On November 8th, we held Givology’s 10th year celebration gala in Chelsea, NYC. Here’s the speech that I wrote for the event.
Thank you all so much for coming out tonight to celebrate 10 years of Givology. Truly, the students scholarships, library and computer lab renovations, teacher training, empowerment programs, among many more education projects that we’ve done over the last 10 years wouldn’t be possible with YOU our supporters and our volunteers. In particular, a special thank you to the NYC chapter and Meghan for all the hard work that went into this event.
As a program of events, Jenn and I will share with you some of our reflections before introducing Ruth Jeng, Founder of the Peach Foundation — in fact Givology’s first partner from back in 2008 — as our keynote speaker and guest of honor. After the presentation, we also have a slide deck to show you what happened to the initial cohort of Peach Foundation scholarship students who we supported.
When we started Givology 10 years ago, our vision was to create an online giving community that would support high-impact grassroots education projects around the world. We wanted to create a movement where small dollars and small hours of volunteering can aggregate into a powerful force of change. We believed that no matter if you were a big donor or small donor, everyone deserves transparency and honesty in how funds are being used. We also believed that time is just as valuable as money – that everyone has something to give, and in that process of giving back, the self discovery and compassion that emerges inspires others to act and give.
In looking back on the last 10 years, while we are proud that we have created a community of 50 partnerships in 30 countries, 20 chapters and over 200 volunteers, and mostly importantly, helped thousands of students through school projects and direct scholarships, we set ourselves higher goals for the next 10 years to come. We are driven because we feel the urgency of the need to act today in an increasingly less compassionate and more polarized world.
There are so many stories from our Givology network but I will share just one – in fact, a letter written from a Peach student Huang Wen Xue who we have supported through Givology. She writes:
“The challenges that we face in life will undoubtedly stick with us, but it shouldn’t be something that brings us down. I am the second girl, positive and full of sunshine. The challenges that I have faced has shaped me into who I am today.
I used to get sick a lot when I was young, and my parents had to use up a lot of money because of me. I even stayed at the hospital for two months, and even though I was only five at the time, I couldn’t help thinking that my parents could have just left me on the streets. But they didn’t, and for that I am very grateful. Soon after I recovered and went home to continue my education, my parents had to help my brother build a house as he was going to get married soon. But my brother got into an accident. His death put a lot of stress on my family, and as a result, my grandmother passed away too. At the time, the burial of two people cost a lot of money, so from then on, my family was in a lot of debt.
For a farmer’s household like ours, sons are very important, and due to my parent’s traditional ways of thinking, my younger brother was born. The financial burden grew heavier and heavier. My parents worked hard, and we worked hard on our studies. Our grandparents also helped. My sister is in high school now and I am currently in year 9. All that my parents can do is to continue to work hard. While our situation is much better today, the financial burden might get heavier in the future. But I shouldn’t think about quitting school. I endured all those hardships and survived, I will not give up.
The challenges of growing up might not be something that you want to experience, but it is actually not as scary as it seems, because only in times of difficulty can we better ourselves.”
The core belief of Givology is that every child deserves a quality education – that if we convince thousands of people to give $1 or 1 hour that we can can create a movement of change.The mission is very personal to all of us. My parents immigrated to the United States in hopes of giving me a better education and a better opportunity in life. They made a lot of sacrifices so that I could have the capacity to dream and do what I wanted to do, even when it meant that that they had to do a lot of things that they didn’t want to do.
Education is also very personal to you – think of a teacher who transformed the way you think, the networks that you have created through your schools, and the comfort of knowing that because of your good education, even if your job doesn’t work out, you have the capability to find another one with confidence. Imagine not having this.
More so today than ever, the work of Givology volunteers and our partner organizations becomes even more important. You may be sad or angry when you turn on the news these days. You may feel like no one cares. You may feel like nothing matters. But I am telling you that it does. We are a small organization but in you being here today, in you volunteering and donating here today, in you sharing our message and our organization mission, we will fight for students like Huang Wen Xue one at a time. A movement starts one step at a time. One student at time.