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Improving the Lives of Korean Youth Through Outreach and Education

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

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: 

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

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