One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is receiving direct feedback from a student. On January 10, 2021, I (Heather Cannon) chatted with Kadiatu M. Swarray on Messenger, and then she called me to share more about her experience at our Vocational Training Center. She started her Cosmetology training in September 2020 and wanted to share her experience below in how you transformed her life.
Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) is a vocational training center that makes you focused and serious. You can’t make it if you are a lazy student. I come to school three times a week. Also, I am a graduate (November 25, 2020) of the African Methodist Episcopal University with a Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA). Since graduation, I have never earned any money on my own. But by being at UDS for 4 months this gone December, I now have earned more than $50 to $60 USD.
Kadiatu’s reply to my question about what she likes about Uniting Distant Stars.
So, UDS is a self-employment area but it can only happen if you are determined. I never in one day knew how to braid hair. But now with the help of UDS, I am learning little by little. My instructor Emmanuel said, “you are your own internship”. He explained that if we find our own clients we can apply our skills as part of our training. He teaches something new every class time, so you want to show up and learn.
Kadiatu’s conversion with me on the phone.
How did you find UDS? “My grandma owns a cook shop and would come to sell food to students at the center. From what she saw, she kept telling me to go to this school and learn computers. I said to my grandma not now because I can focus only on one thing at a time. I can go after graduating from college. So, when I completed my degree last year I enrolled in the Cosmetology Course.”
Kadiatu responding to my follow-up question.
Without a doubt, your investment in students like, Kadiatu, provides the means for self-sufficiency and leadership. In December, she became the student president of her 2020/2021 class and also for her course. Thank you for being her Classroom Hero!
As a generous donor for Liberian Youth, we value your commitment to changing their lives for the better. That is why we will have your 2020 Giving Statement delivered to your email or mailbox on or before 1/31/2021. This gives you the opportunity to file your taxes early. Thank you for including Uniting Distant Stars in your charitable giving!
Thank you for being a guiding light during this most challenging year! You stepped up when we needed you to provide COVID-19 handwashing kits to Liberian Children and Youth. Again, you showed up to help 62 students receive their diplomas in August. Your continued commitment made all the difference with your students and graduates.
You generously raised $22,904 for Liberian Children and Youth during a challenging year. This includes the $3,857 from the year-end campaign from November to December. Here is the breakdown:
68% from businesses and individuals
27% from employer matches and contributions from United Way campaigns. Fortunately, two companies increased their matches from 1:1 to 2:1 due to COVID.
5% from in-kind donations.
Uniting Distant Stars allocated$19,642 to the following programs:
Both vocational and academy students (410 total) received COVID handwashing kits in May. You raised $3,072 (16%) to cover the costs of powdered handsoap and bleach.
62 graduates received their diplomas on August 1 with your help of $1000 (5%).
A graduate made about 500 masks to welcome students back from a $500 (3%) employer match donation.
Three people sponsored 11 vocational training students with half or full scholarships for $960 (5%).
Three sponsors supporting 14 academic students with full scholarships for the 2020-2021 school year at $3,905 (20%).
Two classes (2019-20 and 2021-21) received learning materials to apply their skills in their respective courses at $6,115 (31%). Due to COVID, we suspended classes from March to September.
One-year rent at $1,700 (9%)for our training center in Liberia. The five-year lease ended in May 2020.
Staff development valued at $1,120 with in-kind service (6%).
Adminstrative costs at $1,270 (7%).
Furthermore, current assets are $10,787.80 which 65% is allocated for 2020/2021 learning materials & supplies, 18% for next year’s rent and administrative needs, and 8% vocational student scholarship fund (one donor) for the 2021/2022 class. The remaining 9% is the reserve fund. If you like to compare with 2019, click on this link.
Our heartfelt gratitude for ensuring your students continue to receive the education they deserve!
Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed your holidays and celebrated surviving a challenging year. What do you hope for in 2021 besides some sense of normalcy?
Our hope for 2021 is to transform more of our training departments into social businesses to provide additional revenue and create jobs for our graduates. As we continue to train and graduate students, more young people are led to our center to enroll. Thus the demand is high for vocational training because Liberian Youth sees it as the means for self-sufficiency.
In order to make this possible, we need to find interested partners and sponsors to help with the planning and raising the capital to buy the needed materials to make a viable business. If you know anyone interested in such a quest, please have them contact us at [email protected] We appreciate any leads!
On December 5, 20202, we held our annual board meeting and elected the new officers. We excited to announce our new board chair Adam Pederson and new secretary Rita Apaloo. Also, Diane Anastos will continue her role as treasurer for the fifth year and Beyan Gonowolo will remain the fundraising team chair. Please click on their names to read their bios.
Additionally, we want to give a special Thank You to Philip Kaleewoun who served as Board Chair for three consecutive years. He guided Uniting Distant Stars in developing their first strategic plan in 2018. And helped ensure we executed some of its goals such as installing solar panels. He will remain on the board as a member.
Furthermore, we want to extend our heartfelt Thanks to Yakasah Wehyee who resigned from the board. He will focus on completing his doctorate program. He served for about a year and a half and greatly helped with writing project concepts. So, we wish him all the best as he peruses his Ph.D.
Recruiting Two Board Members
As we move into 2021, we are seeking two new board members. If you or someone you know is interested in helping us reach more of our goals, please review or share our posting (click here).
We hope you are feeling fabulous today! The season of giving continues tomorrow with Giving Tuesday. Without a doubt, 2020 brought on new challenges for everyone. Yet, you continue to celebrate the successes of your August 1 graduates and welcomed your fourth cohort of students on September 22.
Through your generous support, young men and women show up to each class to practice their skills. Also, this real experience allows them to start earning income in a matter of weeks or months depending on the course. With you as their Classroom Hero, you guide them to the finish line, graduation.
For this reason, we hope you will join Uniting Distant Stars for Giving Tuesday. In continuation of the Give to the Max Day, we like to reach our goal of $5,000. Only $2,730 remains to reach it. Please donate at least $10 to help Liberian Youth learn valuable trade skills. Thank you for including Uniting Distant Stars in your charitable giving!