This last couple of weeks have shown me a side of Juneau I didn't know - a community made up of such diverse people with interests, travels and work all over the world, and one of deep generosity.
Because of the story in the Juneau Empire, thousands of people who would not have heard about the event were made aware of its happening, and many of them contacted us. Some came to the ballroom and shared their stories with me.
I met a lady who has been working in an orphanage in Mexico and then returning to Juneau for 17 years now. Another lady came and shared that she and her husband had also worked in Uganda and were deeply thankful to be a part of another way to support care being given there. One family who could not make the night sent a $1,000 check in the mail, which will provide for the home's entire well-being for a month. (This is a family who has never met me.) Another lady from Anchorage had been made aware of the event through a mutual friend working in Uganda and sent down a $500 check. Many families around Juneau sent checks for $50 and $100, and many of those who came dropped money into a basket without asking for anything in return.
During the event, one man who works and lives here talked to me about being raised in an orphanage in a third-world country growing up. He told me it was events like this one, and people like us doing this work that allowed for him to be here today. Tears came to the corners of his eyes as he told me how thankful he was that we were putting a fundraiser on like this.
Another lady who I am still in contact with asked if I would like to share this story with others and has already begun to set up future talks with groups and schools for me to share the story in further ways.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be speaking in a Gastineau Elementary School fourth-grade class about what it's like to be a fourth-grader in Uganda and their way of life.
Others put down their names and addresses to become monthly sponsors of children, and one girl in specific asked how it would be possible for her to volunteer her time and to travel to Uganda sometime this next year and to work with the kids.
Beside the local response, there also was the generosity of many of the businesses in town. More than 25 local companies donated gifts totaling thousands of dollars to be auctioned off. Their donations helped bring in the bulk of the money we raised for the home.
I have been truly overwhelmed by the responses and offerings of so many of Juneau's residents. I feel even closer to this community now. And through this one event, not only did we raise enough money to provide the home's budget for six months, but we opened a new channel for people to be apart of this work in Uganda. We also set up future talks for many who want to hear more.
All totaled, we raised $6,197, with only $100 of that money going into the expense to put it on.
Volunteer, Bukessa Children's Home, Kampala, Uganda