Before talking about our first volunteer connection in our new town, we’re excited to give an update on the girls’ fundraising efforts for a little girl in Peru. Back in September we talked about project No. 55 – A Wheelchair for Zoila. The girls set up a GoFundMe page, where many of you donated to raise a whooping $1175. Over the past few months the girls have also had lemonade stands, done yard work for people and come up with other small fundraisers to add to the total. Now that we’re settled in our new home and making some local connections, we’ve recently begun looking into a couple options for fundraising events to get us to this wheelchair goal for Zoila.
Then a couple weeks ago, an organization called Eleanore’s Project contacted us. Eleanore’s Project was established with the mission to help children with disabilities move, speak, learn and thrive. Founded by Tamara Kittelson-Aldred and Rick Aldred in memory of their daughter, the organization raises the funds to purchase equipment needed for children with disabilities, and then connects with local partners to ensure caregivers have the training and knowledge needed to effectively support the children’s needs. Most recently Eleanore’s Project has focused its efforts in Peru.
Through a string of fortuitous connections, Eleanore’s Project learned about the girls’ goal to get a wheelchair for Zoila and reached out to us. We’re now in conversations with contacts at Zoila’s orphanage and local experts in Cusco who provide equipment training to caregivers. Through this collaboration we’re getting very close to getting Zoila the new chair she so desperately needs. Plus, the orphanage will get training and resources that will improve the care provided to all of the children with limited mobility. This project is turning out to be more successful than the girls ever anticipated. We’ll have more to come on this as things develop. Hopefully Zoila will have her new chair very soon.
Now, as for our latest volunteer connection…. Just a few days after our move to our new hometown I had the opportunity to meet Deborah Hage, an energetic woman with a big heart. She leads a unique program bringing together area food banks, the local Elks Lodge and the Rotary Club of Summit County. Thanks to this partnership and Deborah’s tireless efforts, a free Community Dinner is held every Tuesday in Silverthorne, CO. It’s open to anyone who wants to attend and draws a big crowd every week.
The Community Dinner program has been going strong since 2009, and over the years has become a true community event. No financial need is required, so the dinner brings together people from all walks of life. Families, local business people, elected officials, young ski bums, and retirees alike all show up for some good food and good conversation.
The first time we volunteered the program served its 100,000 meal to a four year-old boy who was very excited to have everyone making a fuss over him and giving him a special dessert. This is definitely a volunteer program our family will stay connected to in the years to come – and it’s NOT just because of the free food!