen newly arrived orphans. When they arrive to one of our orphanages, they usually just have the clothes on their backs. This is why KKOOM provides  “Welcome Boost Funds” of approximately $125 to help the child acclimate in their new environment to start thriving.

HyungJun arrived in July at 15 months with his teeth barely growing due to not receiving adequate amounts of water as a newborn baby. In just 3 months being at Samsungwon, it was clearly evident the positive physical growth through his stature. He now has teeth growing and although he is fighting a cold at the moment, we love having him at Samsungwon Orphanage. To read more about HyungJun, we invite you to click here.

One of the children at the Samsungwon Party on December 16th in Korea was smiling ear to ear to receive her Christmas gift. Jin arrived at the orphanage in September and you may remember the photo below (left photo) from the fall 2017 Welcome Boost blog post. Well, she is still sporting that same peace sign as she loves her gifts. We are so thankful for all the support from our friends from around the world who helped make Christmas cheer possible for the kids this year. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for helping us make a lifelong investment in orphan children.

 

 Posted by at 12:55 pm

12 Days of KKOOM – #4) Christmas traditions

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Dec 152017
 

We asked one of our Board members to contribute to a “12 Days of KKOOM” blog post. Here is some reflections from Board member Bill Downey who is currently in South korea.

I am back in Korea for my third Christmas party in four years of visiting Samsungwon orphanage as a KKOOM member!  This is also my fourth trip to Korea this year.  That is a lot of going through security check-ins, sitting at gates, riding to and from airports and checking in and out of temporary places to stay!

Traveling during the holidays is a stressful ritual many of us endure.   Typically, it is for keeping with family traditions that send us into the travel fray, whether it be getting to multi-generational events or taking the family skiing.  There is reassurance and validation in our consistency in observing annual events, what become our traditions.  We often go to great lengths to get there!

This year, I simply do not have enough vacation time to do all the things I would like to do.  As a result, my holiday visit to Korea will not only be short but will also prevent me from participating in what have become over the past few years, traditions, or being consistent.

I have never had children but I like to think that when the kids see me, it is not only good for them to see that I come back consistently and predictably, but that they are important in the lives of others.  It is this consistency, sometimes difficult to do, that forms the traditions in all of our lives.  Ultimately, I felt being there for some of the things I have done the past few years was still important and was better than not coming at all.

These events will hopefully be good memories for our kids and be the foundation for their holiday traditions as they go out and become adults and have their own families.

Our holiday traditions reflect the importance of love, togetherness, and generosity and if we can share those values with these kids, it has been a pretty good holiday!

Your contributions help us do these important activities!  Peace and the joys of the season to all!

Best,

Bill Downey, KKOOM Board Member

 Posted by at 12:42 pm