Help 109 survive the COVID-19 crisis

The Backstory

109 is a mission driven non-profit that was founded 5 years ago, and this is the first time we are reaching out publicly for help. We have created incredible impact around the world since our inception and to continue operating, we are setting our ego’s aside, exposing our vulnerabilities, and humbling asking for support. Thank you for your time, consideration, and above all else, your kindness in these tough times.   

Coronavirus is not the world's first pandemic, but it's the first of this scale in our lifetimes. It's not often that we are aware we're in a historical moment as it's happening, but this is one of those times — and the story is still being written.

None of us knows how this will end and it's impossible to predict when it will feel "over." The impacts are being felt worldwide by countries, cities, organizations, and individuals everywhere. 

And that’s why I created this fundraising page #SmallBusinessRelief for my nonprofit 109 World. If you have never heard about 109, we dedicate our lives to hosting experiences for people to join us in service to transform themselves and the world around them. On every 109 experience we partner with local grassroots organizations who are positively impacting their communities and environments. Volunteering with them gives us the opportunity to put our hands in the soil, break bread together, and truly gain perspective and clarity of our place in the world. Mahatma Gandhi described travel as ‘The Language of Peace.’ To experience different realities fosters compassion, awareness and understanding of one another and yourself. At 109 we deeply believe that travel, if designed with intention and in collaboration with the local community, can be a powerful force for good.

109 in Marrakech in support of girls education

109 in Puerto Rico in support of victims of Hurricane Maria

109 in Mexico in support of sea turtle protection

So after 5 years we have supported over 400 alumni in adopting more sustainable and mindful ways of living, and offered them the opportunity to give back to this beautiful world in a variety of ways from volunteering with clean drinking water projects, women and girls right to education, animal welfare, refugee crisis, food security and disaster relief. We have partnered with over a dozen incredible local grassroots organizations impacting their local communities and environments across 11 countries. 

In these trying times, we now find ourselves close to bankruptcy, with only 1 more month of survival left. We have been forced to cancel the few services our nonprofit needs to lower our monthly costs so, maybe, we can weather this storm. But the reality is, we can’t do this without your help. 109 exists to help other nonprofits and grassroots organizations (both financially and in-person volunteering) around the world while helping transform the lives of our participants. And now, for the first time, we are realizing that as a small nonprofit ourselves, we need to be asking our community for support. Without your help, we’ll need to close the doors on this dream of 109. Any support you may be able to offer will move mountains in terms of the impact we have created and hope to continue to create in the world.

Who will this fundraiser help?

Who is writing this text and creating this fundraiser is me, Leticia, Co-founder & Executive Director of 109 World. I have been managing 109 and finding ways to continue adding value to our incredible community and local partners around the world for the past 5 years. 

I have two co-founders and I will be forever grateful for them and their dedication to 109 from the very start. As happens with so many of us though, in 2017, they transitioned their careers and I found myself leading the organization solo. Going from a 3 to a 1 person team really hindered the organization and led to some really challenging times. I thought that was the end for 109. I didn’t pay myself a salary for over a year, put my personal savings into the organization, led several events by myself, worked countless hours and slept so few. Eventually I burnt out. Went to the hospital twice with abdominal pain that nobody knew what it was. Later it was “labelled” stress by a doctor who said something that stuck with me: “Leticia, you are the only one that knows how to make this pain go away.” And he was right, I knew I needed to ask for help. That’s when I decided to hire a partner-in-crime. 

Early 2018, with no money and recovering from a really difficult year, I hired Savannah Carlson. If you know 109, you know how bright of a light Savannah is. From day 1 she has always given 109% of herself to the organization. I have never seen anything like that - I knew I needed help but I didn’t fully realize how helpful someone could be until I met her.

Working tirelessly together, in a little over a year we curated and hosted seven mindfulness and volunteer retreats, supported over 185 alumni and five incredible grassroots organizations. We built the biggest sea turtle sanctuary in Mexico; raised funds for an orphanage in Thailand; funded, built and installed rainwater harvesting systems after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico; transformed a little cafe in Marrakech into a school for the local community (for boys AND girls); and raised funds to ensure girls were educated on their rights. We of course went through many challenges during this period, but we persisted. This time is and feels different. The Coronavirus has halted all international travel and made it impossible for us to host our mindfulness and volunteer retreats — which has been the heart of our model and theory of change. In these uncertain times the only thing we are certain of is that we will no longer be able to run 109 without your help. Hence this GoFundMe Page. #SmallBusinessRelief

The Costs

Savannah and I are the only paid and full-time employees at 109. Our salaries are US$2,500 per month and our other monthly bills total US$2,339 (Google, Mad Mimi, PayPal, Wp Engine, QuickBooks, Classy Donor Management, Gusto, Brian Frank Accounting, Htmlsig, Cloudfare, Canva and Facebook/Instagram Ads ). Our total monthly costs are US$7,339. Starting April 15th we won’t have the funds to cover any of our bills anymore nor to pay ourselves any salary.

So if you are in a position of helping, we humbly ask you to donate to this fundraiser. All donations are tax-deductible and 100% of the money raised will go to our monthly costs and to give us space to breathe and rethink how 109 can become a stronger and more innovative organization that can continue to create impact and add value to our community for years to come. We know we will need to pivot quickly in order to respond to our calling and we are so appreciative for any help or support you may be able to offer.

How You Can Help 

We are going through this together, day by day, doing our best to make a positive impact on society at a moment in time when there are no easy solutions.

For 109 we are already having our lives affected by the coronavirus and being harmed by our country's very necessary efforts to stop its spread. Without help our work will be lost, if we need to close to wait for this storm to pass we may struggle to reopen into what could be a very unstable economy.

My heart hurts when imagining what might be. But I also have hope.

I hope that this uncertain time brings us together by showing us how connected we are, and how much we depend on one another.

And now more than ever 109 depends on you, on your kindness and generosity. If you can donate, please kindly consider supporting this fundraiser. If you can’t help financially, please help us get the word out by sharing the link to our GoFundMe Page on Facebook, Instagram, your newsletter, via email and or any other platform that speaks to you!

And please take care of yourselves and your community. We need each other.

Thank you for letting me be vulnerable.

From the bottom of my heart,


  • Orit Jenkins 
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 10 mos
  • Alexia Pairot 
    • $30 
    • 10 mos
  • Meghan Gillespie 
    • $30 
    • 10 mos
  • Casey Widmann 
    • $20 
    • 12 mos
See all


Letícia Gonzalez-Reyes 
Boulder, CO
109 World Inc. 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
Learn more
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more