We’re pleased to present “Unbound Unscripted,” a monthly video series introducing staff members at our HQ in Kansas City. The staffers all have unique stories of how they came to Unbound and what makes it so special to them. First up is Gene Komer, who for many is the voice of Unbound. Watch the video to hear Gene’s story of taking 732 phone calls on his first day as our receptionist!
Letter writing is an important part of the Unbound program. Letters connect sponsors with their sponsored friends, giving them a chance to learn about each other’s lives and offer encouragement.
But have you ever wondered about the journey your letter takes on its way to your sponsored friend? Watch this video, which illustrates the journey of a letter from a sponsor in the U.S. to her sponsored friend in the Philippines, to get a better idea of the effort and love that goes into delivering each letter.
Sponsored elder follows dream to go back to school
Cristina and her husband, Epifanio, in their home.
Whether it’s providing workshops for sponsored members and their families or encouraging children and youth to stay in school, education has always been a pillar of the Unbound program. And we know that each person has unique needs and abilities, so Unbound social workers work with sponsored members to find the education that’s the best fit, from taking formal classes during the week or opting for technical school or a training program.
With the assistance they receive from Unbound, individuals around the world are choosing to continue their education, and some are even able return to their studies after having to take a break. And Unbound doesn’t just limit the encouragement to children and youth. One of the best examples of this is sponsored elder Cristina from Guatemala. Cristina is 63 years old and has been a part of the Unbound program for more than four years.
Maria, 22, is a former sponsored member who now works as a social worker for Unbound while pursuing a nursing degree.
Children learn many things from their parents. Maria, 22, from Costa Rica, is going to school to become a nurse, has a job as a social worker with Unbound and is a former sponsored member and scholarship recipient through Unbound. She credits her parents, Francisco and Maria, with teaching her and her eight siblings many important lessons. One of the many values she and her brothers and sisters have learned from their parents’ example is the importance of hard work.
“We have always worked, since we were children,” Maria said. “Our parents instilled [work ethic] in us and taught us to recognize the value of things. By working, we learned to fight for what we wanted. In spite of the fact that we had to work, we had a very beautiful childhood.”
One of the ways we’ve been celebrating our 35th anniversary is by hearing from sponsored friends and staff around the world. We asked them how Unbound has changed them, what their favorite thing about being sponsored is or what greeting they have for us at this milestone. We’ve featured 35 snapshots of our global community over the past several weeks right here on the blog. Check out the final set of snapshots in the series below, and check out previous posts in the series here!
One of the ways we are celebrating our 35th anniversary coming up on Nov. 20 is by hearing from sponsored friends and staff around the world. We asked how Unbound has changed them, what their favorite thing about being sponsored is or what greeting they have for us at this milestone. We’re featuring 35 snapshots of our global community over the next several weeks leading up to Nov. 20, right here on the blog. Check out the second set of seven snapshots in the series, and stay tuned!
Mark De Young, a teacher at G.W. Carver Elementary School in Yuma, Arizona, created a philanthropy project for his students to work on so they can gain a broader global perspective.
During a Skype call with Unbound staff members Andrew Kling, Joe Sundermeyer, Melissa Velazquez and Barclay Martin, G.W. Carver Elementary School sixth-grader Anahy asks questions on behalf of her class.
Teachers serve an important role in society. Along with parents, they have the enormous task of preparing the next generation with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful adults. We celebrate these individuals today on World Teacher’s Day.
Mark De Young teaches sixth grade at G.W. Carver Elementary School in Yuma, Arizona. Mark has been teaching for 13 years, but in the past two years he’s introduced a philanthropic project for his students to help them gain a global perspective.
“Students also have the opportunity to use their skills [that they’ve learned in class] in a meaningful fashion,” Mark said. Through this project, they learned that there is a purpose to the persuasive writing skills that I taught them.”
For some Unbound families, there are more obstacles to receiving an education than just the cost. For 18-year-old Yami, it has been a struggle to complete her education because her family lives in a remote, mountainous village in El Salvador.
After finishing the 9th grade, Yami temporarily stopped attending school. The nearest high school is hours away, and the transportation cost and distance became too overwhelming for the family.
The trek to the highway is an hour walk or a 40-minute horseback ride. It goes along a deserted path and across a river. On top of all this, it’s not safe for Yami to travel alone, so her father, Jaime, accompanies her.
Gustavo Aybar, Unbound’s Sponsor Services communication manager, performed a poetry reading at booth #Unbound908 of a poem titled “Solo of Hope” by Pedro Mir. He read, “… La esperanza es la esperanza de reanudar la juventud del pueblo”, which means, “Hope is hope to renew the youth of the people.”
By Gustavo Adolfo Aybar, Sponsor Services communication manager
As we move closer to the observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, I think of how I strive to honor my history, my culture. As a native Dominican, having lived most of my life in the United States and in large Latino communities, I never gave much thought to the annual celebration of Hispanic heritage, since how every day I was fully aware and living among my people.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles, New York and Miami Beach, and though I’ve been in the Midwest for nearly a quarter of my life now, my lifelong personal mission remains to better educate myself about the history and the complexities of what it means to be from the Dominican Republic. Both my B.A. and M.A. degrees resulted from this strong desire to gain more knowledge about the European (Spanish), African and Taino bloodlines that make up Dominicans, and in most of my pursuits, I search for contributions from underrepresented voices.
Maria has been sponsored for five years and has a spirit of serving others — even when she’s not feeling well, she does her best to care for her community members as a midwife.
Maria is a calm and shy sponsored elder who loves to dance. She lives in El Salvador with her husband in an adobe home — surrounded by beautiful flowers and mango and avocado trees — with a dog, cat and even a few pet parrots. At age 80, she serves her community as a midwife and caretaker — a role she’s had for decades.
Maria joined the Unbound community in 2011, when she was sponsored by Gary from Missouri. The support from Unbound has been a great boost to her health and quality of life.