Board Update and Recruitment

Board Update and Recruitment

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.

2021 Uniting Distant Stars Leadership Team

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.

yakasah-wehyee

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).

Meet Volunteer, Mckenna Schmidt!

Meet Volunteer, Mckenna Schmidt!

Volunteers near and far help Uniting Distant Stars stay on course in serving children and youth in Liberia. Mckenna Schmidt is one of those amazing volunteers who joined our team in April as an editor and writer. She was highly recommended by our board member, Anna Bertch. She is interested in helping write content to update our website and use her talents to help our youth in Liberia wherever else she can.

Mckenna started her senior year at Wayzata High School and is eager to pursue college after graduation. Here is her bio on why she joined UDS and her hopes for the future:

When I first found out about Uniting Distant Stars, I was not only inspired by their dedication to their mission and their amazing vocational training program but also how much they care about not only giving Liberian youth a voice but all youth. I now help edit and write newsletters put out by UDS, and I hope to one day pursue a career as a lawyer. I love that UDS gives me the opportunity to be involved in supporting these Liberian youth while using my skills and talents.

We are grateful for Mckenna’s dedication and support as a volunteer. Thank you so much, Mckenna, for your great work!

Meet our Web Designer, Rachel Smith

Meet our Web Designer, Rachel Smith

Like any non-profit organization, we benefit from the talent and hard work of our dedicated volunteers. Rachel Smith is one of our fabulous volunteers!

It was during our first Ten Thousand Villages Shopping Event in May 2016 that Rachel became interested in our organization. She had recently graduated from Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC) in UX Design.

She was interested in redesigning our website using WordPress. Our original website was a transformed blog on Blogger so this would require not only a new look but transferring data from one platform to another.

Together, we spent a lot of time going over layout and content. She worked tirelessly in designing the site and bringing over the content from the old one. The new website launched in June 2017, and it was a welcomed improvement.

Rachel continues to help with maintenance, troubleshooting, and new development. We are truly grateful for her creative talents in designing and maintaining our website! Our heartfelt Thanks, Rachel!

Benefits of Volunteering

Benefits of Volunteering

Written by Sonal Suri, UDS Volunteer Bookkeeper
I live in Denver, Colorado and have a degree in Accounting from the University of Mumbai in India. I am a mother of two children. My eldest is a freshman in college, and my youngest is a freshman in high school. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking and socializing with my friends and family. I applied for a volunteering Position as a bookkeeper at UDS through volunteermatch.org. Within a week, I spoke with Heather to talk about my background and she explained the UDS cause. This volunteer opportunity is a great experience for me to learn how to work in a nonprofit organization that operates in two countries.

In March 2017, I started Volunteering at UDS. I recorded and posted entries, generated Profit & Loss statements, prepared balance sheets, and created budgets and reconciled the accounts.  I was also exposed to areas of Accounting that were new to me and gave me confidence in my abilities. Due to Heather’s patient guidance and mentorship, I landed a position in Accounting in a prestigious business services company in December 2017. It is an honor for me to contribute and support the cause between both countries.

The Joy of Training Youth to Succeed

The Joy of Training Youth to Succeed

As the clock ticks closer to the first vocational training classes at our training center, our Team Liberia is working fervently to finalize preparations! Our team is ecstatic to show you, our dedicated Star Supporter, their passion and resolve in helping to equip young Liberians with the skills they need to be self-sufficient. You are giving them the drive to ensure everything is set for the opening day on February 1st. 
 
Since the last post “Small Steps Lead to Big Goals“, our team continues to:
  1. Prepare the training center for the classes.
  2. Purchase the “Tools to Success” (i.e. computers)
  3. Hold a student orientation, and 
  4. Share our story on Radio Advent’s talk show 
Training Center Preparations: Our extremely talented volunteers have fixed the remaining two toilets (there are four bathrooms) and built removable partitions in our great hall for the individual classes. Our training center is hooked up to the city water supply, and work is needed to connect to the pipes in the building. Sanitation and conducive learning environments are critical for our students.
 
One of two new commodes replaced to ensure all four bathrooms are working.
Daude, who is a young volunteer, with skills in carpentry and masonry.

 

Daude built the removable partitions in our great hall.
Tools for Success: Our team started purchasing the equipment and materials that students will use for their practical training. Our computer training program draws the most students. This is why seven used desktops were purchased this week to increase our total to 16! Our goal is 20, if we can find a vendor who has available computers. Also, another essential item was purchased: a printer! Some of our courses will require worksheets as part of the learning tools. 
 
Your generosity purchased these desktops being installed in our computer lab.

 

UDS Co-Founder & Country Director, Kelvin Fomba, helping volunteers with the installation.
Thank you for this much needed printer!


Student Orientation: Friday, January 27th, About 50 young men and women attended an orientation session at our training center. They were introduced to their instructors, toured the facility, received information on program rules and code of conduct, were provided the schedule, and much more. Currently, about 40 students have registered for our 8 coursesElectricity, Auto Mechanics, Plumbing, Computers, Interior Design, Cosmetology, Hotel Management and Catering. While there is interest for our two other courses: sewing and masonry, students have not paid their registration fee yet.

 
Kelvn Fomba welcoming young Liberian to our student orientation.

 

Our instructors introduce themselves to the students, Kelvin will be training the auto mechanics.

 

Computer students meet their instructor and learn about the expectation for this course.
Talk Show: Also, on January 27, Kelvin Fomba (UDS Co-Founder & Country Director), Godfrey Solomon (Hossana Children’s Foundation Co-Founder & UDS Volunteer), and Patrick Junusa, Jr. (UDS Volunteer) participated on Radio Advent’s talk show. One of the broadcasters of this station, Thomas Jefferson, expressed an interest in partnering with UDS. He and others are interested in participating in our training classes to learn a skill while offering us free time on the airwaves to share our services. This radio station is walking distance from our center so this a perfect relationship!
 
Kelvin on the left and Godfrey on the right.
Patrick on the left and Kelvin on the right.
The Joy of Training Youth to Succeed was made possible by your compassion and selflessness! There is not enough ways for us to express our heartfelt appreciation and thanks for your continued to support in making Young Stars in Liberia shine brighter. 
 
Highlights from 2016 Christmas Celebration

Highlights from 2016 Christmas Celebration

In celebrating our successes, we are celebrating YOU, our highly valued Star Supporters! Uniting Distant Stars held our first-ever Christmas Celebration at our new training center for over 350 children and youth on December 26. 
 
The event ran from noon to 7PM (GMT) and it was a fun-filled day. The children performed skits, cultural dances, sang favorite songsand shared funny stories. They were served a nourishing meal of Jollof Rice (Liberian favorite), Potato Salad and Chicken. They participated in a raffle draw for three prizes: 1st – Bag of Rice, 2nd – Package of Breakfast Food such as Quaker Oats, and 3rd – Backpack (made by our youth) filled with school Supplies.  
 
Our team of dedicated volunteers worked around the clock in preparing the food and activities for this highly appreciated event. A heartfelt Thanks to AB, Blessing, Deborah, Godfrey, Ishmail, Korlu, Korpu, Ma Siah, Mamie, Princess, Roseline, Saah, Umaru and all volunteers who made this celebration a joyous occasion!
 
Please take a moment and watch this short video showing the photos of our children and youth celebrating YOU!

 

 

Thank you for making 2016 our best year!!! 

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