~ Empower. Inspire. Encourage. Innovate. Enhance. ~ Autorizar. Inspirar. Animar. Innovar. Realzar.~

Yo to big fo yo britches!

As you all have come to know I love to travel, volunteer, study and work with families in Central America. I love Guatemala and Nicaragua like they were my second homes. I have strong opinions and beliefs when it comes to these beautiful yet seriously impoverished lands.

There is nothing that will set me off any quicker than debating ‘CAFTA’ or ‘development’ with someone.

I have educated myself pretty nicely in these areas and feel confident when I take on the debate that you will see things through another pair of eyes when I am done.

I have been to some of the poorest corners of the western hemisphere. I have also been to some of the wealthiest. I have witnessed firsthand some of the evils of American greed and though I am proud to be an American I am ashamed of the branding we have left everywhere. 

Years ago a dear friend from Zimbabwe and I were chatting, when she asked why I want to travel and volunteer teach, I replied, “I want to see the world, share my experience, strength and hope and would like to have my new friends share theirs with me. It hurts my heart to know so many hate Americans and I would like to know why…” She looked at me with the biggest, softest eyes and said eerily, “Do you really want to know that answer?” That has haunted me every trip since.

Flash forward, to today, I have been working diligently at raising funds and accepting donations for the past few months as I do with each trek I make to Central America. I have been working an incredible number of hours at my job. I have been writing to organizations and reaching out to anyone who will listen, anyone with a website, e-mail, -àANYONE. I raised the bar in hopes to bring some much needed items to Nicaragua in March.

I know that I do not possess the ability to change the world. I just want to make a contribution, give back, do on to others…It’s not a difficult concept. 

It’s called compassion.

The thing about living in the grand old USA is we have “access” to the internet, telephone, someone who knows someone in power, and I have been working it for all I can. I have to tell you I have experienced a big FAIL!

I am so frustrated and unimpressed.

I have utilized services for fundraising collections online and found they are a bit of a scam…Did you know they charge you hidden fees?? Ya, I was impressed. I read the fine print too, I just didn’t particularly think it was funny to sell an item for charity and have to actually pay the company more than what it sold for, then have the moron that bought it complain, it was a day later than they wanted it. I really wanted to reach through my computer and knock a few heads together. BUT nice me didn’t I simply paid the fee, took the knock on the chin and shirked it off as a bad experience not to be repeated. 

The countless number of hours I have been putting in at my job to pay my bills and raise the cash I will need for moving around in Nicaragua has worn me down. I am about as annoyed as one can get with hearing everyone’s complaining about needing to; smoke or how they haven’t had a break or that they are tired, yet turn around a pickle their liver after a shift or smoke their little brains out getting high so they can escape the reality of being an adult and party half the night. Seriously, do you not get that I am not the least bit interested…I am at work to earn a living. Furthermore, I could care less about some of the minutia drama from the corporate takeover we have been cursed with (yes I said cursed) and the toddling tyranny.  

As for these, charitable organizations that have offices in the USA and branches all over the world…helping oooooh soooooo many. I have written to companies, organizations, firms and more, trying to get; information, assistance, donations and/or money for: Spanish coloring books, text books, children’s literature, education materials for healthy livings i.e. drinking water, hand washing and teeth brushing. The only organization to respond has been the CDC and they were not that helpful. Conclusion –it always comes back to this.  The USA is just too darn big for its britches! Way too big!! We are over developed to the MAX and under aware. I am over it!

I make a conscious effort to respond to every inquiry and post to my blog, email, twitter and fan page. Why because I love what I do, I love talking about what I do and I love sharing what I do. I do my best to respond in three languages, English being the one I am best at and I respond within 24 hours or less.

For me these non-responders only strengthen my desire to walk away from the, cooperate-dorks of the world. As if I didn’t know it before…I would rather do business locally or go without. Thanks.

I hope that all of my amazing friends and family the world over who contributes in making my travel possible knows that you are precious individuals…just in case I haven’t told you yet today. Who you are and what you do, for me, my projects and for you and yours is simply second to NONE!

I have a goal one day of heading up an organization that works toward providing materials and volunteers to improve the lives of others but, I do not want to become one of those hated American organizations that makes promises they can’t deliver.

Crap fair frenzy…nope that’s not a typo!

It’s been a bit since my last blog. I have been super busy with work and some of my family came home so I decided to give blogging a little break and return to it after the holidays besides, I am sure all of you were really busy too. I hope everyone had amazing and happy holidays with your friends and family!

During my last blog, I mentioned my craft friends’ idea to host a craft fair as a fundraiser for my upcoming trip back to Nicaragua, well she did it!

February 25 
Waterville Grand Hotel 
Waterville, Maine 

We are having a super fun, super exciting Crap Fair!

I love the name! It fits perfectly with my philosophy of us having too much CRAP to begin with and tossing it in the garbage does not solve the problem. I believe in RE’s recycling, reusing, refinishing, reselling, rearranging –just no more reeeeediculous buying of MORE!

As the past few weeks have progressed many of the projects encompassed under the Crap Fair umbrella have begun progressing as well. I have started putting together posters for vendors and myself, along with ideas and thoughts for the next classroom visit, a slide show from this falls Nica trip, and a scrapbook to share with everyone (classes, Pancake Breakfast friends & Crap Fair guests). Ahhh the memories…I look forward to returning.

I was googling one night and stumbled upon what I thought was an awesome website for children's books written in Spanish. Thinking, I was so smart I started putting an order together. I even posted the companies link on my facebook fanpage encouraging friends to buy a book and donate it toward the trip….it wasn’t long after, I had message from my crafty friend letting me know she had already booked a table with the very same company I had just discovered. I thought wow!! This girl is on it and well so much for my being a smarty pants.

What developed in the following giggling moments of two girls working so hard to achieve the same goal was a CHALLENGE. I wrote to our contact from the book company and proposed that she have all the books she could get on hand in Spanish to sell at the Crap Fair, I told her no matter what they would be bought. My logic is if a shopper is there and wants to make a donation we have supply in demand. She agreed and turned around and made me an offer that blew me away. She offered rock bottom discounts and to donate her profits. I was stunned. I haven’t even met this lady.

That’s the power of this project. Complete strangers want to help. I remember my father sitting with me before I left last fall saying, “People want to help they just don’t always know how. You are the how. They see what you do and want to help you.”

One of my awesome high school friends offered to donate towards our raffle one of her amazing Diaper Cakes, a craft she is very well known for in our community. Anyone having a baby or needing the perfect baby shower gift must buy or give one of these!

On the heels of that conversation, came a message from another very dear high school girlfriend who is a Massage Therapist. She wrote to me wanting to participate and offered to set up a booth and do chair messages donating her profits to the trip and offering a gift certificate to raffle off.

My amazing soap designer gal pal has been working diligently at creating pine scented soap for the Nicaragua students and plumeria scented soaps for the Maine students; which we also will have on hand at the Crap Fair. I am working with a program to educate children about proper hand washing and why it is so important, sharing a scent from each others  homelands only makes learning that much more fun.

A very near and dear friend of mine who has really worked hard these past two years, putting herself through college and doing AMAZING things with her life, is a very talented photographer and has volunteered to photo journal the Pancake Breakfast and Crap Fair. I am so pleased and excited to have her keen eye and talents capturing every moment along the way.

The organizer of the Crap Fair and super talented jewelry designer, whom I cannot rave wildly enough good things about, has spent countless hours at home with her little daughters crafting beads to string on charm bracelets to put in the kids backpacks.  I love to buy bracelets when I travel as souvenirs and give them to my friends when I get home so why not make some Maine designed charms and give them as mementoes to the Nicaraguan kids…Which, yes, will be available to purchase as a donation to the trip at the Crap Fair.

The sisterhood, the support, the women in business, helping other women to help others is simply phenomenal. I cannot thank these beautiful talented ladies for the unwavering support they give to me and my projects. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by angels both here and abroad.

A long time ago my beautiful Roja and I talked about the many layers of these trips and the tying of worlds together, this indeed is another layer that fills my heart and soul with joy knowing, I come from a place and a people, that truly cares about something greater than themselves.

And there is so much more that I haven’t even begun to wrap my head around.

Off to piece together some posters for the fair…heaven knows I need a big head start as I am not nearly as talented as these ladies are...

Hasta luego!


Santa Claus has gone to town...

Little more than a week ago I rolled out some fundraising thoughts and with no more than the click of a button, my laptop and cell phone started blowing up…

A childhood friend contacted me about connecting her daughters’ classroom to the school I will be visiting in Nicaragua. I am so thankful to have her in my corner, every trip, every time, she is always the first one to call, text, email, share, send or like the projects I am involved with. The long awaited meeting is tomorrow afternoon. I cannot wait to announce the classroom to you all!!

My Christian friends came to me when they heard I was going back to Nicaragua and said, “You know, it should go without saying, you can count on us for our gift.” 24 Spanish bibles sharing the Christian message with our little friends in Nicaragua is both a privilege and an honor to participate in.

A wonderful friend and alumnae of Colby College reached out to me about making a donation. I was thrilled to receive her donation but even more so thrilled to hear from her. She is a beautiful lady doing beautiful things with her life and she took the time to want donate to something I am passionate about…Thank you!

I always wonder who is reading my blogs…it’s a lot more people than I thought for. A fellow, alumni of my girlfriend had contacted me over the summer and I will never forget his encouraging me to keep writing. He told me even if I was writing for myself it was a good thing but I should be aware the most unlikely of people in the most unlikely of places are likely following along. I am seeing now exactly what he meant. 

I have wonderful friends who love to share what I am doing with their friends for example, I loved passing by and overhearing them talk about things like the upcoming pancake breakfast and the backpacks project. I simply loved one friend who introduced me to his mom and aunties and as I walked away I overheard the mother say, “that’s the one he was talking about at home…” This is how we do it…spreading the word. One friend tells another and they tell another and suddenly we have backpacks in the hands of alllll those children.

I have some crafty gal pals who are wives of friends from high school and men I work with who are just wonderful people. One night last week before logging off for the night I read a status and thought I saw my name in it. I quickly went to the page of my friend and my eyes filled up with tears when reread what it said. This beautiful lady was encouraging her children, friends, and daycare families to donate gently used books to me, so I can resell them on Amazon. There is no way I can describe how that made me feel…I went to bed that night and I all I wanted to do was give her the biggest hug and tell how grateful I was that she had come into my life. 

My girlfriends, you know the ones you divulge your every last secret too, turn to for advice or can rely on to set you straight and keep you grounded…We have become even closer since my return…We love each other and I love that they don’t let my projects dominate our friendship. They let me be Jules without the fundraiser, humanitarian, student, teacher, cloak…It is nice to just relax sometimes and be a woman. Though, I will say my bestie thinks I should host an indoor yard sale pre-Nica and it is on the table and being given serious consideration.

On a craft fair mission, keeping with my commitment to shop local, I met up with the same crafty lady that is hosting the book drive in her daycare and we talked about a potential craft fair for Nica…WOW! I was overwhelmed with emotion at the sheer mention of it. I am always taken aback by the generosity of others, when it comes to backing me or my projects. There will be more to come on this in the very near future. It was quite a moment standing beside this woman, my friend, and hearing her excitedly shoot out ideas for fundraising and having our mutual friends chime in offering their ideas…a serious case of network unfolded right in front of me.

Last week at work, a secret Santa came to town; a truly amazing and wonderful friend carrying the grandest box of school supplies I have ever seen. Santa you are a sweetheart! I brought that box home and went through all that you gave to the children –your donation alone has ¾ of the backpacks for one classroom filled. I am still speechless.

Thank you all for everything that you do, have done and continue to do…you are all blessings in my life and I am very fortunate to have you in my life.


Funds they are a raising...

For me, having the first few days off each week from work, means rolling up my sleeves and getting to work early on my volunteer projects and bulldozing through, often burning the midnight oil trying to accomplish some seemingly impossible goals/tasks.

The past two weeks with the guidance of a good friend AsTold By Jules the blog as gone under some serious construction, hopefully you all will enjoy the finished product as much as we do. I wanted it to be more readable and to connect social networking sites such as facebook and twitter to the blog. I also wanted to learn how to publicize the blog better and really drive visitors to the page. Please feel free to post a comment letting us know your thoughts as you’re the one reading it…

You will notice on the top right hand column of the blog a donations button now ready and working using both paypal and google shopper for your convenience. Many, many friends have written to me that live afar wanting to support the projects restricted or otherwise and have found the donation button to be the best means for them.

I learned a lot in my fundraising days at Colby; good and bad, and have utilized a lot of the trials and errors in designing what I think is a pretty darn good webpage for appealing, donating, educating, and informing. Of course, the page is ever changing and growing but I am growing into my own style of branding and finding what works for Jules.

In networking I have been able to organize a couple of fundraising projects which have me very excited for the upcoming trip in March and proudly I would like to announce that this is a fully sponsored trip.

First, is a Complimentary Pancake Breakfast that will be held at the Waterville, Maine Applebee’s on February 19th. Details are in the previous blog, can found on the facebook fan page and, in the right hand column on the blog page. Essentially, what I am offering is a pancake breakfast to each person who brings a backpack that morning, and backpacks are described in more depth in the prior blog and on the facebook fan page. I think this will be an exciting opportunity for those wanting to contribute and to meet with me in person as well as have a great breakfast.

Secondly, I have been working diligently at creating an Amazon sellers account to “Lighten the Load” my goal here is to resell used books and designated the funds towards purchasing educational materials for school children. As you already know, As Told By Jules works with school children in the USA and Central America donating backpacks and forging friendships through penpal letters. At present I have over 100 books listed and have sold 12 in the past two days.

Third, a continued effort in the “Closet Cleaning” process carries on at Retail Therapy in Waterville, Maine. If you are interested please stop by there are; purses, scarves, belts, boots, shoes, pants, shirts, dresses, jackets and jewelry displayed in Brenda’s boutique. I hope you will check it out.

This coming year, 2012, As Told By Jules will be donating $500 to Casa Rosario providing a one year education for two Guatemalan’s and in honor of my ten beautiful children, niece and nephew ( Aicha, Jami, Roja, Martin, TJ, Hieu, Josie, Mari, Alexandra & Dimitri ) much need school supplies to Common Hope, and naturally through my own backpack project another 50 students will receive school supplies both in USA and Nicaragua.

Once the spring arrives, which winter has yet to really hit the northeast corridor, therefore I have no idea when this will be…I will be hosting an “RE” project. If you have been following the blog you know how passionate I have become about RE’s; recycle, reduce, reuse.  A yard sale downsizing some of my personal over-stocked-ness and providing people in my area with some relatively good condition second hand items along with utilizing the funds generated to follow through with the afore mentioned projects in Central America.

Thank for your continued support and stay tuned as this year is shaping up to be even more exciting than the years past.