Hop Over Here

9 Jun

In case you missed it, we moved our home in the blog world from here to here. If you want to continue to receive blog updates when there is a new post, just click the “follow” link on the bottom right of the page once you are on the new blog! You won’t want to miss out on our RIDETZ updates :)

We hope to hear from you soon!

Photographs by the wonderful Deb Schwedhelm.

Our New Look!

5 Jun

Hello! Remember when we said we had a surprise in the works?! It is with so much excitement that I share with you our brand new website!! Let me tell you a little story about how this beautiful space came to be:

Once upon a time in Germany there was a wonderful woman named Kat Csengo, a virtual assistant extraordinaire looking to offer her talents and services to a nonprofit organization doing important work. She searched high and low and ended up finding TFFT. She liked what she learned about TFFT’s work, and she thought maybe, just maybe, we could benefit from her services. She emailed us, and, “YES! YES!” we declared, “we would love your help.” And so the PaperClip Fox partnership began, and we decided that our first step would be to give our website a fresh look.

Well… suddenly we were like a kids in a candy shop. We began imagining our new website; dreaming about our new website; and conjuring up grand ideas for our new website. In the meantime, Kat moved from Germany to New Zealand, and it soon it became clear that we needed to add another person to our website team. We needed someone who could CODE a website and handle all those extra-tricky tasks that require in-depth understanding of a internet language, something that is gibberish to most people on the planet. Enter Catherine Vo, our magician of a web developer.

Over many a Google Hangout (video chat) meetings our spiffy new website began to take shape. Kat and Catherine worked countless hours to give TFFT a beautiful website, and they did it all pro bono. They poured their time and talent into this project and asked for nothing in return. Wowza.

One of the amazing aspects of working for a nonprofit is the opportunity to witness such incredible generosity. Just as Kat and Catherine selflessly gave up themselves for this project, so many of you generously give of your time, family, funds, and talents to benefit TFFT. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Please take a few minutes to admire Kat and Catherine’s hard work and to get to know TFFT’s new home. We are thrilled to have a website that reflects TFFT’s unique spirit. This page is my personal favorite. You can scroll over the kids photos to see then and now images… how cool is that?! What is your favorite part of the new look?

Busy Busy

30 May

By Kaitlin Rogers

Life in the States has been even busier than usual as we prepare for RIDETZ, run the Annual Fund, and work on a surprise that we will finally share with you in the next few days! Meghann is en route to Tanzania now, and I leave on Monday. The RIDETZ excitement and influx of photos is about to begin. In the meantime below are some glimpses into our days:

From left to right: Gretchen and Mike’s boys sport their homemade RIDETZ shirts at their fundraising event; accumulating RIDETZ goodies from our sponsors; spending lots to time in FLYWHEEL classes in preparation for RIDETZ; the raffle table at Gretchen and Mike’s fundraiser; Meghann found time to ride a bike during her layover in London (true dedication!); Gretchen, Mike, and I went for a long ride; presents for the kiddos; one of our amazing sponsors; boxes of schwag for the riders; a very full cart of clothes for the kids; an incredible view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Meghann’s airplane window on her way to Tanzania this morning; Meghann’s layover in Nairobi.

Hope you’re having a good week after the long weekend!

Meet RIDETZ Rider, Miller Bianucci

22 May

Miller (left) with her sister, Macon (right)

By Miller Bianucci and Kaitlin Rogers

You may remember first reading about Miller and the entire Bianucci Family in this post. There is something special about this family. Their sense of adventure, their commitment to service, and their willingness to tackle huge challenges have lead them to Tanzania year after year, and their dedication to TFFT is something for which we are extremely grateful. I first met Miller when she along with her sister Macon and their parents, Henri and Susan, rode in RIDETZ in 2010. We are beyond excited to have Miller along with us for the 2nd RIDETZ journey. I know I will rely on her positive attitude and steadfast determination to help me through!

1)            Where are you from?

My family is from Chicago but we have lived in Charleston, SC for the past fifteen years.

2)            What do you do for work?

I just finished my freshman year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. I’m studying Social Anthropology, Sustainable Development, and Modern History. I am so thankful to Meghann for encouraging me to look into St. Andrews. This year abroad has hands down been the best of my life and I’m so excited for the next three.

3)            What do you like to do on your spare time?

During middle and high school I was on the track and cross-country teams and have continued to run over here (when its not raining or hailing!). My goal is to run a marathon next year, so I’m preparing for that.

4)            Who is your inspiration in life?

I have to say that Meghann Gunderman is my inspiration and role model. I am so impressed with the amazing job Meghann has done with the Foundation of course, but also her amazing attitude and determination. I am inspired every day by Meghann’s dedication to the children of TFFT and am so lucky to have a mentor like Meghann in my life. Her selfless determination to provide education for these orphaned or abandoned children is remarkable.

Richard, Meghann, Miller, Emily, Lauren, and Macon (RIDETZ 2010)

5)            How did you hear about RIDETZ?

My family and I have been volunteering at the Nkoragana Orphanage in Arusha for the past six years and we’ve been fortunate enough to become involved with TFFT. We are so thankful to TFFT for providing scholarships for the children we’ve grown to know and love. When my sister and I heard about RIDETZ two years ago we convinced my parents to join us in this adventure we knew we couldn’t pass up.

Miller with Mary, TFFT Scholarship Student

6)            What inspired you to want to ride this June?

RIDETZ 2010 was, while it was incredibly physically grueling, the most amazing experience of my life. I have never before pushed myself so hard; steep inclines, deep dust and mud, and rocky down hills made quite a challenging course. I will never forget reaching the top of a hill and seeing the Indian Ocean just about a mile away below me. Completing the ride with such a wonderful group of people was a great achievement and accomplishment.  ‘A labor of love’ is the perfect description of this trip and I can’t wait for round two.

Miller (right) with Macon (left) at the BEACH!! Final day RIDETZ 2010

7)            What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

Sad to say that I don’t have a bike, the only training I’ve done thus far has been in a gym or spinning class!

8)          What unique ways are you planning on spreading the awareness for what you are doing and fundraising?

I’m reaching out to all of my family and friends asking for their support. I plan to have a spinning class fundraiser at my sister’s gym as soon as I get home to raise more funds and awareness in the Charleston area.

******

Thanks Miller! You can support Miller in her fundraising initiative here. You have now met all the riders, with the exception of the TFFT STUDENT RIDER!!! We will announce this lucky winner shortly.

The next couple of weeks are crazy for the U.S. TFFT Team (a.k.a. Meghann and Kaitlin). Meghann leaves for Tanzania early next week, and I leave on June 4th. Oy! There is a LOT to do between now and then. If there is something in particular that you would like to read about over the next few weeks, let us know, and we’ll factor that into our blog planning! (Who do you want to hear from? What are you curious about? Anything!)

Birthday Dreamin’

18 May

 

 

By Kaitlin Rogers

Last month Meghann and I had the pleasure of meeting Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow and hearing him speak about his remarkable organization, Mary’s Meals. As he spoke, he revealed that his genuine vision is for every child in this world to receive at least one meal each day.

He realizes this means providing meals for 67 million chronically hungry children. Yet, his goal remains. Every child in this world should receive at least one meal every day.

The entirety of Magnus’s speech was moving, but what struck us most was this exclamation:

When I share my vision, people look at me like I’m crazy, and for a while even I believed myself to be crazy to have this goal. But then I realized: wanting every child to eat once daily is an enormous goal, but what is really crazy is that, in this world of plenty, there are currently children who do not eat one meal a day.

“That,” he said, “ is madness.”

Thank you, Magnus, for this brilliant insight. What a poignant perspective.

This provided us the assurance needed to tackle our own lofty goals. This mentality is so refreshing. Think of your own goals, big and small, and apply this outlook.

 

 

Accepting that the way things are is crazier than the way things ought to be is a relief! It means that our goals are possible because, in some way, the way we currently live makes less sense than the way we aspire to live. The difficulty always lies in dedication to those goals and careful, determined execution, but with that right dose of dedication and execution, our goals are possible.

 

 

I recently read a poem by a very talented young poet, Kiele Marston. Her piece concluded with the stanza:

I will stand up for myself and fight now
And live the life that only I allow.

 

Live the life that only I allow. So much of this life is out of our control, but we do have the power (and we owe it to ourselves!) to allow ourselves to fight for our goals because, often, when it comes to our own goals, we are the ones standing in the way.

 

 

 

 

Today is Meghann’s birthday. Meghann is someone who thinks BIG, dreams BIG, acts BIG, and loves BIG. She is an inspiration to many. Meghann, as you look ahead to this next year, I hope you will continue to set and achieve sky-high goals. You have created something extraordinary, and this is only the beginning. Love you!

Meet RIDETZ Rider, Denise McFadden

17 May

By Kaitlin Rogers and Denise McFadden, RIDETZ Rider

I had the pleasure of meeting Denise in 2010 when she tackled RIDETZ for the first time. Denise is now back for seconds. This either says something about how amazing RIDETZ is or how crazy Denise is … take your pick :) Either way, we are lucky that Denise has decided to take once again take on this challenge because she is an awesome person to be around. Denise carries TFFT’s mission and kids in her heart, and we are so grateful for the endless support and dedication she has shown her to TFFT since the very beginning.

1)            Where are you from?  

Morris Plains, New Jersey

 2)            What do you do for work? 

I work for Covance Central Laboratory Services in Business Development.

3)            What do you like to do on your spare time? 

Run, Bike, Ski, play with my dog and drink wine! 

2011 Kilimanjaro Marathon

4)            Who is your inspiration in life? 

While of course I would say my parents and family, it is also anyone who strives to challenge themselves physically and go beyond what they think they can do.   

5)            How did you hear about RIDETZ? 

I am one of the board members for TFFT and also did the ride in 2010. 

RIDETZ 2010

2010 RIDETZ reunion in Charlotte at TFFT’s SOS Gala

6)            What inspired you to want to ride this June? 

Being part of the ride in 2010 was such an amazing experience and just could not pass it up this year! 

7)            Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ? 

Still being able to get my butt on a bike for 400 miles! 

8)            What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is) 

Along the Delaware River Canal path in both NJ and PA.

9)            What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name? 

Both a Giant road bike and a Cannondale Mountain bike.  Neither one of them have actual names but at times, I have called them many things especially on the uphill climbs!

10)          What unique ways are you planning on spreading the awareness for what you are doing and fundraising?

I am sending my friends and family a letter asking for their support. Between that and my online fundraising page, I hope to reach my $10,000 goal.

Thanks, Denise for all you do for TFFT. See you in Tanzania! We have one more rider to introduce you to next week, and then the next week we will all start journeying over. Be sure to stick around… it’s going to get pretty exciting around here!


Nancy’s Response

15 May

Today you get to hear from Miss Nancy again. As promised, we shared the comments that you left her after reading her post entitled My Christmas Holiday. Nancy took the time to respond to each comment, and you can read her responses below!

Comment:

I loved reading about your school and home life Nancy, Thank you so much for sharing! Please keep us posted on how the rest of your year goes. And please encourage your classmates to write too:)

All my best,

Pam

 

Response:

 

 

Hi! Pam,

 

Hope that you are fine, on my side am good and healthy. I was so excited to read the letter you sent to me. Am glad that you love reading about my school and home life Pam, don’t worry I will keep sharing a lot with you, did you read my blog post about The Hat?? I think you will love reading it too!

 

I love my school and enjoy the teacher who teach me in different subjects in school. When are you going to visit us?

 

Lots of love and hugs to you!

 

From,

 

Nancy Phelix

 

Comment:

Hi Nancy! Your December Holiday sounds like it was really fun and really relaxing. So happy you read and enjoyed The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I haven’t read it yet, but you just inspired me to pick up a copy and start reading! Good luck with your classes this session. Sending you all big hugs and lots of love from New York.

Love,
Sari

PS – Eating snacks is one of my favorite things to do too :)

 

Response:

 

Hi! Sari,

 

I hope you are fine, on my side am good and healthy. It was happy to hear from you dear one, and it was very lovely and exciting to have a letter from you. It is true that my December holiday was really fun and really relaxing. And about the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, please try to have a copy and read it. Thank you a lot for the good luck wishes, and the love with hugs. Much love and hugs from bunny (rabbit) I mean its me. Take care and enjoy your time.

 

Love,

 

Nancy Phelix

 

Comment:

Nancy! You have such an impressive way with words, and I really loved reading about your holiday break. I hope that you will consider writing more stories about your life for the blog in the future. Many people go to the website to read the blog each day, and I know a lot of people have already read your post, so you can consider yourself a published author :)

Love, Kaitlin

 

Response:

 

 

 

 

Dear Kaitlin,

 

I hope that you are fine, on my side am okey and healthy. It was so exciting to read the letter you sent to me. Am now considering myself as a published author & a great designer in the world. Did you read my blog about The Hat? When are you going to come visit us in Arusha? I miss you very much!!

 

Usa River Academy is good and it gives us qualified education for both levels. I love my teacher especially when teaching in class, I really enjoy and pay attention. How are you doing?? How is everything? Lots of love to you with hugs!

 

From,

 

Nancy

You can read Nancy’s second blog post A Hat her dream of becoming a fashion designer here. We will post responses from Irene, Rosemary, and Sophia as soon as we receive them. The kids absolutely love hearing from you!!