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Chicago, IL 60607

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© 2016 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Oak Park and River Forest Supporters Gather to Celebrate a Rich Giving History

By Sonja Egeland Kelly

Last week, a group of Opportunity supporters met together in Maryellen and Jim Betke’s home in Oak Park, Ill. Their common denominator? They are all champions of Opportunity’s microfinance work who live in Oak Park and River Forest, Ill.

Over the past 12 months, 80 Opportunity supporters in the Oak Park-River Forest area have raised almost $200,000 together. Motivated by their compassion for those living in poverty, the same group has raised a total of a half million dollars in the past four to five years.

The evening of stories and conversation was both a celebration of what the group had accomplished together and a promise of things to come. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and lemonade on the warm summer evening, participated in a silent auction, and gathered in the Betkes’ living room to hear from Michael Okleme, an Opportunity staff member who had worked as a loan officer in Ghana before coming to the US.

“When I was a loan officer and then a supervisor with Opportunity Ghana, I wore many hats,” explained Michael. “Our clients depend on loan officers for many things: they settle domestic disputes, dispense business advice, become a spiritual mentor, and more. Loan officers truly care for Opportunity’s clients.”

Michael enjoyed questions from guests throughout the evening, answering from his own experience on topics like competitive advantage, loan sharks, and the importance of savings and credit scoring.

Opportunity supporters enjoy a lively question and answer session with Michael Okleme.

Opportunity supporters enjoy a lively question-and-answer session with Michael Okleme.

“My heart is continually warmed by people’s interest in Opportunity’s mission,” said Sarah Tesch, manager of Opportunity Partners. “This event was particularly inspiring as guests asked thoughtful questions and a few discussed their life-changing experiences during their travels to visit our clients. We have the privilege of engaging with amazing people at both ends of our work–both our supporters here and our staff and clients in the developing world. It was a treat to share an evening with the Oak Park-River Forest group.”

The evening was a definite success, motivating us to continue to care about the under-resourced entrepreneurs around the world. To be connected with an Opportunity gathering near you, contact Sarah Tesch at stesch@opportunity.org or Michael Okleme at mokleme@opportunity.org.

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