My name is Janelle, and in 2008, I found myself at a crossroads. I’d worked for eight years at an online marketing company that was twenty people strong when I joined, went through three acquisitions, grew to four hundred strong in Chicago (my home town) and ended up being purchased by Google. My tenure was exciting and challenging and frenetic. At the time of the final merger, I had the opportunity to stay on the same track and do more of the same, but instead, I chose to go off the grid. I was perusing a website and saw a posting for an opportunity to go to Nepal, live in a Buddhist monastery and teach English. I can’t say it was something that I’d always wanted to do but as soon as I saw the listing, I knew that’s what I was going to do.
My time in Kathmandu changed my life and the program offered by Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) was the gateway to that change. Inspired by my experience, my husband also went to Nepal through a program with VIN and lived with a host family in a small village, teaching English at a local school. When he returned, we decided that we wanted to help VIN in any way we could, even if we were on the other side of the world. We teamed up with some other former volunteers and formed Friends of VIN, a separate but “sister” organization to VIN, established in the United States as a non-profit as of 2011. We are a small but mighty group whose collective experience opened our minds and hearts and motivated us to try and make a difference. Our mission is to positively affect the lives of marginalized women and children in Nepal, whether that’s through raising funds for various programs or encouraging volunteerism through VIN.
The members of Friends of VIN come from diverse backgrounds and bring different skills and talents to the table, but what we don’t have, is a web designer. We were thrilled to learn of the pairing program that Grassroots.org offers and are eagerly looking forward to pairing up with someone who will be working with us (okay, mostly me:)) to help get our new, official, engaging, interactive website up and running. We want to inspire others to take advantage of the opportunity to volunteer, we want to connect people who have volunteered, and we want to collect funds to support the programs VIN offers in Nepal. We believe that a fully functional website will be one of the cornerstones in helping us achieve these goals. If this interests you, I’m happy to answer any and all questions!