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Improving the Lives of Korean Youth Through Outreach and Education

[Day #9] Why I Love KKOOM, Reflections from Margaret Cleveland

Margaret joined KKOOM’s Board of Directors in 2020

안녕하세요! Hello! My name is Margaret Cleveland and I joined the KKOOM (Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission) board in 2020. After spending almost a decade of coming to and from Korea in several capacities including teaching and volunteering, Korea feels like a second home. The warmth of the people, from the grocery store clerk to my elementary school students. The rich culture from the amazing palaces (Changdeokgung Palace being one of my favorites) to the colorful minhwa, Korean folk paintings. The out of this world food, like the spicy chicken dish called dakgalbi, the sweet sugar filled street food called hotteok and the cream filled bread shaped like fish called bungeo-ppang. 

Here’s a photo of Margaret with some of her students as a Fulbright Korea English Teacher (2015-2017).

Korea holds an incredibly special place in my heart. Over the years the people of Korea have shown me so much love and support that I cannot help but want to give back in some small way. Connecting with KKOOM has allowed me to give in a small tangible way, to stay connected with Korea, and make a small impact for children in Korea, first by donating and then by serving on the KKOOM board. 

After over a year of online virtual board meetings, I was nervous and excited to finally meet in person the KKOOM Board of Directors. To put the friendly faces and names together and get to work together to come up with unique and innovative ideas for leadership, fundraising, and connecting with the KKOOM community.

The KKOOM Board is made up of passionate leaders both in their own communities but also in the US and abroad. These individuals care deeply for the children’s lives KKOOM touches, for their caretakers, as well as the communities surrounding them in Korea. Our in-person board meeting’s purpose was to reflect on KKOOMs impact in previous years and most importantly focus on how KKOOM can continue to help and support the children’s homes going forward. If you have not already, please take a moment to get to know KKOOM’s board of directors at KKOOM’s website

Grace, KKOOM’s Executive Director, embodies her name leading with both grace, humility and a servant’s heart. While teaching in Korea with Fulbright, she volunteered at a Christmas party hosted by KKOOM and has since thrown her everything into working for KKOOM’s mission. She splits her time rocking it as the Diversity Director at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy and being KKOOM’s Executive Director. 

Aimee (KKOOM’s Co-Founder) and Leanne have both been with KKOOM since the beginning. They took their experience volunteering at Korean children’s homes and turned it into a lifelong mission to support Korean children’s homes. They are both still serving on KKOOM’s Board. 

Helen has a heart for social justice and human rights issues, is incredibly gracious, and is always one to give her time and expertise to benefit KKOOM and the children in Korea since 2012. 

Laura, a new mom and teacher, works each day to make education accessible to all and advocates for KKOOM to expand our resources for the children’s homes to support the development of the mind, body, and spirit for every child we serve.

Liat and Sabrina are some of the most passionate and involved young women I have ever known. They generously volunteer their time and leadership to multiple organizations all while continuing their education pursuing Master degrees. 

KKOOM’s Annual Board Retreat in Boston this year. From left to right – Helen, Margaret, Aimee (with her son), Grace, Sabrina, and Bill (Honorary Board Member). Missing in the photo are Board members Leanne and Liat.

The KKOOM organization is better for having these women serve. Our board retreat brought us together for the first time in two years and highlighted the challenges the children’s homes we support are facing. This past year with your help, KKOOM was able to find unique and creative ways to bring joy to children and the children’s homes we support. Providing computers to help students complete schoolwork and connect the homes with the outside world. Bringing a fun bounce house and outdoor water experience directly to the students. Helping host virtual English camps and classes as well as scholarships for students continuing education. Funding welcome boost funds to provide clothes and basic necessities for new arrivals to the home. Sponsoring new wardrobes, outdoor outings, and ice cream/pizza parties are just a few more of the ways your support of KKOOM helped make a direct impact. 

For over 14 years KKOOM has worked to meet the needs for children’s homes in South Korea. As an organization KKOOM is like a teenager, working on growing, developing, and blooming into the best organization we can be. But we need your help! Learn more about KKOOM, spread the word about our mission, become involved, ask questions, give when possible, volunteer, or serve on our board. Together we can work to make a direct impact in the lives of Korean children. 

-Margaret Cleveland, KKOOM Board of Directors


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