Hanging on a wall in my house there’s a sign that reads “Life is like a camera. Focus on what is important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't work out, take another shot.” For the past about 6 months I almost gave up on "taking other shots" because I felt the need to change the camera altogether, several times even :) I'm the kind of person that likes to cross out things off a list; as in “done”, “checked”, “accomplished”, etc. You get the idea.
At the beginning of spring the RUF list looked like this:
Donor’s Circle - canceled
Community Center - postponed
RUF Fundraising Gala for MagiCAMP - canceled
In-person meetings and brainstorming sessions - who are we kidding?
This year proved to be a challenging one, from COVID-19 to civil unrest, from quarantine to having heated discussions with strangers and friends about masks, responsibility, politics, police, schools, etc.
And yet....in the middle of all the craziness, the not-so-loved-at-the-moment camera was able to capture some bright moments.
In a nutshell: the fundraising for the hospitals in Romania, the online meetings, coding classes, trading classes, new volunteers, several online birthday parties, the 5 winning projects we are really excited about, 240 new kilometers inaugurated on Via Transilvanica, new Executive Director, our new Facebook group, new fundraising projects, updates from community partners.
Now the most recent news in a coconut-shell (slightly larger than a nutshell) - yes, the quarantine makes you come up with new words and terms:
RUF welcomes the new Executive Director, Daniela Kammrath
Building on its recent growth, Romanian United Fund is pleased to announce Daniela Kammrath as Executive Director. Daniela is a seasoned community organizer, with more than twenty years’ experience in fundraising and developing communities.
“I have been closely involved with RUF for more than a year now, as Board Member and Adviser to the President. I believe in its mission, and its values are my values. I am thrilled with the amazing team of volunteers, the board, and the advisory board, as well as the great achievements we’ve had so far. We have set the bar high for ourselves and we strive to excel. I am honored for the trust I have been granted. I am excited to take on this role and to contribute with my experience and knowledge to grow our organization and work together towards making our vision come to life. I look forward to continuing our involvement with the Romanian American community in the United States and, through philanthropy, to unite and reconnect with our native country and our local American communities.“
The RUF Nation
In our efforts to follow the vision of a strong and connected Romanian diaspora that helps finance the most impactful Romanian nonprofit initiatives and contributes to their own communities as well, we launched our Facebook group: RUF Nation. Anyone around the world who is a friend of Romania is welcome to join and share the philanthropic activities they are a part of, promote Romanian NGOs and their activities, both in diaspora and in Romania, or simply spread some good news.
October is up to a strong start. Here are the new fundraisers for some great projects put forward by our community partners in Romania:
“What Air Am I Breathing?” is the name of the campaign launched with the help of two of our partners: Declic and Caravana cu Medici. The project intends to monitor the air in Cluj-Napoca. The campaign will raise funds for the purchase of 20 nationally accredited air pollution monitoring sensors, installed in strategic locations designed to ensure optimal city coverage. The sensors will monitor 11 air quality parameters, including the presence of particulate matters PM2.5 and PM10, which, when inhaled, can have harmful effects on our health. You can find more about the project and the fundraiser on their Facebook page.
United Way Romania, one of our strategic partners, will launch an educational campaign mid-October. The organization creates and implements educational, health, and integration programs for disadvantaged people in Bucharest, Cluj, Timişoara, and surrounding areas. Follow and like our Facebook page for updates on the project.
Beethoven once said that “music can change the world”. Combine music with fundraising and you have the recipe for an even bigger impact. The organizers of Balkan Chestnut Festival, an annual festival in Virginia, put together a virtual fundraising event that will take place on October 9th and 10th. The proceeds from the tickets will be split between 3 NGOS that impact communities in the Balkans, one of the organizations being yours truly, RUF. The cherry on top, Andreea Rebaltescu-Coca, our own RUF Communications Director is one of the entertainers and Master of Ceremonies.
Updates from our Community Partners
TEACH FOR ROMANIA
When it comes to education, one of the big lessons of the last months was that online or offline, the connection that really matters is the one between the teacher and their student. Over the summer, with RUF’s support, Teach for Romania organized the first Digital Pedagogy Academy for Public Teachers in Education in Romania - a six weeks intensive experience, involving over 200 adults, 300+ hours of learning and practice hours, and 330 students from under-privileged communities throughout Romania. The result was a first generation of digital teachers better prepared to respond to the uncertainty of this school year.
80% of "The Road" (we're assuming that by now everyone knows what we are talking about) is done. 800 kilometers completed, with more than 250 this year only. The phone application is up and running and even with the restrictions in place Via Transilvanica had guests this summer that walked its paths and enjoyed its beauty. Visit their Facebook group to see amazing pictures and read about adventures, dreams, journeys, and friendships.
COMMUNITY PARTNERS AWARDS - well, that’s like the Oscars for nonprofit organizations and this year several of our community partners received an award (minus the golden statue mind you, which doesn’t make their effort and impact less important and noteworthy)
Code4Romania won the 1st Prize with VotDiaspora Project in the Civic and Public Participation Category.
Teach 4 Romania won the 1st Prize with “Where it is not Possible” project in the Social Inclusion Category.
MagiCAMP won the 2nd Prize with MagicHelp-Solidarity Network Project in the Social Programs Category.
Funky Citizens won the 2nd Prize with “80east-Civic Education Lab” in the Youth Programs Category.
Phew! It was quite a lot. If you made it this far, thank you. It’s been a while since our last newsletter and we wanted to make sure to include the most important and up-to-date information. If you want to be kept in the loop don’t forget to follow our Facebook page. If you want to get involved, become a volunteer or a member.
Until next time, we bid you farewell!
Anamaria Neamt, Newsletter Word Whisperer In Chief
Adriana Kulcsar, Web Editor, Deputy Word Whisperer
Romanian United Fund
Update: Via Transilvanica
300 fresh kilometers have recently been finalized and two new trails (in Mures and Harghita counties) will be inaugurated on July 29th and 30th.
Two years ago, when the Via Transilvanica founders took on this project they had hoped to see the finished road in about 30 years or so. As of now, VT is on pace to finish 700 km in total by the year’s end. At this speed, their 30-year dream might become a 3-year one.
There’s so much more to Via Transilvanica than meets the eye: the milestones, the website, the map, the markers etc, are just the tip of the iceberg. The unseen part is the titanic work that goes into making the dream a reality. Thousands of volunteers, ambassadors, donors, hikers, communities are helping shape this vision of having a road that crosses the country from North-East to South-West.
On May 4th VT has created an official group. Join it and you will find out about other people’s experiences, ideas, tips that can be helpful if you are thinking of giving VT a try. And since we're bringing that up....
Yes, VT will be open this summer, so if you were planning on walking its paths and enjoying the beautiful views, fear not. You can. And if you are still on the verge on making a decision, maybe pictures taken on the road on either the VT Facebook page or their official group will help make up your mind.
Remember how $1,100 would buy you one andesite milestone? If you bought one then you have already received a voucher that allowed you to select a hand-carved marker in a location of your choice.
The VT story...to be continued. Thank you for your support!
Before you go: To keep our 100% promise (that 100% of donations go directly to our projects) and get stuff done, RUF needs you today.
In the context of historic highs in unemployment due to Coronavirus and a strong White House anti-immigration stance, sweeping changes to the Immigration Law have recently been announced.
Yesterday we watched our charismatic and highly acclaimed guest speaker Dana Bucin explain the effects of the new law. We also briefly discussed the potential for future collaboration in support of bilateral Immigration Reform between diaspora communities in general and Romanian American organizations in particular.
Watch & Share
For your convenience, a recording of the conference has been uploaded to Facebook, please feel free to share in your network.
We hope you found the discussion informative and useful. Please help us improve by filling up this 1-minute google form.
Several Romanian American organizations and volunteers have recently started working together to create a map of our diaspora, establish a common agenda, and promote and further our community's interests.
Interested in getting involved? We would love to connect and learn more about you and your interests: briefly reply to this email and we'll be in touch.
Stay connected by following Dana Bucin, Romanian United Fund, and our gracious partners: General Consulate of Romania in Chicago, Honorary Consulate of Romania to Connecticut, Arca TV, HORA in Minnesota, Hora in America, Romanul SUA, Immigration Research Forum, ARCS Project, RomAmPro, Romanian America Business Network - Sillicon Valley, Romanian IT.
News & Updates
As we celebrate International Children’s Day in June, these simple, silly nursery rhymes we grew up with remind us of who we are, and why we choose to get involved: the struggle, the frustration, the care, the fun, the children inside ourselves. Happy International Children's Day to all of us!
Drawing and Animation Class
Well, the online class started a few weeks ago was such a success that the initial 12-week session turned into a “still-going strong” one. The kids are having a blast and are working in teams to create games.
We are considering starting a new module soon, for up to 100 children. Interested in our next session?
As of June 6th, Romanian United Fund in collaboration with our Community Partners has raised $787,438.58. With over 500 fundraisers and approximately 20,000 donors in more than 30 countries, RUF did pretty well. Or, as some like to say it: “not too shabby” for someone as young as us.
As of June 15, all the money raised via Facebook has been sent to our partners in Romania.
The money raised went towards the acquisition of face shields and other protective equipment for doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers in hospitals in over 50 cities in Romania, for Coronavirus tests and robots to clean hospitals.
Emergency Fund/Birthday Donations
In the last 3 months, several hundred people have donated directly to RUF ("Donate your Birthday" was the most popular fundraising technique). We thank you all. Due to your efforts, we were able to raise $67,509.71.
We issued a call for projects to all of our eleven Community Partners. A Grants Committee was established and 5 projects were selected to be financed out of 9 applications received. All the funds were wired by June 1st.
More information about the projects we financed can be found on our website.
We go back to our very first big project. We want to make sure we follow up with news from Via Transilvanica and updates for you.
Update: All the milestones have been assigned. Starting June 5th the new website/app went online so you should be able to see your name on the milestone of your choice. Our volunteers contacted the lucky owners and most andesite stones have been claimed.
Wondering what is the simplest way to get involved?
Have a birthday coming up?
We also have to say this: our volunteer department is amazing. If you want to meet a group of really cool, upbeat, and enthusiastic people:
Let's end with another little rhyme. There was a time when English and American soap operas were making their way into our culture and spongy brains were ready to assimilate a lot. It’s a silly one, don’t expect world-changing philosophy. It's a mix of Romanian and English languages. For our Romanian-speaking friends, it might hold some memories.
Welcome to our monthly newsletter. We try to keep them nice and short but we don't always succeed because we have sooo much to share. Please bear with us. ;)
Writing a beautiful newsletter email is scary and difficult, but I have a little secret: I enjoy it! I do, because growing up I’ve never been good at writing and it makes my brain bend into pretzels. The challenge of starting it every month makes me postpone it until it hurts, but the joy of getting it done is worth it.
Now, as every one of us is sitting at home, I’m going to challenge YOU to take up something NEW. Bend your own brain into a pretzel, get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you need to take one step back to make two steps forward and this is one of those times: take up a computer programming class, learn photography, cooking or how to create a website. Be creative. Make the best out of this situation, which, quite frankly, has its benefits: it brought us closer together, our families and our communities.
PROGRAM: "Cercul de Informatica"
Since our Youth Center opening got postponed indefinitely, we’ve challenged 20 kids (10 to 14-year-olds) to learn Drawing and Animation in our first Computer Programming course. I wish I could say the kids love the class, but that would be an understatement. They have launched into it as if they were still back in 1986 and this was the first time they’d seen a keyboard. If they continue at this pace, Pixar beware! Check out what they’ve been able to do in less than 4 weeks. Believe me, nothing can stand in your way if you commit to it and give it a good shot.
In a 16 hour/day, 5 weeks marathon, our volunteers and donors helped raise more than $700,000 for face shields and other protective equipment, for Coronavirus tests and robots to clean hospitals so that doctors, nurses and ambulance workers in hospitals in over 50 cities in Romania can be protected while doing their work. With over 500 fundraisers and approximately 20,000 donors in more than 30 countries around the world, RUF has been leading the Facebook fundraising campaigns.
Five partner nonprofit organizations from Romania have been actively involved in the fight against Covid19, doing titanic work delivering protective equipment to hospitals and sending hundreds of food packages to isolated people.
The cherry on top? Over 400 people raised $60,000 on Facebook by donating their birthdays through RUF. This money will make up a grant for “Emergency funds” and in a few days an independent Committee will make a decision as to where the funds will go based on the applications received from our Community Partners.
On December 5th, 5 months ago, alongside more than 300 people, RUF raised $110,000 for a beloved project: Via Transilvanica. The application that allows you to see the milestones on a map and “adopt” one is up and running. If you made a donation and are a proud owner of one or more of those wonderful andesite milestones, then you should have received a call from us. If you are interested in acquiring one, there's still time. Check out their website.
During the event our guests were shown a video that was kept under wraps until recently. It was released to the public just a few days ago and on the second viewing it's still breathtaking. You can watch it here.
Other news / updates:
- We are glad to formally announce our Board of Advisors . The Board acts as a consulting body, working with our Board of Directors and is formed out of experienced professionals and business people.
- We owe everything that was accomplished to our volunteers, beautiful people with big hearts. Here is our thanks to them.
- Two events we had planned for this spring got postponed: Community Center & Cercul Donatorilor. We will keep you posted with the new dates.
of a time between newsletters? Follow / like our Facebook page to be kept in the loop and see updates and events when they happen.
Do you or someone you know need access to food, medicine, healthcare or transportation? RUF is here to help
Wondering what is the easiest way to get involved? Ask your friends to follow our page. Have more than a minute? Get involved
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