Any volunteers? StudioNorth team members pitch in locally and globally.

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JANUARY 2016

Everyone talks about “giving back.” At StudioNorth, we like to give back the way we do everything else—creatively.

Toward the end of 2015, our team members found fun, engaging ways to help make the world a better place, both locally and in far-flung corners of the globe. Here are three of our stories.

BOOSTING KIDS’ LITERACY AT BERNIE’S BOOK BANK

In 2015, StudioNorth initiated its “Three to Volunteer” program —a.k.a. “32V”—giving each team member up to three paid days off each year to volunteer for a worthwhile cause.

On December 23, Kyra Chambliss and Melissa Machay volunteered at Bernie’s Book Bank, a local non-profit that collects and redistributes new and gently used books to at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland.

Bernie's Book BankIn 2015, Bernie’s Book Bank distributed more than 2 million books to more than 100,000 at-risk kids.

Kyra and Melissa spent their day stickering, organizing and stacking books into pallets. Melissa said they “spent a lot of time stickering a book about Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page—it’s great for kids to learn about those dudes.”

“We probably stickered a couple hundred books between the two of us,” she says. “And that’s a couple hundred books that will be going to children who need them.”

 

SHARING BILINGUAL HOPE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

San Pedro de Macorís, in the Dominican Republic, is known to baseball fans as “the cradle of shortstops.” But in reality, kids who grow up there are much more likely to cut sugar cane for a few dollars a day.

Education can give them options in life. “When they learn English,” says StudioNorth team member Stacy Wilcox, “they can find jobs in tourism, teaching or government. They can go away to college.”

Freedom_INTL_Ministries_200wStacy has devoted herself to giving them that freedom. While partnering with Freedom International Ministries, she’s visited San Pedro de Macorís four times since high school, including a teaching internship in 2012. She’s also financially sponsored one of the children she taught for the past three years, and she returned to visit in December.

“When I met him, Luís Alberto struggled to write his name,” she says. “Now he can do so much more—write the alphabet and read words in English and Spanish. Older students can carry on conversations in English. They practice whenever there are American visitors.”

“A good education gives them hope for a different lifestyle.” 

 

SUSTAINING STABLE EDUCATION IN KENYA

Kenya isn’t just halfway around the world from the US—it’s 180 degrees different from the lifestyle many Americans take for granted.

Mark Mohr Inspire 180

“It’s always enlightening to get outside of the US and see how much of the rest of the world lives,” says StudioNorth COO Michael Matteoni. Last fall, he and CEO Mark Mohr visited Nairobi to reconnect in person with ministries and people they’ve worked with over the past several years in association with Inspire 180.

Mark and his wife Maggie founded Inspire 180 in 2009 to develop sustainable programs, create opportunities for educational development, and meet basic needs for people in nations like Haiti and Kenya, who frequently live on less than $2 a day.

Michael Matteoni Inspire 180One focus of this trip was the GUREM boarding school, where safe, stable classrooms and basic supplies can transform kids’ lives.

“A former student was excited to share with me he’d graduated from GUREM, and is now working in Nairobi teaching others Microsoft Office skills,” Michael recalls. “It was great to see this young man making a life for himself through education and hard work—truly inspirational!”

 

StudioNorth’s recent Season of GIFing campaign helped raise more than $9000 for the GUREM Boarding School. Thank you for sharing our GIFs—and GIFing these kids greater opportunities to succeed!

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