Welcome! Tonight we are here to celebrate Vitendo4Africa, both what has been accomplished and what will be accomplished. I love that all of the diversity in this room is a true representation of who Vitendo4Africa is.
Several years ago, I was introduced to Geoffrey. I was told that he was a Kenyan with a vision. As we sat in Starbucks, I heard about his vision for an organization called Vitendo4Africa. His desire to share what he had learned as an immigrant seemed unstoppable. Over the next few months, we continued to meet and discuss how to translate his passion into an organization. That was four years ago, and now I am here as the board chair of this incredible organization.
2017 has been a year of refinement and refocus as we have taken the time to pause and reflect on the work we have done and wanted to do. It has been a year of strategizing and reorganizing. As the initial phases of this organization are coming to an end, I’m proud to say our strategy of welcoming, connecting and empowering immigrants is working.
Here is what we have learned: We can maximize and extend our impact to serve more people through a well-developed volunteer and mentorship program. Secondly, we know what our children and youth need, so we will continue to serve them. Last, but not least, we have learned about many amazing organizations that are experts in a lot of things that we are not. They are providing services that immigrants can benefit from. We are taking advantage of these organizations and the services they provide, and connecting immigrants so that they can receive more assistance than we can provide directly.
This past year we:
- Hosted a health fair with over 300 attendees and over 22 vendors from local hospitals and service providers.
- Over 60 women received free mammogram and paps smear screening.
- This year we helped more than 100 clients prepare for citizenship, and so far 27 have received their citizenship. 83% are now registered as voters.
- On Fridays at the park, you can find over 100 kids and youth, and they accumulated close to 100 hours of exercise.
- We had various activities that build and maintain healthy relationships in the family such as a Daddy-daughter dinner, mother /son dinner, and bike events attracted more than 100 parents and kids, and they are feeling more connected than before.
- Our students have visited the St. Louis Science Center, Monsanto, Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis Zoo, Washington University and other places.
- The mentorship program started with less than ten students in January. Now we have more than 35 high school and college students, over 20 mentors. Additionally, they have completed an orientation and ten trainings this year.
Over the next year and hopefully years, we have the opportunity to continue what we are doing, growing and assisting more immigrants. Vitendo4Africa continues to survive through grants, donations, and countless hours from volunteers. Thank you and let’s do it again this year!
I would like to conclude with an old African Proverbs¦.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Let,s do this! Thank you for coming.
V4A Board Chair