My Volunteer Trip, bringing hope

What you are contributing to: 

My best friend, a basketball coach at Yale, has started a non-profit organization called "Play BOLD ." It gives female collegiate athletes, across all universities, the opportunity to go on volunteer missions together in underprivileged parts of the world that are in dire need of a little help.   (I am so acutely proud of and inspired by her.) 

I see this as opportunity for the upcoming generation to realize their power to affect change before they graduate into the rest of their lives.  I don’t believe scholastic and athletic education is enough. I don’t think it’s been enough for some time now. We can look to the entities that surround us to change established standards, or, we can change them ourselves.  That’s what my best friend is doing; singlehandedly creating a portal for students to regain a sense of power and community in a world that really needs our help.  It gives these college students a chance to be leaders; it gives the children they volunteer with a sense of possibility and hope and older kids to look up to. I call this win-win. I think we all have to be reminded sometimes how far of kindness, courage, and a little bit of effort can go.  

This year's trip we will be flying into Guatemala (coaches, board members, students). The organization we will be partnering and working with there is called Sepal ( ). We will be bringing sports equipment donated from various universities and working on various building projects to help improve recreation centers (putting up basketball hoops, fixing up courts, teaching kids how to play and playing with them!) It will be a blast! (I will be the worst basketball player, definitely ha). That said, the volunteer activities aren't just limited to sports.  We will be helping build a water filtration system while volunteering with a children's AIDs orphanage. While "playing" is something these kids probably need, more than a lot of things, we're also, at the risk of sounding cliche, just bringing love... sitting with these kids, reading, teaching, listening, learning...  

These funds will go to travel expenses, housing, food, and some arts and crafts stuff and equipment for these organizations. 

Why I'm doing this, personally:

Starting a business has been an inspiring, challenging, awakening experience. Suddenly you realize your ability to affect change, to create something from nothing, if you are willing to believe in it, and keep believing it (this latter part is harder). Alongside an incredible business partner, an incredibly talented programmer and security team, advisors, coworkers, partners, family and friends (that I nearly feel I owe my life and sanity to), it's happening... we are doing it...

I almost hate to leave Mike (correction, I hate to leave Mike) as this vision becomes real, as demand is high, (thankfully, Mike is a bad ass, so he'll be fine). That said, I'm leaving for 1.5 weeks anyway. As important as it may be to work one's ass off in a start up, for me it is actually equally, if not more important to perpetually reconnect to what motivated me in the first place and what gives me the fuel to keep going everyday…

I want to help people. I want to solve problems. I want to make the world a better place. It's simple and maybe ambiguous or naive sounding, but it's what I want... I never want to be so distracted by the business that I lose touch with the people, the hope, the f****** point... 

Recently, I've spent (and I am not complaining here, just acknowledging) days/months thinking about pricing, revenue models, business, survival, product value, user-interface, design, features, customers, lawyers, contracts, organizational structure, agreements, more words and things and words.   I don't want to... I promise myself not to... ever lose touch with why I'm in this in the first place, which is: I hope, one day, I can be in a position to bring more hope to those who need it most. (I’m tearing now typing this… I’m on a plane from Chicago to NY right now. We just had a great trip, great meetings… I'm overwhelmed by the thought, the possibility of it, of one day, really being able to affect change, to be in a position to help people and alleviate some of the ugliness in this world… that’s my dream, that’s always been my dream… eeph. Holding back.  Don't want to keep tearing at my ipad next to Mikey…) 

And so, for my 31st birthday, (August 1st) I am going to volunteer with Play BOLD; the non-profit Melissa D'Amico has pulled out of her heart and mind and into reality. And, I want to go on this trip, because I want to help her. I want to learn the "business" of non-profits, of helping... 

As start up co-founders Mike and I have yet to pay ourselves in the past two years of this pursuit, but, regardless, I’m asking for help because this gofundme is a promise I make to you, to anyone who contributes, and to myself, to go somewhere and bring the most valuable thing I think any of us can give: hope. I think hope is the most powerful, valuable and renewable resource there is in this world... 

If you can, I'm asking you to help me bring hope somewhere. 

Thank you. Thanks for reading. Thanks for everything.
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Veronica Owens 
Huntington, NY