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 – #2) Do Good on Social Media

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Dec 132017

Today 81% of Americans have a social media profile, and there are 1.96 billion people using social media globally. There is no doubt that social media does a world of good for nonprofits like KKOOM.

On #GivingTuesday, over $274 million was raised online by charities across the world. Thanks to your support, KKOOM has raised $4,995 just through Facebook fundraising alone since November. We love the concept of peer-to-peer fundraising because it amplifies our voice to share our cause with more people.

KKOOM has used social media to raise money for Korean orphans since our inception in 2007. In 2010, we were awarded a permanent spot on GlobalGiving after raising over $20,000 in one month as part of an online challenge for newly vetted nonprofits. You could say that we were an “early adopter” of peer-to-peer fundraising.

It allows our friends, like you, to get involved by making online fundraisers using tools within Facebook. Here’s a screenshot of some of the personal online fundraisers that have been started by KKOOM board members and supporters:

Starting a fundraising campaign is extremely easy! It literally takes 3 minutes. Would you like to help bring more awareness to KKOOM and help us brighten the lives of the orphan children? All you have to do is go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/KoreanKids/fundraisers/. Click on “Raise Money” on the right top-hand corner of the page to start rallying friends and loved ones to support. You can invite 1 friend or all of your Facebook friends.

If you have questions about starting an online fundraiser for KKOOM on Facebook or other online platforms, you can contact me directly at grace.lee@kkoom.org. Let’s work together to continue improving the lives of South Korean orphans this holiday season. Thank you for your ongoing support! ~ Grace Lee, KKOOM Chief Administrator

 Posted by at 7:53 pm

12 Days of KKOOM – #1) Volunteer-Led Projects

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Dec 122017

In 2017, KKOOM supported 8 volunteer-led projects (VLPs), compared to 4 last year. These VLP projects allow expats and other volunteers in Korea to give back to the orphanage community using KKOOM funds for projects focused on reaching at-risk kids across Korea. Over the years, KKOOM has supported VLPs at approximately 20 orphanages and children’s homes.

Here are some highlights from VLPs we financially sponsored this year.

Oak Tree Project’s July Quarterly Meeting

We helped provide meals and supplies for Oak Tree Project‘s four quarterly meetings in 2017, which allow young adult college students who grew up in orphanages an opportunity to meet and bond with their mentors.

In early winter, we connected with a children’s home in Seoul to fund sledding entrance fees for kids who didn’t have relatives to visit them over the long school vacation.

We funded two soccer camps in 2018. One was held in April at Yongsan Army Base where middle and high school boys from Geon and Myeong Jin’s Children Homes had a friendly match with their volunteers. We also loved funding Jerusalem Ministry‘s annual soccer camp for boys from different children’s homes across Seoul. To see their video of the camp, see below

Jee Lee on international trip to Japan with 2 girls from Myeong Jin Children’s Home

In the summer, we supported Myeong Jin Home to send two of their girls on an international trip to Japan, helping to pay for entrance fees and transportation costs.

In 2018, we look forward to supporting more projects that align with our mission to improve the lives of South Korean orphans. To continue supporting Volunteer-Led Project initiatives, you can donate by clicking here.

 Posted by at 7:28 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 12 – That’s a Wrap!

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Dec 262016
The kids at Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi had a great time at the 2016 KKOOM Christmas Party

The kids at Samsungwon Orphanage in Gumi had a great time at the 2016 KKOOM Christmas Party

Well, it’s already Day 12 of our 12 Days of KKOOM blog series. We hope you’ve enjoyed all of the posts. Whether you’ve been a KKOOM supporter for years or just stumbled across this page today, we hope you can get a sense of how regular people, like you, help make life better for Korean orphans in a variety of ways throughout the year. We invite you to contact us to learn more about our work and encourage you to consider making a year-end donation so we can continue the things we wrote about for the past 12 days in 2017.

Before you go, please check out a video compilation of photos from our 2016 KKOOM Christmas Party at Samsungwon in Gumi, South Korea.

In case you missed any of the previous posts, here are direct links to go back and check them out.

Day 1 – Holiday Giving Kick-off
Day 2 – Summer Fun
Day 3 – Lucky to Be Where You Want to Be for The Holidays!
Day 4 – Samsungwon Christmas Party
Day 5 – Welcome Boost Program
Day 6 – Arts and Crafts Camp
Day 7 – Preschool Program
Day 8 – College Scholarship Program
Day 9 – Children’s Day in Korea
Day 10 – A Special Day with Special Children
Day 11 – Christmas Celebration with Emmanuel Children’s Home

Thank you! May you have a fabulous year-end and an even better 2017! See you in the New Year!

 Posted by at 5:46 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 11 – Christmas Celebration with Emmanuel Children’s Home

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Dec 252016

Christmas Celebration at Emmanuel Children's HomeKKOOM celebrated Christmas with the 93 children at Emmanuel Children’s Home in Gimcheon, South Korea this month by providing the opportunity for each child to buy a Christmas gift of their choosing at a local superstore. KKOOM gave each child a gift certificate, and the children went to the store with their house parents to pick out their presents. As you can see from the pictures, the children had a great time.

Additionally, on December 18, KKOOM Board members, Aimee Jachym and Bill Downey, joined the children’s weekly church service and then treated all of the children to a delicious duck barbecue lunch across the street from the children’s home for the third year in a row. The kids all enjoyed the meal, as they got to grill meat (which is always fun for them) and eat to their hearts content.

Emmanuel kids go shopping for their own presents with gift certificates from KKOOM

For us, it was a fun day and good to see all of the kids’ smiling faces and hear about their shopping excursion. We were glad to be able to bring a little holiday cheer to these 93 special kids, thanks to the generous support of KKOOM donors.

If you’d like to help us continue this work in 2017, please consider making a year-end donation by clicking the “donate” button at the top right of this screen. Thank you!

 Posted by at 7:46 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 10 – A Special Day with Special Children

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Dec 232016
Lunch with Children from Aemangwon, an orphanage for special needs children in Daegu, South Korea

Lunch with Children from Aemangwon, an orphanage for special needs children in Daegu, South Korea

Orphans with special needs are among the most wanting of attention and love this holiday season, and KKOOM was happy to be able to make today special for a few such children. Today we took six children from Aemangwon, an orphanage home for kids with special needs, in Daegu, South Korea to a nearby department store for an afternoon of lunch and shopping. We became connected with Aemangwon because of Minho, a child with special needs who lives there. You can read more about Minho in our previous blog posts here.

Except for Minho, who we also spent time with today, the children we took on this field trip today are wheelchair-bound and are rarely able to leave the orphanage home due to the challenge of transporting them in groups.  As such, they are home-schooled at the orphanage by teachers who come to teach classes, and they do not get to participate in field trips or other outings like “normal” children. For these children, an outing happens only two or three times a year and requires the assistance of one adult per child because the children do not have full control of their upper bodies to maneuver their own wheelchairs.

At the department store, we ate at a buffet restaurant, where the kids could eat as much of a variety of foods as they desired. For some, just getting to look at the variety of foods was a joy. You could tell that simply being in a restaurant and getting to do a “regular” activity like eat in public was novel and fun for these kids.

In addition to physical challenges, all of the children have varying degrees of speech difficulties, so communication was a little bit of a challenge at first. “Yes no” questions and body language, though, eventually worked just fine, and the kids quickly became eager to ask for refills of this and that and to try certain foods.

After a long leisurely lunch, we took the kids shopping for Christmas presents. One child wanted comic books, another wanted athletic shoes, another a jacket. One child couldn’t decide what he wanted — and is still thinking about it — so we promised to follow back up soon and get what he wants after he lets us know.

Today wasn’t an expensive day for us at KKOOM — we spent around $500 on this event — but for these children, we made memories that will last the whole year over. With your support, we will be able to make even more special memories for these wheelchair-bound kids at Aemangwon in 2017. We’ve already promised to return. If you’d like to make a year-end contribution to help fund our next visit, you can do so by clicking the “donate” button at the top right of this page. As always, thank you for your support!

 Posted by at 6:54 am

12 Days of KKOOM – Day 9 – Children’s Day in Korea

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Dec 222016
Kids at Samsungwon receive their presents on Children's Day, May 5, 2016

Kids at Samsungwon receive their presents on Children’s Day, May 5, 2016

Children’s Day is a national holiday in Korea on May 5, and kids and adults alike have the day off from school and work. Families spend time together and parents treat their children to special meals and presents to mark the day.

For children in orphanages, however, Children’s Day can be a sad reminder of the “typical” lives they don’t get to lead. At KKOOM, however, we try to help give these children “normal” experiences by celebrating holidays with them and providing personalized gifts that do not fit in the standard government-supported orphanage budget.

This year, we enlisted the help of a retired house mom who worked at an orphanage for more than 30 years to buy individual presents for each child at one orphanage on Children’s Day. The children submitted their wish lists, and like Santa Claus, the retired house mom meticulously went store to store and purchased gifts for each child. You can read more about Children’s Day and how we made that day special for kids, thanks to KKOOM supporters, in a previous post here.

If you’d like to help us continue to make lives a little more normal for kids in Korean orphanages, we invite you to make a year end contribution here on our website. Thank you for your support!

 Posted by at 6:24 am
Dec 212016
Some of the KKOOM College Scholarship Recipients since 2011

Some of the KKOOM College Scholarship Recipients since 2011

We started the KKOOM College Scholarship Program five years ago to help make going to college a little easier for Korean orphans. To date we have supported 14 students in their studies, and 12 have successfully either completed their degrees or are making good progress toward graduation.

The first student we supported in 2012, Jindong, is now set to graduate in the winter and will enter the workforce immediately next year. He landed a dream job in Seoul at SK, one of Korea’s largest and most admired companies. Competition for prized jobs is fierce among college seniors, so despite Jindong’s strong grades and outstanding credentials, the odds were not in his favor to get a job at a major company. Yet, he did very well on both the written examinations and in-person interviews and was actually offered two jobs — one at Samsung Card and one at SK. We are very proud of Jindong and all of his achievements and look forward to following his success as he enters the working world.

Other KKOOM college scholarship recipients are also doing well. One young adult owns her own hair salon. It is small but successful, and she enjoys being in charge of her own affairs and clients. Another is pursuing a managerial career at a national chain restaurant. Another former student is working at a Samsung Electronics customer service center, where he fixes broken cell phones that people bring in. Recently, another got married and is working as a nurse in a nearby town.

The paths the KKOOM college scholarship recipients have taken are certainly diverse, but they are overwhelmingly successful, especially in comparison to the average young adult who ages out of an orphanage home without a college education. By encouraging young adults to consider going to college and supporting their financial expenses, we hope that the current college students can serve as role models for their younger “brothers and sisters” who look up to them in the orphanage homes.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our College Scholarship Program, you can check out previous blog posts here. We hope you will consider supporting our work by making a year-end donation so that we can help even more students go to college. As always, we appreciate your support.

 Posted by at 6:54 am
Dec 142016

KKOOM’s Holiday Giving Campaign begins today with our first of twelve posts — the 12 Days of KKOOM. You can help by clicking the donate button (at the top right of this page) and making a US tax-deductible donation of any size!

The first $5,000 raised will go to purchase Christmas gifts for children in orphanage homes in Gumi and Gimcheon, South Korea and help put on holiday parties at both homes. (Many gifts will be purchased directly by generous volunteers in Korea, but several children’s gifts will be purchased with KKOOM funds.) Donations collected over and above our goal will go in our general fund so we can help kids all year long.

If you donate $35 or more before December 31, 2016, you will receive a picture of and a card from a child in whose honor your gift is given. We’ll also send pictures and cards to our regular monthly donors as well as anyone who signs up to give a recurring monthly gift of any size.

We’re so grateful that you’re interested in helping us improve the lives of Korean orphans, and over the next 12 days, we look forward to telling you more about our work and recapping our highlights from 2016. If you’re ready to support our work this holiday season, please donate now! If you have questions, please contact us at your convenience.

We’d also be appreciative if you took a minute to “like us” on Facebook or let your family and friends know what we are doing. Thank you so much for helping us make 2016 a brighter year for hundreds of kids living in Korean orphanages.

 Posted by at 8:36 am

12 Days of KKOOM: #12 Christmas Recap from KKOOM!

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Dec 252015
A child at an orphanage celebrates Christmas with KKOOM.

A child at an orphanage celebrates Christmas with KKOOM in Korea.

Merry Christmas from all of us at KKOOM and thank you for your support all year long! We are still resting and recovering from a wonderful week of Christmas events at orphanages in Korea, but on this 12th and final installment of our 12 Days of KKOOM, we wanted to share with you a video from our Christmas parties in Gumi and Gimcheon. Check it out below!

We’ll be back with you in the New Year to share more exciting developments and our plans for 2016!

 In case you missed any of our previous posts, here’s a full list of our 12 Days’ topics.

  1. Post-high School Young Adult Travel: Our Trip to America, part 1
  2. Our Trip to America, part 2
  3. Reflection from Board Member, Bill Downey: An Exciting Year with KKOOM
  4. Update from JD
  5. Jerusalem Ministry Camps
  6. Who is an orphan?
  7. Christmas Parties
  8. Levi’s Donation
  9. Preschool Program
  10. Flashback to 2004
  11. Merry Christmas from all of us at KKOOM!
  12. Christmas Recap

If you haven’t already done so, we invite you to consider making a year-end contribution to support our work with Korean orphans in 2016. You can make a US tax-deductible contribution by clicking the “donate” button on the top right. Thank you so much for your generosity and interest in our work!

 Posted by at 10:00 am