I'm writing to you from my sunny dining room in a new house that doesn't quite feel like home. We've been unpacking boxes and shifting furniture around to fit into downsized rooms, as well as troubleshooting the quirky breakdowns that come with an old house. During this process, several people mentioned - almost in passing: "Did you know that moving is one of the top life stresses?" I hadn't moved in so long that I had forgotten this fact, but it is true. Moving is also very distracting, and it's been a challenge to keep my head and heart focused on the things that matter most, one of them Rising Village. I am grateful to our U.S. Director, Jennifer, who has stepped in and taken over during the times when I needed to be with my family. We are somewhat settled for the first time in 14 months and I'm taking a deep breath. It feels good.
Rising Village in the U.S. also went through many transitions during 2016. We hired our first staff person, moved all of our operations out of my home and into a charming old building on 11th Street in Tulsa, and began running a retail shop out of this space to sell handmade products from our apprentices, basket weavers, and other global artisans. Taking an organization to a new level is a bit like skydiving - you have to jump out of your comfortable seat in order to soar. It's both frightening and exhilarating and I feel both a hundred times a day, often at the same time.
If 2016 was the year of transitions - the year we jumped out of our comfortable seat, 2017 will be the year that we soar higher. There is so much to be done in Ghana and in our community in Tulsa. The needs are great but the opportunities to meet those needs have never been more present. People like you and me are looking for ways to bring some light and love not only to people in faraway places, but those with needs our own communities. We're looking to expand our work here in the U.S., as well as in Ghana. Every day, I'm more certain that I want to spend my energies moving in positive directions, reaching out to people in the margins who feel forgotten and frightened, and bringing others along with me to be a positive force for good in the world. We all want this, even though we often get distracted with things that matter much less.
This is your invitation to join in and be bold for change. Because I believe in clear communication and step processes, here are three ways you can join with us to make a positive difference right now, where you are:
1. Commit to partner with us by giving a monthly gift. It's easy to sign up, and it's so important to the long-term mission of our organization. We can't fund the work we do without assurance that funds will be available. How is this bold? Because we all work hard for our money, and turning over a portion of it each month is a commitment. But we will also make the commitment to use your funds responsibly as we expand opportunities for children and women in Ghana. Sign up for partnership here.
2. Visit our shop at 1404 E. 11th Street if you live near Tulsa, or shop online. Every item you purchase is handmade, fair trade, and all purchases make a difference for artisans and apprentices who need sustainable income. Can shopping make a difference? It might be easier and more convenient to pick up that birthday gift at the box store near your house, but if you choose to shop a different way - to buy products from artisans and organizations who benefit directly - your purchases do make a difference.
3. Donate to the Senior High Scholarship fund.We have an Education program in Ghana for orphaned children who live in kinship care. We want these children, who live in the margins, to graduate high school. Four of our students are already in high school, but in Ghana the cost of high school is significantly more than the fees for primary and junior high. Although each of our students is sponsored, the cost of high school is more than most sponsors can afford, so we have set up a scholarship fund to help offset the costs of sending these young men and women to high school.
Let's feel positive about 2017 together as we find ways to make the world a more beautiful place for the people around us, and for those in faraway places.