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Breakout Session: Stand Up for Opportunity

By Allison Altdoerffer

I sat down to listen to a panel of Opportunity International volunteers and contributors to hear their thoughts and best practices on how they share and involve their own communities in Opportunity’s mission. Each panel member shared their own journey with Opportunity and how they came to be involved. Though unified in passion, each contributor’s work was unique to fit their own talents, interests and goals.

Dick Leathers, member of the Board of Governors, shared how he educates church members in Houston, where frequently the reaction is “Wow, I didn’t know about that. That’s pretty cool.” Leathers said that he describes Opportunity to friends and family as a “hand up, not a hand out.”

Breakout session panel (from left): Dick Leathers, Monica Perez, Betsy Perdue, Amelia Gingold and Sonya Perez-Lauterbach.Monica Perez, Denver chapter co-chair, Young Ambassadors for Opportunity, shared the story of the YAO Denver grew from two passionate leaders to a network of nearly 120 volunteers. Perez noted that the chapter doesn’t limit its time together to just planning meetings, but they also plan happy hours and weekend retreats to bond and create fun memories.

Betsy Perdue, board member, Women’s Opportunity Network (WON), emphasizes the feasible and tangible ways to make an impact. She shared her own outreach, as well as how her young daughter created a party and fundraising plan to benefit Opportunity, and how a group of 80 second-graders collected pennies into homemade piggy banks to fund three microloans.

Amelia Gingold, communication relations for Sunshine Sachs & Associates, closed the panel with advice on how to share your passion with others. Gingold noted that contributing to Opportunity isn’t limited to fundraising, but can be as small as taking a few minutes during dinner or a book club to share your passion, and show pictures from your Opportunity Insight Trips. She advised the audience to “think about what makes your heart happy, and put that into a sentence,” and to use that as the foundation to mold your volunteer and outreach initiatives.

Overall, the panel reiterated that getting involved and volunteering should be fun, and shaped by the interests and talents of the individual. There’s no limit in how to make an impact through Opportunity International. As Sonya Perez-Lauterbach, the manager of Young Ambassadors for Opportunity, said at the beginning of the session, “If it ain’t fun, it’s hard to get done.”

This post was written by Allison Altdoerffer. Allison is a public relations professional and a member of the YAO – San Francisco chapter.

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