MERCEDES (Co-founder, Hope for Haiyan): I am a founding member of Hope for Haiyan. I’m from Louisville KY, like a lot of our members. We started Hope for Haiyan back in November of 2013 [at 14]. Personally, I supported Hope for Haiyan because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to take on a cause that helped people who I felt a connection with. I had grown up hearing about the Philippines from my mom and her family, so I already identified that country as being a part of who I am. To know that I share a name, culture, and history with people halfway around the world is a stronger tie than you’d think. When I heard about the typhoon that struck in November of 2013, I never stopped to think that I might be too young to do anything. I didn’t really think about it at all, really. I just knew I wanted to help as many people as possible to recover from such a huge natural disaster. I think sometimes people get too tied up with how they’re going to make something happen, that they never do. There’s always a way, even if it isn’t perfect.
My Advice: It’s important to know exactly what your patrons’ donations will go towards. People want to know that they are actually going to make an impact on people’s lives, and it was something we struggled with in the very beginning.
Once we befriended a young woman, Elsa Thomasma — who survived Typhoon Haiyan and still lives in the Philippines — we had better communication flow. By supporting her efforts to rebuild Cangumbang, we have evidence of our impact from the pictures and updates she posts on her blog.
In addition to all our work in the Philippines, Hope For Haiyan also serves food in a local soup kitchen once a month, to give back to our local community as well as our global one. Being a member of an organization like ours will give you a sense of social responsibility as well as the knowledge that you can make an impact on the rest of the world.
CHECK OUT MERCEDES’ VIDEO “Fun Facts About the Philippines” featured on PeerSpring: http://bit.ly/H4H-PI
(2016 PeerSpring Interview)
BELLA (Co-founder, Hope for Haiyan): I attend South Oldham High School and there I am heavily involved in the art and drama departments. In Hope for Haiyan we are all very creative and we combine all of our ideas to create our organization. My involvement in the art and drama departments help me to contribute my own creativity to Hope for Haiyan. I joined Hope for Haiyan because I felt that the mission of our group was very doable and it sounded like a fantastic way to make a difference. I love my community and I do not know what I would do without it, I wanted to help restore that type of feeling for the community of Cangumbang.
My Advice: If I had to give advice to group starting off, I would say make sure you have members who are truly passionate about what you are serving or trying to accomplish. If you put the right minds together anything is possible. Our team has already raised enough money to support the feedings of children in the Cangumbang community for the past year and for all of 2016. All youth who join Hope for Haiyan gain many friendships and become very involved in their community due to all of the activities that we as a club participate in.
Alongside all of these accomplishments is hard work. One area within our organization that has been a bit of a struggle is the attendance of team members at meetings. We always have many people, but like with any organization, club or sport, attendance of all members is key, which can be difficult at times due to how involved our members are in the community. By having an annual fundraiser we pull our team together again. We have a strong group of youth and supporters who understand the importance of community and who are always willing to come back and serve.
I think one of the most unique and revolutionary qualities of our Hope for Haiyan team is that we are youth inspiring other youth to make a difference. Hope for Haiyan is a refreshing and inspiring way to serve both local and worldwide communities.
CHECK OUT BELLA’s VIDEO “Quick History of the Philippines”: http://bit.ly/H4H-PIHx
(2016 PeerSpring Interview)