Sunday, November 9, 2014

1st Annual Fundraiser Success!

Last Saturday we held our 1st Annual Fundraiser - Halloween Party at The Tip Top Lofts Party Room.

For a $25.00 ticket, it gave you entry into a draw to Win a pair of Toronto Maple Leaf Tickets, Toronto Raptors Tickets, Lululemon swag, Starbucks gift basket, an Autographed Gary Leeman Hockey stick and more.  For those who were not able to make it to the event and wanted to donate, they were able to purchase a ticket to enter the draw to win Leafs or Raptors tickets.  And of course, the ticket gave you entry to a great party with great music/live DJ and delicious eats.

50 Tickets were sold in advance and we had an attendance of 45-50 people at the event. Drink tickets and additional raffle tickets were being sold to those who wanted a greater chance to win prizes.

There was also a silent auction that was in place to win pair of Leaf Tickets, a Samsung Galaxy 5S Active, DCRMT Massage Therapy gift certificates and a Hamboard Biscuit mini Landsurfer.

After a great night of dancing, delicious food, sharing the story and vision of 100 Smiles Project, laughing over great costumes and meeting new friends, we raised a total of $3,100!  Yes, that's after all expenses!

We are now at a total of $14,000!  We have 71 days to raise the last $10,000 to reach our $24,000 goal.  The last $10,000 will go towards Remar Orphanage.  Remar has an unfinished bakery where the build has been put on hold due to lack of funds.  They need $10,000 to finish the build (this will cover all materials, labour and equipment).  The bakery will be great asset to the orphanage as it will be a business that will help bring in money to help cover costs for the orphanage.  Not only this will be great way to bring in money for the orphanage, but the bakery will also be a place for children to gain new skills in a working environment (leadership, business skills, etc.).

A shout-out to our raffle prize and silent donors: Professional Promotions, Bryan Miur, Droughan Costello - DCRMT, Surf Ontario Shop, Starbucks, TKMT and anonymous donors.

A big thank you to everyone who came out to the event, purchased a ticket and volunteers who helped execute the fundraiser event.

Looking forward to next years event!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great things are happening for 100 Smiles Project!

It has been a while since my last blog post.  I figured it was time to give everyone an update on all the great things that are happening for 100 Smiles Project since coming back from my month long trip in April.

Upcoming Projects
This year we're headed back to El Salvador to work on a number of projects.  We'll be volunteering at Remar Orphanage, providing dental supplies/hygiene seminars, taking part in feeding programs, donating love bags to families, building a classroom in El Cuco and renovating a playground for an orphanage in San Miguel. 

Our Fundraising Goal for the project is $24,000.  The money we raise will help cover costs for: shipping dental supplies, school supplies, feeding programs, education and materials and labour for the classroom and playground.

So far we have raised a total of $9,900 through a number of small fundraising events.  We will be hosting our 1st Annual Fundraiser Halloween Party on Saturday November 1, 2014.  For more details, click here.

We are recruiting volunteers to come with us to help with the classroom build and playground renovation.  If you are interested, you can view the dates listed here and contact us for further information.

Back in June I was able to recruit a number of volunteers to help us out with our laundry list of marketing to-do's.  We now have a beautiful logo/colour palette (developed by Nadia Bergeron) and an amazing copy deck (developed by the one and only Helen Prokos), which tells the story of 100 Smiles Project and what our mission is.  

Website and Social
We launched 100 Smiles Project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this summer. Please make sure you like our page and follow us to stay up-to-date on all of our fundraising events and upcoming projects!  

A website is currently in development, which should be launched by the end of this month (developed by Simon Morrison).  Just in time for our Social Fundraising Campaign!

Business Registration
We applied for a Business Number and incorporated 100 Smiles Project under the Not-For-Profit Act in August.  We have submitted our application for Charity Status and now patiently waiting to hear back.  We were lucky to have a lawyer volunteer his time to help us with our documents to ensure everything was completed.  This was a tedious and long process but should be well worth it.  Fingers crossed!

That pretty much summarizes what we've been up to lately.  It's been a busy but very productive time for 100 Smiles Project.  Things are moving a long well and we're looking forward to your continued support. 

Keep smiling!

Elly Pham
Creator of Smiles

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hasta Luego El Salvador!

My 1 month volunteer trip in El Salvador came to an end this past Tuesday.  The day before I had to fly out, I spent my last full day riding around on a Motorcycle with my friend Chris Van Dine through El Tunco, La Libertad and Tamanique.  I had my best sunrise surf session that morning and I caught so many nice long waves.  I watched my last sunset from the back of a motorcycle while Chris took me through the mountains and the bumpy dirt roads of Tamanique.  It was beautiful and I couldn't have asked for anything more.

After my motorcycle adventure and watching my last sunset, I made my way over to Remar Orphanage to say my final good byes to the kids.  The kids were curious as to why I was saying good bye, "Dondes Vivas?" they asked me ("Where are you going?").  "Yo vivas Canada" I told them ("I'm going back home to Canada").  They all came out of their rooms in their PJ's and showered me with hugs and kisses...they literally showered me with so much love that my heart melted and tears began to fill my eyes as I slowly started to feel emptiness.  I wanted to take them all back home with me.  I often get asked why I don't have kids of my own.  Why do I need any if I have 80 plus kids in El Salvador to love?  It's amazing how much of a bond you can develop with these children in just a month.  Not to forget how much of an impact you you can make in their lives.  The time you spend with these children, the care you provide them when they're hurt, and the laughter you give them...they'll never forget that.  

If you want to make a change in the world, be the change and just go and do it.  If you're not able to, you can donate to the next 100 Smiles Project and we'll be the hands and feet that do it for you.  100% of all donations go to the project.  It's all documented for the public to see so you'll know exactly where your donation is going.

I never had the chance to make my way to Guatemala or Nicaragua like I wanted to due to limited travel funds and travel time.  I also felt that I really had to focus 100% in one area (El Salvador) and not just sprinkle bits and pieces of support around Central America if I didn't have the finances or the time.  If you're going to volunteer somewhere, you've gotta give it 100%.  Projects in Guatemala and Nicaragua will have to wait until the next year or two.

Hasta Luego El Salvador!  I can't believe how quickly the month went by.  I'd say this was my most fulfilling trip yet.  Lots of great surf, met tons of amazing volunteers, made new friends, my new relationship with God, new projects to work on for 100 Smiles Project December 2014/January 2015 trip and fell in love with new children.  I couldn't have done this without the help of God's guidance.  I feel so blessed and loved!

Remember Jahaida?  The chicken defeatherer girl (defeathering the chicken after it comes out of the machine).  I surprised her with tweezers to make plucking much easier and faster!

Lots of love,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Playa San Diego: Handing out Love Bags to Families

While I was waiting for some waves in the calm glassy water during one of my beautiful sunrise surf sessions last week, an idea popped up in my head.  I’ve been trying to think about the best ways to distribute the rest of the funds that were raised for from the 100 Smiles Project campaign.  I thought it would be great to go back to Playa San Diego (a very poor community I had visited a week and a half ago) and provide them with food and financial donations. 

Andrea (from La Red Christian Surfers) and 3 of the World Race Members (Courtney, Wendy and Nicole) came along to help me out.  We went to Selectos grocery store to purchase shopping carts full of pasta, rice, beans, oil, tomato sauce, salt and sugar.  We packaged the items together to make 16 love bags, brought them to Pastor Orlando’s church/community where he had arranged for the mothers of each family to meet prior to church service to pick up their love bags for their families.  They were all very happy, grateful and thankful.  I told them that I couldn’t have done it without friends and family at home.

I also provided Pastor Orlando with an additional $200 to support his feeding program.  In case you missed my last blog; Pastor Orlando feeds a community of 100 plus people almost every day.  This money will help him feed the community for 4-5 days. 

Friends and Family at home who have donated, you guys fed 16 families and provided 4-5 future lunches to a community of 100 plus people.  Well done!

Hasta Luego!


A visit to Love & Hope Orphanage

A few days ago I made a trip to Santa Tecla to volunteer at an orphanage called Love & Hope for a couple of days.  There was something in my heart telling me that there was other orphanages I needed to seek out to volunteer at, provide some financial support and to chat about future projects.  I did a Google search and Love & Hope came up.  I contacted them prior to visiting, made arrangements for my visit and they welcomed me into their home with open arms.  

Love & Hope is an orphanage that was started 10 years ago by a lovely woman named Rachel Sanson who left everything at home in Ohio to devote her life to children in need.  She started the home after a couple of mission trip visits to El Salvador as an English teacher and caregiver and felt a call to start a home where children could grow in a healthy family atmosphere where love and care would be provided and not just food and a roof over their head.  She now has 18 children that she looks after with the help of caregivers, long-term and short-term volunteers.

I had the opportunity to spend this past Thursday and Friday there helping the kids with their homework, playing activities with the kids, joined them for a family meal and chatted with Mandy (Director of Administration) and Rachel to learn about how the orphanage is run, what type of support they need and what they do in order to keep it running successfully.

Like Remar Orphanage the government does not provide any government funding, so Love & Hope is kept running with donations from volunteers, sponsors, friends, family, etc.  All financial donations they receive go towards food, medical, education and shelter for the children.  None of the money is taken for administration fees. 

Just before I left Love & Hope I made a $500USD donation on behalf of 100 Smiles Project with the money that was donated towards the project for this month.  When I presented Rachel with the money, she said that it came at a perfect time because this month was the lowest that they’ve ever been with for donations so the $500USD we had provided helps them out a lot. 

Thank you to friends and family at home who have donated.  I would not be able to do this without your support.

Hasta Luego!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

El Cuco: Where 100 Smiles meets Soul

Before I get into today's post, one of the biggest updates that I forgot to mention is that I decided to change my plans and have been staying in El Salvador during my entire 1 month stay.  I didn't have the personal funds or the time to make my way to Guatemala or Nicaragua, so those places will have to wait until I'm back in Central America this coming December or beginning of the 2015 year.  Also there were a number of opportunities that came up in other areas of El Salvador other than El Tunco which required 100 Smiles Project support.

A new friend of mine, an ozzie named Ahren who has been living on the second floor with me at Casa Makoi for the past month had recommended that I go to Punta Mango to check out the waves.  I was on the fence about going because the whole purpose of my 100 Smiles Project trip was to surf AND volunteer.  Not just surf.  A couple of days later I ran into Adrian, a guy I had met when I was in El Tunco back in January, I gave him the details on why I was back, he then told me that I should connect with a friend of his named Lisette Perez, who owns Azul Surf Camp in El Cuco (which happens to be near Punta Mango) and owns a charity called Surf Sun Soul Project.  Adrian put me in contact with her, I got in touch with her and I made my way to Punta Mango for some waves that I could barely surf (cause they were so big and fast), and to meet up with Lisette to support her needs for her Surf Sun Soul Project.  

Making my way to El Cuco and Punta Mango

Surf Sun Soul Project focuses on expanding educational opportunities for children and providing opportunities for economic stability within the community.  Last year they partnered up with Surf For Life and built a brand new high school for the El Cuco community to give kids an opportunity to change their lives.  Since the high school is in an impoverished community, they feed the students lunch every Saturday.  I thought, this is something I could definitely put some 100 Smiles Project dollars towards.  I also read up on her site that the government provides very little school supplies for the high school and are in need for more.

Prior to leaving for Punta Mango, I decided to stop off at Remar Orphanage to purchase some school supplies at the Library that was built with some of the 100 Smiles Project funds from when I was here back in January.  I thought it would be a great idea to purchase all of the Surf Sun Soul Project school supplies from Remar to bless the orphanage.  The Library just opened it's doors last Sunday and 100 Smiles was their first customer :)

Purchasing School Supplies at Remar Orphanage Library

When I got to the Azul Surf Club in El Cuco, I didn't have a chance to meet Lisette in person since she was back at home in LA visiting family.  She put me in touch with Christina (who is working there for the year) and Skyped Lisette so that I could at least meet her virtually!  Lisette and I hit it off really well.  She's warm, friendly, has a big heart for the El Cuco community and has the drive to continue making it a better place.  

Christina took me around the grounds which Surf Sun Soul Project runs out of, invited me to join her for a delicious fish lunch, took me on a tour of the community, showed me the high school they built last year, and both her and Lisette chatted with me about their future plans that I might be interested in partnering up with.  
Azul Surf Club

They're future plans for the community is to build a playground for the orphanage in El Toro, build a health clinic/community centre in El Cuco and start a Surf Club to encourage kids to go to school and stay and school.  Since 100 Smiles Project starting off with small projects I thought it would be great to take on the Orphanage Playground project for this coming December/early 2015.

Prior to leaving Lisette (on Skype) and Christina, I presented Surf Sun Soul Project with the big box of school supplies we had purchased from Remar for the high school and $500USD dollars so that they can put towards the following:

Saturday School Lunch - $80
Childs Doctor's Visit - $10
Kids Medicine - $20

I told Lisette that she can distribute the funds where it's mostly needed.  She'll be taking pictures of the Saturday School Lunches so that we can see the happy kids 100 Smiles Project will be feeding :)

Here some videos from the El Cuco High School Project you should check out:

Thanks again to all funders of the 100 Smiles Project!

Hasta Luego!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Playa San Diego: Feeding a community of 100+ people

What would you do if you were able to scrape an extra $45 from your pocket a day?  

Meet Pastor Orlando, a Pastor who lives in Playa San Diego and feeds a community of 100+ people almost every day (when he has the money).  And has been doing so for the last 6 years.  Usually the meals him and his family serves to the community are rice, beans and tortillas, to the community, it's a blessing every day as it's usually the only meal they're fed for the day.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to head over to Playa San Diego Andrea Castellanos from La Red and the World Racers* to bless the community with a delicious lunch which consisted of chicken (from Remar Orphanage), rice, fresh salad, bread, tortillas, juice boxes and cookies.  Part of the donations from the 100 Smiles Project went towards covering all the expenses for the lunch.    The World Racers surprised the kids with a huge Winnie the Pooh piñata filled with candy!

The World Racers and I helped prepare lunch, served lunch to the community and played activities with the children.  It was an amazing experience as the children were so excited to eat chicken for lunch.  When it was time to hit the piñata, one of the kid's yelled out "Yeah, I ate chicken today". 

Pastor Orlando has been working on building a church and school for the community over the past 6 years.  The church is currently in the works and the school is running with additional classes that are currently in construction.  The school and church are run off of donations from visitors and missionaries that come through.  The donations usually cover the cost of building materials, construction workers, teacher salaries, etc.  

Before leaving Playa San Diego, I donated $330USD from the 100 Smiles Project donation funds to Pastor Orlando.  I told him that he could use $175USD to go towards a  teachers salary for one month, $155USD can go towards feeding the community for 3 days, or the total amount can go towards 7 days worth of food.

Friends and family, supporters of the 100 Smiles Project, you fed a community of 100 plus people lunch yesterday and provided them with so much more.  Thank you so much for your donations and continued support.  

Hasta Luego,

*World Racers: An amazing group of missionaries I have been volunteering with.  They've left everything back at home to do missionaries in 11 countries in 11 months.  Crazy awesome right?