2013 has been an inspiring year. In this blog series, the 12 Days of Opportunity, we are celebrating the accomplishments made possible by our caring and generous community of partners and supporters. Because of you, our clients are working their way out of poverty, strengthening their families and building vibrant communities in 22 countries around the world.
This fall, Young Ambassadors for Opportunity around the country gathered their friends and networks to celebrate the transformational work of Opportunity International. We held three galas -- Nights for Opportunity that raised awareness and support for Opportunity's clients working their way out of poverty around the world. We are excited to share perspectives on a couple of these events from Young Ambassadors Brock Jenkins from Chicago and Rachel Colson from San Francisco.
San Francisco Gala
Written by Rachel Colson, YAO-SF
I was clacking away on my keyboard at work when my coworker came by my desk, selling four-packs of tickets for an event that evening. Gala, microloans, good cause, great wine--was all I heard, and that night I found myself at a gala hosted by Young Ambassadors of Opportunity in San Francisco. The event was a blast, and I was intrigued by the idea behind Opportunity International. I had never heard of the organization before but I was eager to learn more. “Microfinance? What’s that?” I was completely unfamiliar with the term. That was in November 2012. By January 2013, I was attending to monthly meetings to plan the gala and other events.
This year, our gala planning efforts paid off. With OI’s matching program, we raised an unprecedented $17,000 and had record attendance. I was thrilled with the outcome and I’m even more excited to see what YAO SF can accomplish in 2014.
I was drawn to YAO SF because of the passion of its members. Everyone in the organization was driven by the cause--a cause that promotes self-sustainability, encourages entrepreneurism, and has a proven track record. I was excited to get involved with an organization that is truly making a difference.
Not everyone is familiar with microfinancing, but YAO is working to change that by raising awareness and recruiting ambassadors. And, with any luck, a question like, “Microfinance? What’s that?” may be the beginning of a conversation that lasts through the next gala. - Rachel Colson, YAO-SF
Written by Brock Jenkins, YAO-Chicago
The event was an easy sell: come enjoy a great night of fun with friends at one of the newest venues in Chicago while learning more about microfinance, Opportunity International, and Young Ambassadors for Opportunity. Judging by the smiles of the attendees, crowded dance floor, and raucous applause following the keynote presentation, everyone at the Underground in Chicago thoroughly enjoyed a Night for Opportunity.
As guests entered the event, they were immediately met by the chic-lounge atmosphere, complete with cocktails, good food, and giant LED boards depicting Opportunity International’s impact as photos of proud entrepreneurs splashed across the venue. Moving throughout the room, guests were able to learn more about microfinance, Opportunity International, and YAO as fact boards told the stories of triumph among the entrepreneurs who receive loans from Opportunity and detailed the impact that a simple donation of $12 per month can make a huge impact in the lives and communities of the entrepreneurs Opportunity International helps every day.
Further highlighting the event was the silent auction, complete with over 30 items worth over $6,000. Without a doubt, the items were the talk of the event as bidders crowded around the auction items, anxiously trying to win items such as a boutique women’s blazer, great Cubs tickets, and many other great items that were donated through the hard work of YAO members.
The night would not be complete without a final moving presentation depicting the true impact of the money raised at the event. As Rohit Dhake, the event’s lead organizer, took the stage, thanked the guests, the video boards played the I am Impossible to Stop video, giving all those in attendance a true glimpse of how Opportunity International empowers individuals, families and communities through micro-loans and other microfinance products. As the evening wrapped up, we all felt empowered to continue the great work of Opportunity International.