Keeping the Dream Alive

by Kevin Wong on April 4, 2012

Cross post from the Philanthro Seattle homepage. Link here.

“Few people out there really understand how much these kids are lacking, and that’s just talking basic food and shelter. For my students to worry about what they eat or if they will have enough to eat for dinner, anything regarding their future is much more difficult to think about.

Yet having a group of young professionals like those that Philanthro were able to bring in gave them something tangible to reach for. They were able to see other young adults, especially males of minority backgrounds being successful and able to achieve not only a high level of education, but show what it looks and feels like to be successful, gives them the drive to work hard so they can overcome their circumstances.”

- Kelley Mao, 6th Grade teacher and Career Fair Host

We’ve all been asked the question before: What do you want to be when you grow up? And your reply might have been close to something like a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, or even a power ranger. Each one of those were pretty fantastic outcomes and certainly special in their own right. It was a question that granted us the power to imagine anything and believe in anything. But what if you didn’t have the freedom to imagine anything you wished. For some youth in our community, it’s a reality they face right now.

How Philanthro got involved
Fortunately, an old college friend, Kelley, reached out and asked if Philanthro could help out with a special project that is aimed to address this reality. She needed a group of young professionals to visit her school in West Center and speak with 6th graders aged 11 and 12, about what we did to be where we are today. As a twenty-something, I didn’t think I was in a position to share a story that could inspire these kids. But that wasn’t the point. You see, even graduating from college is a significant event and few believe it will be something they will accomplish. Having the opportunity to speak with young adults who have higher education and are working in a profession by choice gives them inspiration to imagine their own dream jobs once again.

There were eight of us with different professional backgrounds. Thanks to the amazing volunteers who helped out, the kids were able to learn about a wide range of professions from sales, marketing, graphic arts, business management, product development, customer service, to finance. The turn out offered a range of insights into different type of responsibilities with each profession, like the paths they would need to go to get there and the fun aspects that they could look forward to if they worked hard at it. The 6th graders were engaged and focused. Every student had questions and you could see in their body language the excitement that followed while talking to us. When we asked the 6th graders what they wanted to be when they grow up, we heard with great enthusiasm, “doctor”, “singer”, “teacher” and so on.

Something seemed to be working.

A worthwhile experience
The whole event was wildly exciting. Walking through the double doors of the school already gave me a heightened sense of anticipation and curiosity. It was a feeling that really brought you back to when you were young and everything was a a first time experience. Everything from the environment to the teams of students running around seemed to have built up a great deal of contagious energy. The feeling was great. It was an opportunity I would wholeheartedly recommend to others.

While the experience was fulfilling, it doesn’t solve the problem. Their homes and the people that surround them are still the same. They still need more positive influences in their life over the course of their childhood. Our visit helped, but it can’t be the last. There is a gap between the availability of successful young adults and the young students who have few, if at all, to look up to. Our teachers, like Kelley, are looking to you for support. If you are interested in working with youth, this is an easy one, and you can have a lasting impact.

Before I end this little story, I wanted to give a big thank you to the teachers, the students, Kelley, and the volunteers for making this possible. Philanthro wants to do this again and we hope that more young professionals will see the value in this type of outreach, especially amongst the younger population. The first few years in school are foundational to their development. We have an opportunity to partner with our community and our schools to help the youth live their dreams.

If you want to get in contact with the school or other Philanthro projects, let me know.

Kevin Wong
Co-president, Philanthro
Facebook / Twitter

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Illuminate Blacklight Fundraiser by Philanthro for foster youth & the YMCA

by Kevin Wong on March 29, 2011

Friends, I wanted to invite you to this very special event that’s near and dear to my heart. This event does two things: it’s a fundraising event for the YMCA’s foster youth transition program. The proceeds from the event will support the Y’s tremendous work towards helping youth learn life skills, find homes and be given a chance to live a normal life. We’ve all been (may still are) there, growing up becoming adults, except that we were fortunate enough to have the support from others to get where we are today. All you need to do is come out and celebrate with us and the Y will be able to continue helping youth at risk in our community here in Seattle.

The second reason this is a special event is because this is Philanthro’s launch event. Since helping found the Seattle chapter, my team and I have been excited about imaging the different ways we can help various non-profits in our area. We’ve been working on some smaller projects in the past few months getting our personal networks back into volunteerism. We’re quickly learning that this is our chance to come together and share our aspirations to help others who need it most. This event marks Philanthro’s starting point to meet others and seek opportunities to become more philanthropic. It’s easy and we’re all in it together. I hope you can join me.

Philanthro Seattle’s Illuminate Fundraiser

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Why Care? A social mixer supporting Foster Youth by the YMCA and Philanthro

by Kevin Wong on March 11, 2011

Come support the Y and Philanthro in our mission to bring awareness to the problems faced by foster youth. We had a successful volunteer day last month with over 40 people showing up and now we hope you can help us continue to spread the word about a great cause by coming to our event “Why Care?”, a social mixer with the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

While a few of us got to experience and hear the stories behind the change the Y has done, we want to bring that message to a bigger audience and need your help. Whether you’ve been looking to get back into philanthropy, want to meet like minded people or are curious about what the Y does, come join us and enjoy a few drinks for a good cause.

  • Learn about the issues foster youth face and how the Y is helping them to succeed firsthand from people at the Y
  • Enjoy happy hour prices all night in The Balmar’s private room
  • Quickly educate yourself about foster youth with our Y Care? activities
  • Meet other young professionals interested in giving back
  • Take part in our photo booth and more

Every person counts, all we ask is for your time and we promise to throw a fun event.

All of us at Philanthro are excited to introduce you to a side of the Y you probably didn’t know about and hopefully can give you a reason to give back to our community. Learn about an awesome cause, while also meeting good people and having fun for our second event of the year supporting the YMCA’s programs to help foster youth.

No cover with a $5 recommended donation going towards the Y.

This is part 2 of our 3 event series to draw attention to the problems facing foster youth and how to help them succeed.

Designed by Katrina Mendoza

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First annual MDA Muscle Walk was a huge success!

by Kevin Wong on February 13, 2011

First, I wanted to say thank you to all my friends and family members that supported me in beating my $500 goal. We not only beat my goal, but I also received contributions from 10 people. Even if you didn’t donate, spreading the word and passing the message along helped too. In total, the event raised $62,000 towards research and program costs that battle more than 100 different forms of muscle disabling diseases.

If you didn’t know, MDA in Washington is partnered with some of the leading institutions that fight diseases and cancer including University of Washington Medical Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research, Seattle Children’s and the SCCA. The money is being put to good use. Once the code has been cracked with this disease, it’s going to help eliminate a lot of pain, struggle and heartache many families like ours face today.

I wanted to also say thank you to SmugMug for sponsoring my campaign by providing me with free prints for the posters and postcards that I will be sending to my generous donors. SmugMug is my online gallery and printing service for KVW Photo and has provided an amazing service for me and my clients for the past two years. If you’re ever in need of a reliable, friendly, affordable printing solution, check them out. I couldn’t be more happy with my experience with them.

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Support my friend’s Hopes and Dreams

by Kevin Wong on February 7, 2011

I’m blessed to have talented friends who share their passion with the rest of us. 4nStereo (pronounced foreign stereo) just released their EP called “Hopes and Dreams.” This is exciting for all of us and I hope you get to enjoy their music as much as I have.

Also, they’re launching their Kickstarter to raise money for their first album starting tomorrow! In the meantime, you can also check them out on TheSixtyOne and follow them. I’ll update this post when the link is available. Spread the love!

Update
The Kickstarter campaign is now LIVE! Check it out here and also watch their video. I’m so proud of you guys. Please make their hopes and dreams come true! Link.

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Fundraising for the 2011 Muscle Walk Northwest

by Kevin Wong on February 1, 2011

Philanthro has been a great experience so far, but I also wanted to highlight another aspect of philanthropy that I am a part of. I recently joined as a member of the newly formed Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Young Professional Committee, or MDA YPC for short. Crazy acronyms rights? Well the short story is that this amazing national organization has started a new YPC to expand the influence MDA already has within the Washington state community. It’s an expansive network of people with an even more amazing history of support for families who need an extra helping hand.

The YPC’s first participating event is the 2011 Muscle Walk that is happening on Saturday, February 12th at Qwest Field. Our team’s goal is to fundraise $500, but I’m making $500 a personal goal of mine. I’ve already had two generous donations totaling to $150. With two weeks to go, I’m hoping you can help me get there soon. Contributions from $1 to $10 or more are all welcome. There’s never too little to give. If you can’t give, that’s okay! But please pass the word on.

All donations will receive a custom postcard just as a thank you. Donations over $50 will receive a 20×30 print enlargement. See what it looks like below.

Get me up to $500!

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A national platform with a local touch

by Kevin Wong on January 27, 2011

As Philanthro continues to grow by expanding to different cities and by developing more sophisticated methods to engage young professionals, we must remember that the foundation that supports everything is built on local participation. As I was working with our leadership team when we were first getting started, we shared our own ambitions with each other and translated them into a series of principles. These principles reflect what we want to do in Seattle and more broadly, what we want to do as a non-profit. I’d like to share with you the five principles that we have defined to guide our decision making, measure our success and ultimately remind us of our values.

  1. Set a new philanthropic standard for young professionals and the entertainment industry
    Every event that we host will be an example of hour others like ourselves can gather people together to help a charity
    The industry will recognize this desire and incorporate philanthropic values into their own practices
  2. Increase awareness about human problems
    Continue to support the education of global and local problems people face everyday
    Bring clarity and meaning to why these problems require the attention of others
  3. Establish long term relationships between communities
    Become a bridge between individuals and the charities that need help reaching them
    Facilitate and foster relationships that will eventually no longer require our involvement
  4. Achieve tangible results
    Sustain the business so that the organization can continue to grow and execute towards our vision
    Achieve high returns on events relative to the amount of work necessary to execute them (host small and large scale events)
  5. Grow together as an organization
    Learn from each other to mature our approach
    Collaborate with local and national leaders in their respective industries to develop unique opportunities

These may change in the next few years as we continue to mature here, but it summarizes the spirit of what we’re doing. Right now, Philanthro is growing to become a platform for young professionals to connect with philanthropy. It is the vision that we all share at the highest level, and it’s an exciting vision. Seattle will build on this vision to mirror the same success that Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego has demonstrated. Our mission is to craft an experience that inspires young professionals to articulate and apply their own skills towards programs that contribute to humanity. Please join us!

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23 volunteers at the 2nd largest Ronald McDonald House

by Kevin Wong on January 27, 2011

It all started with one person who asked his friends to help visiting families who needed a better place to stay because their child needed constant medical attention at distant institutions. His request turned into a six bedroom home that provided comfort and security for parents and siblings supporting their loved one. Now there are homes nationwide that help 1,100 families a year. Our team had the amazing opportunity to launch our first event at the 2nd largest Ronald McDonald house in Seattle, which supports one of my favorite charities, Seattle Children’s.

There were two memorable parts from that day: The first was watching a video that helped me understand who I was helping. The second was connecting with other volunteers. A group of us were sitting in a theater room where mothers who had stayed at a local RMHC shared their stories of relief. It all of a sudden felt personal and relevant. In just under 4 minutes, helping clean one of the three houses was the least I could do for them.

While cleaning, I met and talked to many other volunteers who I learned had generously given their time to this great cause for several years. They had the same idea our group had, except they continued to help the RMHC because it’s a non-profit they believed in. This is the realization that I hope others will find as a result of these events.

Special bonus memorable moment goes to Hsiao Chi, who went the extra mile by bringing in not one, but two boxes of goods that the house could use. All he did was put up a sign at work, and the boxes filled quickly. During our team meeting, he was officially awarded the “You Rock” trophy, which will be handed off to another awesome volunteer after Philanthro Seattle’s next event. Thanks again Hsiao!

We knew we were onto something special by starting Philanthro in Seattle. It was one of the volunteers at RHMC who confirmed this for us:

One hears that the young are self-absorbed and lazy. Knowing volunteers like you, I can vouch that it just isn’t true.

We’re all proud of the work we did that day, but we’re even more excited about the commitment we’re making to increase our level of community giving. It’s a climate for change that has been a long time waiting to happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.

Our rockstar Chief Marketing Officer, Billy Shih, also posted his thoughts as well here.

Lastly, if you like what we’re doing, let us know on Facebook!

Design by Katrina Mendoza

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Philanthroper turns micro-financing into charitable contributions

by Kevin Wong on January 27, 2011

I love seeing simple ideas, with simple actions make big change when everyone gets involved. That’s the power of Philanthroper, where they share stories of a non-profit and ask people to donate just $1 to support the non-profit’s program. Registered users also get to watch their contributions grow over time in a game like fashion. Game mechanics anyone? Check it out.

Oh, and they, they have a strangely similar name huh?

Philanthroper

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A retreat that revealed the opportunity I was looking for

by Kevin Wong on January 21, 2011

I still remember the day back in high school when a group of friends and I sat in the back seat of an old Mazda Protege, crammed shoulder to shoulder, with a trunk full of brown paper bags. We were a part of Key Club, a student volunteer program sponsored by our school. Our goal was to drop off these brown paper bags with letters asking families to kindly donate canned goods for the less fortunate. Back then, it was something to do, it was for a good cause, and it was a time to hang out with friends. A week had passed and we drove back to the same neighborhoods, except this time in a larger transport truck. To my surprise, the bags weren’t just full, some homes had two bags to offer! The generosity was amazing and it was exciting to realize how much people can help when you simply ask.

I miss that feeling, but it’s starting to come back again.

A group of 48 people, including myself, gathered as friends and we talked about doing something for a good cause. Sounds familiar right? As I sat in a room with people from LA, SD and SF, I began to realize two things: more of my friends could be doing this right now and that this is an opportunity to innovate on how we approach philanthropy. I’m talking about Philanthro, an all volunteer non-profit with a mission to connect young professionals through philanthropy. It’s a platform that is growing rapidly garnering support from others like you and me nation wide. It is attracting more charities that are efficiently and effectively supporting cancer patients, educational programs and medical research. This retreat demonstrated that this was not a matter of if, but when the rest of us decide to make an impact.

We, Seattle (P*SEA), have joined a family of amazing people with a diverse set of talents to bring our network of friends and peers closer together through volunteerism. It’s so exciting to be a part of this because it’s a vision that I believe we can fulfill. Not just as one instance of helping out in the community, but as a way we continue to live our lives. You’re right to think that Seattle is already a generous population, and even though that may be true, our contributions can go farther than that. As young professionals, we are connected to a large network of ambitious and driven individuals within our city. We even have networks that span other cities across the coast. It’s a chance to give direction and bring clarity where there wasn’t any. It’s a desire to apply our skills to solve problems that affect all of us. It’s P*SEA’s determination to make it real.

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