Archive for the ‘ Fund-Raising ’ Category

Winners Winners Coffee Dinner!

The Doka Coffee Estate: Costa Rica

Doka coffee is known to many as the best coffee in Costa Rica. I'd agree.

The winner of the blog subscription contests are: Kate Ouellette, Kimberly Ferencz, Chuck Robertson, Alison Despres, Daryl Poeira, Joseph Ho, Susannah Williamson, and Remy Haynes! You all will be receiving a thank you card, printed photo with a special back story from the trip (different for each winner), and some random little goodies from Costa Rica. All for just subscribing to this blog. What a deal. Please, if you have not yet, email or message me your mailing addresses. It will take a little while for me to gather everything, but I guarantee you it will be worth the wait. And the grand prize winner, who will be receiving all of the above and a bag of amazing coffee straight from the Doka Estate is Joseph Ho. This is some good stuff. The estate is located on the fertile slopes of the active Alajuela Poas Volcano, which we hiked to the top of after a day of distributing shoes.

All other donors and sponsors will receive a thank you card and photo. Please email me your mailing address or DM me on Twitter, as soon as possible. Lots more news to follow, including news of a return visit to the land that stole my heart in May of 2012. Check back soon.

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To donate to the Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation, please click here. A permanent link is now at the top of the blog.

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Sticker Factory

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We are madly putting sticker packets and little sticker books to bring for the kiddies! Some of you have inquired about making donations still and/or helping out. You may make a donation directly through my PayPal site in order to help defray these costs and keep piling on the toys! Please click the PayPal button below. As a registered Sole Proprietor in the state of Washington, I can provide you with any necessary documentation. Thanks again for all of your support.

Human Nature will Never Fail to Surprise

PEACE: Sign in Fremont, Seattle, WA

And That's What It's All About

And That’s What It’s All About

Most obvious statement of the decade? The economy sucks.

We have all been affected by it in some way — whether we’ve lost job(s), taken pay cuts, or dealt with the stress of a pink slip hanging over your head as you watched your co-workers clean out their desks one-by-one.

But in the midst of all of our hard financial woes, something still burns inside of each of us. We have witnessed it many times. Easiest and most obvious example to relate to? 9/11. If only for a few hours, we all stood together. And I don’t mean in the patriotic sense. Sure we all heard the anthems, saw the flag until it no longer held meaning, and were saddened every time we lost a friend, brother, or community member who volunteered to ‘fight for freedom’, but the entire world screeched to a halt for a second. Any human with an ounce of a conscience stopped and reflected. Strangers smiled at each other and struck up conversations. Estranged parents and children picked up phones. Some people sat solitary, quietly mourning the atrocity of pure evil that was simply too difficult to even begin to comprehend. But one thing unified us all that day, if even for a brief subconscious moment. We all felt vulnerable, helpless, and inconsolable. We all wanted to do something to help.

9/11 is an extreme example that affected the entire world and changed the course of history, but we all experience things in our lives that have similar effects. We get a phone call. A father has cancer and suddenly we feel guilty for getting angry that we [insert trivial daily life episode here].

During Hurricane Katrina most of us had those same feelings. How could so many lives be lost on American soil? Where was FEMA? Why didn’t the government offer more protection? Our safe American cocoons that took so long to spin again in a post 9/11 society suddenly started to unravel.We slowed down again. Maybe this time we were a bit more numb and used to such large-scale heartbreak. Some gave blood, emptied closets to fill bag after bag of clothes for the victims, while others gave money. Some simply sat and had quiet moments of reflection in honor of the victims, while others swapped vacations in Europe to go to New Orleans and help rebuild. But one thing rang true once again — the majority of us wanted to do something to help.

Wayne Elsey, founder of Soles4Souls, Inc. had these same feelings, first after the tsunami struck Southeast Asia and next when he sat and watched the tragedy of Katrina unfold before his eyes. Although he had helped coordinate about a quarter of a million shoes be delivered to the victims of the tsunami, he felt compelled to keep helping those who faced such sudden tragedy. Through the help of some colleagues and the support of many, Wayne has helped send over a million pairs of shoes to the victims of Katrina. Seeing the impact of the efforts, Wayne started Soles4Souls, Inc. a year later. It has been growing stronger ever since.

When I decided to sign up to travel to Costa Rica with Soles4Souls, I did what I usually do when it comes to matters of the heart. I didn’t think twice. As I actually started to try to raise funds, while juggling my complicated work-fueled life, I became worried. How the hell I would get enough people to hand me money in a time of widespread financial crisis? There were factors working both for and against me. As an Art Director, I worked with teams of brilliant problem solvers at places like Microsoft and Razorfish. I had soaked up enough information about social strategy and using digital media for good. I knew I could apply those skills to help raise awareness and drive donations. I had (and still have) to put in a great deal of my money for things like the initial trip deposit, domestic RT air fare to Miami, as well as lodging, etc. I opened a second savings account early on and made sure I put aside enough weekly to at least cover payment milestones should donations not cut it. I figured I could buy some time at very least.

Then my life rapidly began to change. I went through two layoffs and began dealing with a series of unexplained illnesses. Over the span of three months, I went to 30 medical appointments. My symptoms ranged from debilitating fatigue and intense all-over pain to daily migraines and flu-like symptoms. After being tossed from specialist to specialist and eradicating scary diagnoses one-by-one (MS, lupus, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer again…), my docs finally settled on Fibromyalgia. Although skeptical, I swallowed the diagnosis and began treating the symptoms of this mysterious illness with vitamins, supplements, and a complete overhaul of lifestyle and diet. No more late nights. No more having “a couple of beers” to watch the game. No more dairy. No more gluten. And the worse part? All of my money and energy went to treating this disease so I could continue to live as normal of a life as possible. These changes were a hard pill to swallow for a woman whom, just six months earlier, was at the top of her game in digi-mobile-touch-dev-design media space. Hop a red-eye to Atlanta for a brainstorming session? Right. I was too tired to get up and drive down the street for gas.

This happened over the course of six months or so. I was doing okay, until recently I started feeling unbearably ill. Told it was the flu and I was going through a Fibro flare, I decided to finally listen to my gut and demand a Lyme test. I had acute Lyme once, while living in Massachusetts at the age of 25. My body has never been the same since. I went through shorter episodes of similar symptoms that I am having now. They are all the telltale symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease, a much more serious disease that most of the medical community refuses to acknowledge as real. More on all this in what is sure to evolve as a new blog, Why did you become a doctor if you don’t want to help people?

My tests have come back positive. I am waiting for next steps, which are almost impossible to get as most doctors will not treat chronic Lyme due to its controversial nature.

So why bring this all up? We all suffer in some way or another. However, through it all, you came through. You not only came through for me, but for a small population of children in Costa Rica who suffer daily in ways unimaginable to any of us. Every time you made a donation, it warmed my heart and gave me the incentives I needed to push on. Amongst the generous donations of my close friends, there were donations from people I have never met, some that I haven’t seen since fourth grade, and some that I haven’t even heard from since high school.

Despite all the hardships we have experienced, you came through. And I cannot begin to explain to you what that means to me. Every time I place a new pair of shoes on the foot of a child, you will all be there in spirit. Know you made a difference. Know that you may have saved a life.

I am humbled and wish peace and good karma to you all.

More to follow soon…

Jamie Lynn Despres

To make a donation via PayPal to help defray my personal costs and/or to purchase additional goodies for the children, please click this button:

The Final Countdown: A few more Dollars and a Double Dollop of Shampoo!

iSafety First

I worked with Kimberly Ferencz, who constructed this conspicuously adorable iPad cover for the trip.

** Update: As of 6:00 on June 24th, the travel fundraising goal of $1750 has been achieved (and even topped; impressive) by the League Lab Crew! Holla at your leagues. More info to follow. Still seeking other donations listed below and will be collecting and purchasing small toys to give to the children as well. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post! THANK YOU RADICAL PEOPLE! ***

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Hola!

To all who have made donations, provided words of encouragement, or who have been a positive force in my life at one time or another, I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU. I have less than 2 days to reach my goal of $1750, which leaves only $173! And now for the please part…

If you have not donated yet, please consider doing so today! Your gift is tax-deductible, and no gift is too small. $1 puts one pair of shoes on a child from La Carpio, a sewage ridden slum on the outskirts of San José. Without proper shoes, children can easily catch debilitating diseases. No shoes means no school. No school means no education. Unfortunately, for the children of La Carpio, these factors inevitably lead to dead ends. If he/she lives through adulthood, there is a high chance of becoming a drug dealer, prostitute, and/or victim of violence.

This is TRULY a case of $1 making a difference. You may help me hit my goal of $1750 by viewing my profile where you will find more info about why I am making this journey. I will be updating this blog as regularly as wi-fi allows on the trip, and will be loading it with all sorts of wonderful stories and photos upon my return. All current donors and sponsors appear in the right column. PLEASE if you would like your name to link to a site (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog, etc.), let me know! All businesses who make a donation of $30 or more may send along their logo and I will include a direct link to your site. Soles4Souls will be Tweeting my blog posts from their account. That’s a large reach. Be sure to subscribe (sign-up is in right column) to this blog to follow the journey and see the difference YOU helped make.

Can’t make a monetary donation at this time? Please spread the word over the world-wide web’s fancy sharing services.

Want to help in other ways? Because of my recent medical misfortune of the diagnosis of an auto-immune disease, I will be traveling to Costa Rica with a ton of meds/vitamins. To keep things light, I am looking for donations of small trial size samples (foil packets, wipes, small bottles or tubes) of hair, face, body, and other health products. Sephora, Duque Salon of Ballard, and many friends have kindly donated. These samples are easy to transport and throw away but impossible to buy from the shelves. If you have any hanging around, I would appreciate ANY item or brand that you could send my way. Please email me jamielynndespres[at]gmail[dot]com to arrange a drop off/pick up or please mail them directly to my apartment by July 21st. Just shoot me a message if you need my mailing address.

I happily plan on staying involved with Soles4Souls after the trip. In the Ballard hood of Seattle, an event to feature a shoe drive is already on the table.

Thanks so much for your incredible show of support. I am scared, nervous, but very excited. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates! I promise these photos and smiles will warm your heart, as your kindness and generosity have warmed mine.

Once the goal of $1750 is reached, if interested in making a donation to help defray my personal costs for the trip, please either use PayPal (below) or send a check via old-skool mail. This would be of great help, as all domestic travel, immunizations, domestic lodging, and the bevy of special travel items that a Fibro/Lyme patient must have on hand, have started draining the piggy quickly. I am registered as a Sole Proprietor in the state of WA and will gladly send you any documentation you require. You will certainly still be included on my blog, and the inclusion of links and logos is highly encouraged.

To make a donation via PayPal to help defray my personal costs, please click this button:

Muchas gracias!
Jamie Lynn Despres

Welcome to “The Best Shoes are Free”

As many of you know by now, I am joining Soles4Souls from July 25th – July 29th on a trip to Costa Rica that promises to be life-changing. During this trip, I will be joining 16 other volunteers to help distribute shoes and clothing to those in need. From the Soles4Souls web site:

The purpose of for this trip is to allow team members to experience firsthand Changing the World One Pair at a Time. Your work will focus on serving the needs of the Costa Ricans by providing individual attention in fitting the locals with clothes and shoes. Our team will be distributing shoes to groups of at risk youth and indigenous groups including at the Village of Hope in La Carpio just outside of San Jose.  At the Village of Hope we will supply shoes for youth and young adults ages 1-25.  We also work with other organizations to distribute shoes at two other similar locations in the San Jose area.

It is amazing to think about, but the sheer impact of fitting a child with brand new shoes is staggering.

Over 300 million children worldwide are without shoes.

Shoes are very often considered a required part of the school uniform in developing countries, and without shoes, many children are unable to attend school.

Many serious health conditions can be absorbed through the feet, even through the toughest soles. As the skin on the bottom of the feet toughens and thickens, large cracks can form, which allows parasitic infections such as hookworm and threadworm to penetrate the skin. In addition, constant cuts and scrapes to the feet and ankles frequently become infected and many of these infections can lead to ulcers and worse.

There is no substitute for the face-to-face, individual time that will be spent between volunteers and recipients. That is why these trips are so important. I will be keeping this blog as a place to first fund-raise for my trip and share wonderful articles, photos, and news from Soles4Souls, then to document my journey via photos, tweets, and blog posts. I ask, if you haven’t yet, to please consider making a donation via my personal fund-raising web site. Any amount, big or small, truly helps. One dollar can put one pair of shoes on a child and literally change his or her life. It is a small gesture, from the donation process to the actual fulfillment of distribution, but its impact is large and loud.

Not convinced? Visit Soles4Souls Facebook page and give them a “like”. Check out their amazing photo galleries and stories of recent trips to Haiti, India, and Peru. The stories are heartwarming and truly inspirational.

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