Philanthropy

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THONTHON 2014 is 11 days away!  What is THON you ask?  Penn State Dance Marathon, affectionately known as THON, was started in 1973 by Penn State University’s Interfraternity Council.  In its first year, more than $2,000 was raised, with 39 couples dancing for 30 hours straight. Today, it is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, by involvement and revenue.  THON 2013 raised a total of $12,374,034.46.  In 2014, 708 Penn State students will dance for 46 hours.  The donations are given to The Four Diamonds Fund, a charity devoted to defeating pediatric cancer through research and caring for patients at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

 

The MBA program has been striving to beat last year’s MBA THON total of $13,204.30.  Currently we have raised $6,366.45.  If you are interested in supporting both the MBA program philanthropic interest in THON and children who are fighting pediatric cancer, please follow this link to donate: http://giveto.psu.edu/THON-SmealMBA  Please utilize this specific link to ensure that the MBA program is credited for the donation.  We appreciate your support and look forward to updating you on our progress in fundraising as well as Matt & Mallory’s experience as MBA students dancing in THON.

To learn more about THON, visit http://thon.org/About/History & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyIoIWc8Ihk 


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Pic2 India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country has undergone rapid progress ever since the government opened up its borders for foreign investments in 1991. Sounds familiar? This is exactly what you will hear in any article or news channel. But what people don’t tell you is at what expense this growth happens.
Every development project has displaced communities and has had a lot of negative social and economic impacts on the communities. For example, dam construction projects alone have displaced 21 to 33 million people in India. We met with one such displaced community in Bangalore. The land on which these people were living legally belonged to the “Economically Weaker Sections” of the society. However due to government’s favoritism towards big businesses, corporations were allowed to demolish the homes of the poor for commercial purposes. We learned about this community through a Facebook group and decided to help.
On visiting the site, we found that a lot of displaced people were elderly citizens, women and children. These people were living with bare minimum resources. We did a clothing run and distributed the clothes to as many people as we could. We also provided monetary support to some of the elderly people.
Most of these people are from the economically backward and are desperate for help. In such conditions, it is human nature to take as much help as you can even if it is at the expense of being too greedy due to which some members end up not getting any benefit. Therefore, one of the most important things we had to ensure is that there is equitable distribution of resources. Although donating clothes/money will help in the short run, we felt it quintessential to spread awareness of such exploitations within our circle of influence (i.e. family, friends, and colleagues) so that governments at the expense of growth will not compromise on basic rights of the citizens, especially the lower class since they have very little influence on policy making.

Shridhar Vijay Kumar, Rahul Panicker
Smeal Class of 2013


Participants: Sherrill Chen, Arvind Dutta, Yingyuan Ye

Children’s Dyslexia Center at State College

The service immersion gave us a wonderful opportunity to be involved with our local community and meet with our local community champions. We worked on a marketing initiative for the Children’s Dyslexia Center at State College, PA. We produced and published video content for the Center’s awareness and fundraising.

Children’s Dyslexia Center is a non-profit organization, which provides free of charge tutoring to children with Dyslexia. It is estimated that on an average 20% children have Dyslexia. The State College branch serves 15 counties in Pennsylvania, most in Centre, Huntingdon and Clearfield counties. The management and tutors at the center are very devoted to the mission. However the center is challenged by limited awareness of dyslexia in addition to being underfunded. After our discussions with the Center’s leadership board, we concluded that promotional video content for awareness and fundraising would be the best way to help them in the given amount of time.

It was so much fun on the day of shooting to meet with super energetic kids and their friendly parents. We shot several hours of footage covering several topics and stake holders. During our video shoot, the Center Director Ms. Marsha shared her inspiration, motivation, and commitment for the cause. She also talked about the importance of the Center. Then tutor Ms. Linda shared her experience with the children with dyslexia. We also had a chance to watch the Orton-Gillingham approach to treat Dyslexia which is unique to the Center that uses multi-sensory tactics. It was touching to talk with mothers of two kids who candidly shared their experience with the Center. It was heartwarming to know what it meant for their families. After all, a life is changed forever. A kid feels confident to take on life and any challenge once s/he can overcome Dyslexia. The strong faith from the people for the Center touched us all.  It made us happy. We were contributing to a great noble cause, in however small way that we could. The post video production was challenging, time-consuming but rewarding. We spend a couple of days cropping, editing, fine-tuning and finally composing our final cuts. We created a YouTube channel to upload our final videos. This could be used actively for building awareness and fundraising in future.

Through this service immersion, we learned that the children with Dyslexia with little help from the community as tutors, volunteers and sponsors can lead a normal mainstream life. In fact some of them shine as stars, such as, Richard Branson and Albert Einstein. We hope that our small effort could increase the awareness of dyslexia and engage local community and philanthropists to help this noble cause.


Name: Claudia Aguero Ruiz
Service Organization: Christian Relief Fund (CRF) http://www.christianrelieffund.org/

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As part of my service immersion, I decided to work with Christian Relief Fund, a non-profit organization that provides food, education and bible teaching to children in third world countries. Through the help of sponsors, children are rescued from poverty and are given a better future. I volunteered my time to CRF in Leon, Nicaragua. At this location, the organization operates three preschools and they currently help a total of 436 kids.

The main purpose for my visit was to develop a social media campaign to share with others how CRF in Leon, Nicaragua is impacting the community. With the help of the local coordinators (Esteban Valle, Rafael Romero and Christian Toruño), I was able to get all the information and material I needed for the Facebook page. We took pictures, videos and interviewed children and their parents to document how they have benefited from the organization. During the process, I was able to interact with the kids, their families and the staff.

A week after I started my service immersion, I launched the Facebook page and so far it has had great success. One of the benefits from the page has been connecting sponsors with their kids. It is an easier and faster way to get updates on how their children are doing. The Facebook page is also a great way to get new people to know about the cause and encourage them to become sponsors. If you are interested in learning more about CRF in Leon, you can visit www.facebook.com/crf.in.leon.nicaragua

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Last month I had chance to join a canning trip in Harrisburg with my classmates Greg, Lynn and Anthony. As you may know, this is one of the fundraising activities for THON at Penn State, where all the money raised will go to the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital to support pediatric cancer patients. I’ve always wanted to participate in such a meaningful event but my school schedule is really tight. Therefore I was very excited to be able to join the last trip of this year (there are only three designated weekends for this event each year).

We left early in the morning and arrived at Harrisburg by 10 am. Our destination was Wal-Mart, because with experience from previous trips, Greg told us that staying there is better and safer than being around a street corner. We were lucky that it was a beautiful sunny Friday, despite the whole week of rainy weather. The four of us divided into two teams, each stood in front of one of the entrances with a can and a poster sign, greeting people passing by. It was amazing to see how many people knew about THON and supported us. Some of them were Penn State alumni or current students, or families of Penn State students who were canning in other places. Some have children being treated at the Hershey Medical Center. There were also many other people who wanted to help by donating to our fund. We had some interesting conversations and received a lot of encouraging words for what we were doing. I was really happy about it.

Time went by so fast. At noon, we took a break and had a good time at lunch at Little Joe’s Pizza. Then we came back to Wal-Mart and stayed for three more hours, before heading back to State College. Carrying the heavy cans to the car, we were all eager to see how much money we had raised that day. Anthony and I sat in the back seat counting our result. Holding the money, thinking about each note as an effort to fight against cancer and that everything in the cans would be used to help the unfortunate kids, I felt very proud of THON, of Penn State and of my fellow MBAs. We arrived at the total of about $600 – not as much as last time. However, with a group of only four people, I think it was a success. Thanks Greg and Lynn, member of the THON Committee for giving me an opportunity to be part of this great philanthropic activity.

Janice Nguyen
MBA Class of 2013

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Who: Lucas de Brito

Organization: Loaves & Fishes – Clarksville, TN  – http://www.loavesandfishestn.org/

The experience:

What better place to do my service immersion than the Volunteer State? Service Immersion week gave me the opportunity to fly back to Clarksville (a small town located about 50 miles northwest of Nashville) and give back to a community that welcomed me with open arms during my undergraduate years at Austin Peay State University.

I got in contact with an organization called Loaves & Fishes and explained that I wanted to join their team for a week of community service. Without any resistance, I was welcomed as a volunteer. Loaves & Fishes’ mission is to feed the hungry without asking any questions. They feed anybody that comes through their doors with a big smile on their faces. The organization serves meals from 10:30am to 12pm from Monday through Saturday. In addition, they also work as a distribution center where food donations are distributed to other legitimate agencies in the Clarksville area.

The meals are prepared and served by different teams every day of the week. Each team has a supervisor who assigns different tasks to each team member. Some of the teams that I met during that week have been volunteering for over a decade. The work begins around 8am and the food is ready at a little before 10:30am. A lot of thought is put into preparing the meals, the supervisor tries to balance different foods in order to provide our guests with a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins. The menu is different everyday and given that I was the newbie, my job duties varied each day. My jobs included:

– Mastering the can opener

– Slicing and cutting different types of food

– Moving boxes – a lot of boxes 🙂

– Serving drinks

– Taking out the trash

– Counting the number of food trays

– Serving ice cream

– Cleaning

– Etc…

Although this may sound like a mundane experience, it was very rewarding when I saw how people really needed the meals that we were serving. It made a difference to them! There is something so unique about helping others! It just feels so good!

During our slowest day, we served 144 meals. During our busiest day we served 210 meals.

I am grateful that the Smeal MBA program encouraged me to do community service. Now that I have done it once, I can do it again, and again, and again…

The world constantly reminds business leaders that they must think about their communities before making decisions. The Smeal MBA program provides students with leadership development opportunities that are often not found in other programs.

Thank you,

Lucas de Brito

With Anne Doherty, Board Member of Loaves & Fishes.


 


~ By Ankit, Goswami

Today is end of 1st week of Mod 2. It is difficult to believe that Mod 1 ended so quickly. Now when I look back and think about all the events and activities that I got involved with my classmates, one that absolutely stands out, is Day of Caring. It was a social activity organized by our Philanthropy Committee. The theme of this event was to participate in rendering help in form of serving domestic needs of physically challenged people. We were fast approaching our Final exams for Mod 1. So, I thought that this activity will bring in some much needed breath of fresh air in our hectic and busy schedule.

So, on this wonderful sunny day, around 16 of us from MBA program went to a house not much far from our school. The agenda for the day was to renovate the backyard, trim the bushes and paint the walls. All of us, especially the 1st years, were very excited as this was the first such activity where we were participating since joining Smeal. So, we all were looking forward to it. We interacted with a sweet lady, who was the caretaker of the house. We got our hardware and tools, divided the task among the groups and got started. I started off with my group digging at the backyard. We were suppose to dig 3 inch deep across a wide area, take out the mud and fill it with pebbles and stones. I doubt anyone had ever used these garden tools for such laborious work, but the feeling of working together for such a noble cause kept us fully energized throughout the day. Some of us were analyzing how the process should proceed, some of us began digging and remaining were dumping the mud to the other end. It was a very fun environment. We kept cracking jokes and taking pictures which kept our mood upbeat. We found many old stuff while we were digging, which soon began a great chatting topic. Some of the friends were trimming the bushes as well as painting the outside wall of the house. It was refreshing looking at all of my friends in this new role and new environment, so different from usual MBA class. After we took out the mud from the given area in the backyard, we had to fill in it with pebbles and round stones. Now, this was unloaded on the front side of the house. So as you might have correctly guessed, it provided another task for all of us to work on and yet have more fun. The most interesting part of this whole activity was that we came to know that even though there was a lot of work, it became much easier when we worked together in sync. It was like experiencing the principles taught to us in class.

Finally, after hours of team work, we had a beautiful backyard to show to the caretaker. The sweet lady came out to see our work. She was so happy to see the newly transformed backyard. As a token of appreciation, she had ordered pizza for all of us. Frankly, we all were very happy as all of were feeling hungry. All of us sat down on grass under the warm sun, eating pizza and talking to this lady. We were also joined by another women, who was in charge of an organization which organizes such activities. It was very informative knowing about how their organization works and how they try to help and support so many people with disabilities.

Soon it was time for us to leave. We conveyed our love and regards to the caretaker. We also showed immense interest to the lady responsible for this event for more such activities in future. All of us had final photo session before heading back.

Indeed it was an enriching experience. The personal satisfaction which I and my colleagues derived can better be experienced than explained. Needless to say, it also made friendship among us classmates much deeper as now we were tied with this new precious thread of social service in form of Day of Caring.


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~ By Ankit, Goswami

Today is end of 1st week of Mod 2. It is difficult to believe that Mod 1 ended so quickly. Now when I look back and think about all the events and activities that I got involved with my classmates, one that absolutely stands out, is Day of Caring. It was a social activity organized by our Philanthropy Committee. The theme of this event was to participate in rendering help in form of serving domestic needs of physically challenged people. We were fast approaching our Final exams for Mod 1. So, I thought that this activity will bring in some much needed breath of fresh air in our hectic and busy schedule.

So, on this wonderful sunny day, around 16 of us from MBA program went to a house not much far from our school. The agenda for the day was to renovate the backyard, trim the bushes and paint the walls. All of us, especially the 1st years, were very excited as this was the first such activity where we were participating since joining Smeal. So, we all were looking forward to it. We interacted with a sweet lady, who was the caretaker of the house. We got our hardware and tools, divided the task among the groups and got started. I started off with my group digging at the backyard. We were suppose to dig 3 inch deep across a wide area, take out the mud and fill it with pebbles and stones. I doubt anyone had ever used these garden tools for such laborious work, but the feeling of working together for such a noble cause kept us fully energized throughout the day. Some of us were analyzing how the process should proceed, some of us began digging and remaining were dumping the mud to the other end. It was a very fun environment. We kept cracking jokes and taking pictures which kept our mood upbeat. We found many old stuff while we were digging, which soon began a great chatting topic. Some of the friends were trimming the bushes as well as painting the outside wall of the house. It was refreshing looking at all of my friends in this new role and new environment, so different from usual MBA class. After we took out the mud from the given area in the backyard, we had to fill in it with pebbles and round stones. Now, this was unloaded on the front side of the house. So as you might have correctly guessed, it provided another task for all of us to work on and yet have more fun. The most interesting part of this whole activity was that we came to know that even though there was a lot of work, it became much easier when we worked together in sync. It was like experiencing the principles taught to us in class.

Finally, after hours of team work, we had a beautiful backyard to show to the caretaker. The sweet lady came out to see our work. She was so happy to see the newly transformed backyard. As a token of appreciation, she had ordered pizza for all of us. Frankly, we all were very happy as all of were feeling hungry. All of us sat down on grass under the warm sun, eating pizza and talking to this lady. We were also joined by another women, who was in charge of an organization which organizes such activities. It was very informative knowing about how their organization works and how they try to help and support so many people with disabilities.

Soon it was time for us to leave. We conveyed our love and regards to the caretaker. We also showed immense interest to the lady responsible for this event for more such activities in future. All of us had final photo session before heading back.

Indeed it was an enriching experience. The personal satisfaction which I and my colleagues derived can better be experienced than explained. Needless to say, it also made friendship among us classmates much deeper as now we were tied with this new precious thread of social service in form of Day of Caring.

Pictures from the event at: MBA Photo Gallery

MBA Association  – Philanthropy


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And that was the remark that stuck in my head during the THON brainstorming meeting, a part of the Smeal Philanthropy initiative to reach out to the community. This was the kick-off meeting to bring out ideas for raising funds for the THON 2011 and the target this year was $8000, a significant increase from the last year’s $2000. Several passionate people, a few second years and huge number of first year students, and of course hardcode Penn Staters, were present at the meeting.

There were so many interesting things we learnt at the meeting like ‘canning’, FTK – for the kids, THON etc. The THON is the largest student run fundraiser in the world which raised $7.8M entirely dedicated to fight pediatric cancer and provide family assistance, through the Four Diamonds fund. Each year hundreds of volunteers participate in this dance maraTHON, a 46 hour non-stop event, where the dancers must not  sit or sleep, but interact with the kids, families and of course… dance! This is the way show their dedication to the cause and the people who pledged donations to have the dancers represent people’s contributions who could not be physically present at the event. Just to give you a sense of the exclusivity of this event, there are only 700 ‘available positions‘ for dancers and they are then chosen through a selection process.

In the brainstorming meeting, there were around 10 first year students present but the range of ideas that came out of the meeting were absolutely sparkling, some of which were – ‘battle of the bands’ – a music contest between the first year and second year bands, jewelry making & sale, Care for your kids – a way to have parents pledge money for the THON in return for services for their kids during exams, bake sales during the MBA coffee buzz, ‘THON the buzz’ – create awareness about the THON by getting moralers to the MBA commons, pick-up volleyball, basketball games to raise funds, pledge books, faculty-student tugs-of-war and so on. So the Service@Smeal seems to have started off of a high note and I’m sure that the core team continues this pace for things to come as the ideas come to fruition! Just a prelude to the glorious THON, 46 hrs of no sitting, no sleeping…. no kidding!

-Moulik Desai
MBA Class of 2012


The first thing one might notice as they arrive at the construction site in the morning is that all hands are welcome at a Habitat for Humanity worksite – good thing, because there was work to be done! On Friday September 10th members of the MBAA and WMBA teamed up and worked hard to provide simple, decent, affordable houses for qualified families in need. Habitat’s expert volunteers were a team of some the nicest, most patient, and helpful retired gentlemen in Centre County, and they put a dozen Smeal MBAs to work throughout the day. We built a hallway in the basement, leveled ground, shoveled cement, constructed scaffolding in preparation for a roof, covered the outside frame of the house, constructed interior walls and even helped deliver a bathroom shower.

The Habitat site build provided a great opportunity for Smeal MBAs to socialize, bond and work together without the burden of a business case deadline. It allowed some first and second year students to meet for the first time, and most important we helped the greater State College community. Although we were all tired at the end of the day, everyone agreed that even if you had never driven a nail with a hammer, worked a power saw, shoveled cement into a wheelbarrow or set-up scaffolding, you were a welcome help, assisted in a great cause and had fun! We will be back!

~Bob Edmiston, Class of 2011, V.P. Philanthropy MBA Association


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