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I’ve been a teacher my whole adult life. I used to teach in the classroom, now I teach in the field. Of all the teaching moments that stand out, one stands out most. Back in the 90’s, after four years teaching in the Bronx, I realized something that would change my life. The teenage kids I worked with day in and day out never talked about love. Well, let me rephrase that. They talked about love all the time, if talking about sex is the same thing as talking about love. It was with one kid, a kid I’ll call Ralphie, that I came to realize that the one thing that my students needed to get right was the one thing they got wrong again and again. Not that they did wrong things. I mean, maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. You can judge that for yourselves. What they got wrong was this: They thought love was something purely personal. Ralphie thought that what he had for his girl was something only he could understand. The same went for his mother. He thought that the broken love between he and his mom something happening to him alone, something utterly unique, something like his very own fingerprint.
But of course, love is pretty much just the opposite. It is maybe the ONLY thing that we all have in common. In fact, it could be called, and has been called by many cultures from many epochs the source of humanity. The source of life. Love, as Tolstoy famously wrote, is “what all men live by.” And of course, he meant all women too. He meant all every-kinda-thing that dies.
Yet, for something so universal, my kids didn’t know a damn thing about it. Wait. I didn’t know a damn thing about it. And it struck me back then, in the Bronx, that no one in New York City knew a damn thing about it. And New York is really big. It was the most important conversation being had yet no one was actually having it. And as for us, the teachers, forget about it. None of us risked a teaching moment to delve into love. Sex talk was ubiquitous, love talk was like dirty underwear. What was going on?
Well, I’m not exactly sure what was going on, and what continues to go on, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I resolved to teach a class on the history of love. I’d call it The History of Love. But for many years no one was buying my History of Love 101 elective. Until Seacrest, a school down in Florida gave me a shot. And for eight years I taught this class, and for eight years I watched as the suburban kids pretty much thought about love as often and as confusingly as the kids in the Bronx. There was no difference. It was like we adults had hidden love in some plastic egg on Easter, and then jammed it in crawlspace under the furnace. About the only thing more toxic than teaching a course on love was teaching a course about religion. Kids were petrified, teachers bent over in fear.
Until they weren’t. Until they realized it was all they wanted to talk about.
And so it is that now, working as a teacher of a different sort, I’ve come to resurrect the notion of love in a VLOG. I just learned what a VLOG is by the way. I’m hip. Take a look at our new Love Vlog. It is an attempt to talk about the thing that we hope and pray animates FTF field workers, out there alongside the extreme poor. Doing it right is essential. We hope that love is the true metric of success. Furthermore, this VLOG is an attempt to get the conversation moving. We hope you like it. I hope you like it. I’m afraid of the crazy YouTube comments to come, but courage is the currency of the creative. So… let’s get rich and converse. Follow us at our YouTube channel here. Please like us if you like it. If you don’t, like us anyway. Is that even a thing? Is that allowed?
Peace to you. We don’t claim to have perfect answers on our Love Vlog. But we do claim that there is no more essential conversation than this one. It even beats out Trump tweets and CNN watch parties. It does. It must.
Welcome to our first monthly campaign!
Adolfo has been one of the driving forces for our field workers in Guatemala. For them, he symbolizes the power of the forgotten poor. As an impresario (for more information on impresarios please click here), Adolfo has showed not only the necessary determination and passion to make his dream great, but incredible.
Adolfo’s dream, the Turicentro K’achelaj, functions as a retreat for healing, relaxation and fun for families around the area. The center boasts sweeping mountain views of Chuinajtajuyup, Guatemala, a soccer field, a pool, and various recreational amenities. This being said, Adolfo’s Turicentro already has a share of patrons, but his vision has expanded to cater to the demands of the people he serves, delving more into the realm of ecotourism.
With the help of our field workers, Adolfo has curated his dream to include hot water baths, and eventually, an ecohotel. The recent installment of a clinic in the town has created a transient population that Adolfo can serve by providing a comfortable place to stay and rest. By building up the Turicentro, Adolfo hopes that families can enjoy a nice get-away close to home.
Adolfo needs three solar water heaters to take the Turicentro to the next level. Please help us raise $4,200 this month! We can do it!
While we work to facilitate Adolfo to the best of our abilities, we rely on your generous support as well. Please help us help him.
For more information and updates about Adolfo’s journey, please keep up to date with our campaign page, or reach out to a member of our team.
While most of our time is dedicated to building up the people in the countries we serve, re-imagining aid as a manifestation of love, and motivating others to create sustainable change, we recently took some time to reflect upon our organization. What we found was a dash of discord – sometimes our passion and our words failed to match our mission statement. And the logo? It was born in the earliest days of the organization. The simplicity of it served us well. We continue to love it and will use it creatively going forward. But we are no longer a fledgling organization, and the “kids around the globe” idea is, well, a tad too cute. And misleading. As with any coming-of-age story, we’ve noticed how gangly we’ve become when looking in the mirror. We are realizing a new us, a new identity of sorts. And so…
With the pro-bono help of the wonderful Dan Beltran, and the collaboration of all FTF staff, we are proud to present FTF’s ‘makeover.’ Our new logo and streamlined mission statement reflect the reality of our work and the vibrancy of our organization amidst the gamut of NGOs and non-profits. So without further ado… our new logo!
We are happy about Dan’s work (see more of his work here). In it we see joy and the patient growth of magnificent ideas, born locally, and sustained by community at the Kepi table. We love it; we hope you love it too.
In addition to a new logo, we also present our shorter, more attentive mission statement. It was harder to pin down than it looks. Marketing people actually work, it seems. Heck we almost gave up! But, alas, we think it finally got better.
Finally, we want to be held accountable. In turn, here is the FTF Core Values Statement. Think of this as a set of promises to you, our donors, and to the people we work with at home and abroad:
So. There it is. Our new look roll-out. Mostly though, we continue to do what we’ve always done: Get close to folks who suffer, share in their lives and in their hopes and dreams, assisting them in creating momentum for a life-well lived. We call it relationship. We think it is pretty simple. And we thank you for helping us along the way!
Little things are happening in a big way around this joint. We are excited to tell you about our brand new FTF Media Director, Geena Pietromonaco… She cool. And she’s good at her job.
Geena’s been in the Pacific Northwest her whole life, growing up in the Seattle area, going to school at Gonzaga University in Spokane, and currently residing in Portland. Geena has been deeply enamored with film and visual storytelling from an early age, most notably while watching Good Will Hunting. This and a myriad of other beautiful events in the Theatre Arts program at Gonzaga inspired her to pursue a career in acting and video production. She’s thrilled to be working with the amazing people at FTF, is extremely grateful for her time at site in Guatemala, and is eager to see what else is in store for this beautiful foundation.
Look for Geena’s work as she gets ready to shoot upcoming Kepi’s in Los Angeles, Chicago and points unknown. We also would love to get her on a flight to Sierra Leone in the near future. Any ideas on how you can help Geena help us document this thing we call First Things Foundation? Shoot us a note at email@example.com or click here and hit us up on Facebook.
First Things Foundation announces a new opportunity to work in Kazakhstan. We are looking for a trail-blazing field worker interested in teaching at a unique school while also joining our fledgling foundation as a full-time field worker. We are dedicated to filling this position quickly. Please read more about our opening below and give it more than a thought or two! Help us find an amazing person interested in authentic and long term sustainable development!
First Things Foundation
Almaty (Kazakhstan) Field Worker
Background: First Things Foundation is a 501c3 founded in 2013. Our goal is to serve the suffering poor by living as they do. We do this in order that we may truly listen to them. We leave our comfortable lives and immerse in the world’s poorest neighborhoods for two years. Once there we learn the local language, serve our partners and use our expertise and our networks to raise awareness and capital investments for great local projects. We create unique profiles for our clients (we call them Impresarios) and introduce them to the wider world. Proximity is everything at FTF. Technology is no substitute for human relationships built face to face, hope by hope, and meal by meal. Once installed at site, our field workers:
When we do our job correctly we help the poorest of the poor to build their great projects and create momentum for local economies and communities.
Kazakh Site Job Specifications:
Key Tasks and Requirements:
Please send a resume and a cover letter to John Heers (firstname.lastname@example.org). Include Kazak Field Worker in the subject line. Please try and address these two questions in your letter: Why do you want to work for FTF in Kazakhstan? What are two building blocks necessary for healthy assistance to the extreme poor?
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled, and applicants selected for interviews will be duly notified. Please no inquiries or phone calls.
First Things Foundation is committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in both its staff and work.
The final applicant will be asked to undergo a background check before acceptance of the final offer.
We are pleased to announce that Leonard Umeh has signed on as a financial manager. Leonard is an essential part of our small but growing FTF volunteer corps. Without Leonard and folks like him, we could not keep our culture vibrant and moving forward. Thank you Leonard for your service to our field workers and their clients; the suffering poor.
Please be sure to support Leonard as he supports FTF. He, like our impresarios, is an entrepreneur. Support his new venture Sunnick Insurance by clicking here. We recommend Leonard because he is good at his job. His attention to detail and commitment to getting things right compliment his desire to serve others. Oh, and congratulations to Leonard on his upcoming marriage!
We are excited to roll out our latest media from the field. Geena Pietromonaco, our very own FTF Media Director, has produced this very nice short film documenting some of what we do. Look for more from Geena and our impresarios soon. #sierraleone #georgianrepublic
And take a look at Ms. Pietromonaco and her work here.