Isabella "Bella" Bohn: I attend South Oldham High School and there I am heavily involved in the art and drama departments. In Hope for Haiyan we are all very creative and we combine all of our ideas to create our organization. My involvement in the art and drama departments help me to contribute my own creativity to Hope for Haiyan. I joined Hope for Haiyan because I felt that the mission of our group was very doable and it sounded like a fantastic way to make a difference. I love my community and I do not know what I would do without it, I wanted to help restore that type of feeling for the community of Cangumbang.
MY ADVICE: If I had to give advice to group starting off, I would say make sure you have members who are truly passionate about what you are serving or trying to accomplish. If you put the right minds together anything is possible. Our team has already raised enough money to support the feedings of children in the Cangumbang community for the past year and for all of 2016. All youth who join Hope for Haiyan gain many friendships and become very involved in their community due to all of the activities that we as a club participate in.
Alongside all of these accomplishments is hard work. One area within our organization that has been a bit of a struggle is the attendance of team members at meetings. We always have many people, but like with any organization, club or sport, attendance of all members is key, which can be difficult at times due to how involved our members are in the community. By having an annual fundraiser we pull our team together again. We have a strong group of youth and supporters who understand the importance of community and who are always willing to come back and serve.
I think one of the most unique and revolutionary qualities of our Hope for Haiyan team is that we are youth inspiring other youth to make a difference. Hope for Haiyan is a refreshing and inspiring way to serve both local and worldwide communities.
Mercedes Kephart: I am a founding member of Hope for Haiyan. I’m from Louisville KY, like a lot of our members. We started Hope for Haiyan back in November of 2013, right before my fifteenth birthday. Personally, I supported Hope for Haiyan because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to take on a cause that helped people who I felt a connection with. I had grown up hearing about the Philippines from my mom and her family, so I already identified that country as being a part of who I am. To know that I share a name, culture, and history with people halfway around the world is a stronger tie than you’d think. When I heard about the typhoon that struck in November of 2013, I never stopped to think that I might be too young to do anything. I didn’t really think about it at all, really. I just knew I wanted to help as many people as possible to recover from such a huge natural disaster. I think sometimes people get too tied up with how they’re going to make something happen, that they never do. There’s always a way, even if it isn’t perfect.
MY ADVICE: It’s important to know exactly what your patrons’ donations will go towards. People want to know that they are actually going to make an impact on people’s lives, and it was something we struggled with in the very beginning.
Once we befriended a young woman, Elsa Thomasma -- who survived Typhoon Haiyan and still lives in the Philippines -- we had better communication flow. By supporting her efforts to rebuild Cangumbang, we have evidence of our impact from the pictures and updates she posts on her blog.
In addition to all our work in the Philippines, Hope For Haiyan also serves food in a local soup kitchen once a month, to give back to our local community as well as our global one. Being a member of an organization like ours will give you a sense of social responsibility as well as the knowledge that you can make an impact on the rest of the world.
Christian Kephart: My mom is originally from the Philippines, and when I heard about the typhoon that had struck and damaged Cangumbang, I couldn’t help but do something about it. So when I was 12, in November of 2013, my family and I formed Hope for Haiyan, as the typhoon was named “Haiyan.”
MY ADVICE: You don’t need a lot of money to make a difference but it takes a lot of time. Making a commitment takes up a lot of time and I’m learning that.
One of the best things you can do to get other people to participate in events is to make it fun. For example, we made a dance video and taught everyone the dance during a fundraiser where we had 120 guests come. Every year we plan to host a Halloween Costume Contest. I think people come to enjoy the food and the DJ, as well as for the cause. It's a great way to build community by having fun while helping people.
And when we serve at our local soup kitchens we meet new people every time and they comment about how young we are. So I think we leave an impact that way too.
Natalie Kephart: I started at the age of 10 in 2013. My personal mission is to help others in need. I love the idea of helping others out of the goodness of someone’s heart. I enjoy getting to know people, and making them laugh or smile. I also think being a part of Hope for Haiyan has inspired me to do good in the future years. I want to know what my purpose is in the world. I know it’s somewhere along the lines of helping people. I want life to have a meaning. I want to help other people’s lives have meaning.
MY ADVICE: A lesson I’ve learned is that things don’t always go your way even if you work hard and are excited about what you’re doing. But go for it anyway. When you help others, it makes you feel good about yourself.
The impact we’ve had is showing others it doesn’t take much to help people in our own city and to help people across the world . Many have supported H4H because they also want to help.