Meet Lauren: Our Community Outreach Intern

blog pictureName: Lauren Wright

Hometown: Chesterton, IN

Current Location: Denver, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven?

I was drawn to Edge of Seven because the organization combines my two passions: helping others and
traveling. Ever since I was very young, I have been extremely interested in global issues. After spending
time in Tanzania in 2011, I realized that my passion for international development had grown. Edge of
Seven’s foundation, which focuses on bettering the lives of women overseas, represents all of my core
values and encompasses what I look for in an international nonprofit.

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven?

I am the Community Outreach Intern and a member of the Events Advisory Committee. As the Community Outreach Intern, I focus on spreading the word about our programs, projects, and international volunteer opportunities in Nepal and Tanzania. Also, one of my main objectives as the Community Outreach Intern is to foster student relationships on college and university campuses and identify potential collaborations. As a member of the Events Advisory Committee, I am helping to coordinate Edge of Seven’s annual fundraising event in October and other community events in Denver and beyond.

Introducing Alli: Edge of Seven’s Marketing and Communications Intern

302039_2425050903073_1652103587_nAlli Tolbert

Hometown: Wilmette, IL

Current Location: Denver, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven? After graduating with a degree in International Studies and Spanish, I wanted to continue my work in international development, more specifically a start-up in Denver. I was drawn to Edge of Seven’s model of collaborative nonprofit work, and especially inspired by its mission of providing education access to girls. My recent research project in a rural village of Bolivia allowed me to work with a group of women weavers and study the potential markets for rural artisans. The toughness and determination of these women exemplified how much women make up the backbone of a society, yet lack educational opportunities. Being with Edge of Seven since August has been a great transition for me in that I can further contribute to the movement for girls’ education. Edge of Seven is truly making an impact in the communities they work, and it is very motivating as an individual to be a part of such endeavors.

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven? As Marketing & Communications intern, I have recently worked with the Director to create a strategy for a revenue-generating handicrafts program, Sapana Bags, to sell and market handwoven bags from a women’s cooperative in Nepal. It has been very exciting to design, market and sell bags that benefit the women and their children’s education. I’ve also been working on general communications, marketing and public relations strategies and efforts, being particularly busy in talking with people about our upcoming trips to Nepal and Tanzania.

Introducing Erika: Edge of Seven’s New Grants and Development Intern

   Welcome to the Edge of Seven team!

  Name: Erika Schlichter

  Hometown: Norfolk, VA

  Current Location: Denver, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven?  In short: the mission   statement.  Throughout my academic career, I’ve become increasingly drawn to both local and global issues that disproportionately impact women and girls.  My ongoing graduate study in international human rights has increased my awareness of how development initiatives directly influence the human rights environments in particular communities and regions, especially with regard to gendered power relations.  From interning at a community radio station for women in Dakar, Senegal to working as a counselor and assistant director at an all-girls camp in Virginia, my experiences working to develop the full potential of girls and women have been my most fulfilling ones.  I’m thrilled at the opportunity to be part of such a dedicated and driven team!

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven? As Grants and Development Intern, I am exploring innovative ways to generate support for Edge of Seven’s mission and projects, within the framework of our annual fundraising strategy.  I am also helping to explore and build new partnerships with like-minded organizations, on a scale ranging from the local to the global.

To contribute to Edge of Seven’s ongoing effort to empower women and girls worldwide, please visit our website!

A Night to “Toast to the Girls”

By Josi Toothman, Edge of Seven Guest Blogger

Welcome- photo credit Anne Bannister

Over 100 people came out Thursday June 28th to Battery 621 in Denver for the “Toast to the Girls” event, raising $3,000 for Edge of Seven’s Community Development Program. After an initial welcome from Edge of Seven Director Emily Stanley and board member Julia Alvarez, those who attended mingled, shared stories of social impact, and ate delicious food. Sherpa House in Golden, Nepal India Oven and Lalas provided appetizers, while Great Divide, Funkwerks, and Infinite Monkey Theorem, Classic Wines, sponsored beverages.  The energy in the room was filled with both excitement and curiosity as attendants who had previously been involved with Edge of Seven discussed their experiences with those still learning about the organization. Phrases like, “Lifechanging”, “Absolutely Incredible”, and “So Beautiful,” could be heard as those who had previously volunteered with Edge of Seven described their experience in Nepal.

Delicious- photo credit Anne Bannister

In between the socializing and educating Edge of Seven drew tickets for winners of various raffle prizes. The raffle was a great success with individual prizes including one month free yoga from Core Power, gift certificates from Linger, skirts for outdoor girls from Jen-ai Skirts, and ski poles from Icelantic, to name a few.  The grand prize of the evening was a one night stay and dinner at the Oxford.

The premiere of “The Mountain Between Us” photo credit Anne Bannister

Midway through the evening Edge of Seven debuted their recently produced short film, The Mountain Between Us, a documentary which gives a glimpse into the lives and struggles of women in rural Nepal and the opportunities created for them by projects completed by organizations like Edge of Seven. Everyone watched in silence as Junu and Purnima, two young women featured in the film, talked about their desire to continue their education and their dreams to help their villages.

At the end of the evening Katie Donahue, who has been involved with Edge of Seven for the past year, and who recently volunteered on Edge of Seven’s Basa project in Nepal, came to the stage to deliver the toast that had brought everyone together. Katie spoke of her experience working with children with big dreams who but faced many obstacles. Katie told how, like most people at the event, she was told she could be whatever she wanted to be when she grew up and was encouraged to pursue her dreams. It was a reminder to everyone that many children in the developing world, especially girls, grow up knowing that their dreams of becoming a ballerina, firefighter, or pilot may always be just that, dreams. It is by the efforts of organizations like Edge of Seven along with individual volunteers to educate and empower girls that they may be able to see their dreams become reality. With that, everyone raised their glass and gave a united, “Toast to the Girls.”

A Toast to the Girls – photo credit Anne Bannister

New Additions to Edge of Seven Team

This summer Edge of Seven is excited to add four new members to our team! Sara, Carly, Josi and Claire have joined us as interns and are helping to promote Edge of Seven’s work, put on events, and assist with fundraising.

Name: Sara Harper

Hometown: Rockville, MD

Current Location: Denver, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven? Edge of Seven works towards everything I care about. I am about to graduate with a degree that focuses on international development as well as human rights, so finding a non-profit that promotes both of those things was an instant match for me. I knew that I wanted to get involved, to see the inner working of an organization doing things of this magnitude, and to assist in the great goals Edge of Seven has set for itself. I firmly believe that change starts with the girls, as most rural (and otherwise) societies depend on the females to survive. So, doing good for the women does the whole population good. It is, in my opinion, an important strategic part of Edge of Seven which separates this organization from the rest.

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven? I’m the Event Coordinator, so I get to schedule fun events like happy hours and fundraisers with the help of the rest of the team of interns and volunteers. It’s a great way to be involved in Edge of Seven because I get the chance to meet everyone and collaborate, plus connect us to the wider Denver community and beyond to get the word out about our message and goals.

Name: Carly Wyman

Hometown: Longmont, Colorado

Current Location: Portland, Oregon and Longmont, Colorado

What drew you to Edge of Seven: As a student of international relations and a lover of travel, I am very interested in international development. Edge of Seven’s goals to better the lives of girls in developing countries align with my conception of responsible, community-driven development that will have long-lasting effects on the communities Edge of Seven touches. I love that Edge of Seven is female run and that they are still at the grassroots level. I feel so lucky to be here at the beginning of such a great organization!

What type of work do I do: I am the fundraising and development intern with Edge of Seven. I am working to reach out into our community to connect interested sponsors and volunteers with our work in a meaningful way. I am also helping to plan and execute some exciting events this summer!

Name: Josi Toothman

Hometown: Greenville, NC

Current Location: Littleton, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven? I loved the mission and the focus of the work that Edge of Seven is doing. Helping women in the developing world and promoting volunteer experiences is a way to help women and their communities, impact the lives of those who travel abroad and bring awareness to the issues that Edge of Seven is addressing in the lives of women around the world.

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven? I am working on the Marketing and Communications team for Edge of Seven. This summer I am helping with social media efforts, newsletters, press releases and blogs. I am excited to help get the word out about Edge of Seven, upcoming events, and updates on our projects!

Name: Claire Slattery-Quintanilla

Hometown: Del Norte, CO

Current Location: Denver, CO

What drew you to Edge of Seven? I have been passionate about gender inequality and international issues for a long time.   After spending four months abroad working at an organization that helped women escape the sex trade, I was inspired to continue working to empower women here and around the world.  Like this organization, I think that it is important to have a holistic approach to social issues.  I identified with Edge of Seven’s focus on gender inequality as the root of environmental, and economic, and social problems.

What type of work do you do with Edge of Seven? I have been working on a variety of tasks, many of which have been related to promoting Trek with a Purpose—a volunteer trek through the Everest Region that Edge of Seven is offering this fall. I also help maintain the database.  This August I will be working on a project where we will be partnering with the Africa Schools Assistance Project to construct a women’s dormitory in Tanzania. I’m really excited be a part of this group of passionate, like-minded individuals!

Connecting to Nepal

Reflections By Board Member Sarah Andrews

I can’t remember where I first saw the photo below of three young girls in rural Nepal using a frightening, trapeze-like pulley to cross a river on their way to school, but I do remember having a visceral reaction to it of disbelief and awe. In addition to being blown away by the peril that these girls have to face every day in order to get an education, I was impressed by their courage and determination. Not a personal fan of treacherous heights, I cannot honestly say where I might be today if as a child I had to face a tightrope above a raging river twice daily just to get to school. I can imagine, though, that blowing it all off and staying home would have sounded like a very appealing option.

    Photo Source: Global Giving

This past March when visiting the village of Basa in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal, where Edge of Seven is currently working with local organizations and members of the community to build a new higher secondary school, I had the opportunity to witness this kind of resolve in person. Arriving at the project site one very windy morning, I saw a cluster of girls gathered under a tree with their teacher. Because the village lacks enough classroom space for all the students, this lesson was taking place outdoors. It was a workable arrangement on that particular day, with skies sunny and temperatures cool, but one that would be completely impossible during monsoon season or the region’s extremely cold winters. (Edge of Seven’s new higher secondary school will provide enough classroom space for all of the students in the village.)

 Photo Source: Sarah Andrews

But the lack of legitimate desks and basic walls to block out the wind that ruffled the pages of their workbooks didn’t seem to bother the girls. They remained hunched, pencils-down over their papers, intent on absorbing all the information they could on this day when conditions were right for class to take place at all. In a country that is rife with weather inconsistencies and political strikes that close down schools, people learn to take full advantage of those moments where everything is in working order.

I’ve served on Edge of Seven’s board since its founding, and during that time I’ve been fortunate enough to volunteer on three of the organization’s projects, all of which have been initiated and driven by the communities themselves. For the past eight months, I have lived in Nepal and was able to assist on the Basa school project and the primary school that Edge of Seven and our local partner, The Small World, recently completed in the village of Phuleli. Despite the lack of electricity and consistently running water, I loved living in Nepal and am grateful for the opportunity it provided me to gain a wider understanding of a beautiful country that has over the years come to be like my second home.

While I can’t say that this wider understanding has led me to complete comprehension of how one might tackle all of the challenges facing people in Nepal, I can say that I feel more certain than ever that creating opportunities for education and empowerment, particularly for girls, is the best way toward progress and positive change in the country. That’s why I am proud to work with Edge of Seven and our local partners like The Small World who are tackling the issue at its roots by providing classroom infrastructure, scholarship assistance, additional teaching staff, and direct support to community-driven initiatives in rural Nepal.

I have been humbled more times than I can count by the determined spirits of the many young Nepali girls I’ve been blessed to meet over the years. And I’ve been inspired by the dreams that they have for their futures and the sacrifices they’re willing to make to make those dreams come true. I often wish I could have met these girls when I was their age. My younger self could have surely benefitted from the lessons my older self has learned from them.

I’m going to go ahead and risk sounding cheesy here by quoting a lyric from one of my favorite Arcade Fire songs, which says, “Every spark of friendship and love will die without a home.” I thought of it often in Nepal, because I think the same could be said about dreams. The dreams these girls have for their lives need to be nurtured and supported in order for them to become reality. When I see a completed Edge of Seven school or hostel, I don’t just see a building. I see a home for the hopes that the girls we work with have inside of them – a place where they can come out into the world and flourish.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @atxsarah.

A Catalyst for Collaboration – Meet Kassia

As part of a new series of blog posts, we are highlighting the work of Edge of Seven’s tireless, brilliant, and passionate volunteers, advisors, and board members. The work that we do empowering girls and building infrastructure abroad would not be possible without the network of support we have here domestically. Thank you Kassia for all that you’ve done for Edge of Seven this spring! Read Kassia’s inspiring story below on nonprofit collaboration, international travel,  healthy babies, and good communication …

Kassia in Nepal

Name: Kassia Binkowski

Hometown: Originally from Madison WI. Spent time in Africa, Latin America, the East Coast, and the Pacific Northwest, before “settling” back in Boulder. Next stop on my list: Cape Town, South Africa or Granada, Spain (it’s a toss up!).

Education: Master of Public Health from University of Washington, BA in International Development & Health from CU Boulder

MY STORY IN A NUT SHELL:  Motivated by the time I spent living and working at children’s homes in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, I am committed to  keeping mothers alive to care for their families. Plain and simple: with mom’s around fewer babies will die. That’s what I want.

While pursuing my MPH, however, I realized that determinants of health far exceed access to medicines and vaccines. More powerful than any prescription are the social determinants over which we have very little control: education, socioeconomic status, environment, etc. As it so happens, education and sanitation are more powerful predictors of nutrition than food distribution. For me, this realization was a game changer. Suddenly the success of my career could be measured not only by the clinics built or babies vaccinated, but also by scholarships distributed and hands washed, if you will. They playing field had been blown wide open!

So upon finishing my degree and moving back to Boulder I began pursuing a career to influence the social determinants of health in our world’s most marginalized communities. Some days that means I organize benefits for midwifery training programs, other days I design marketing materials for socially responsible tourism, and still other days are spent building constituencies for conservation projects. In the past five years I have contributed to programming, communications, and fundraising efforts of international development programs around the world; I have designed projects in Malawi, lived with orphans in Tanzania, studied with traditional healers in Ecuador, led fundraising efforts for Ugandan health workers, coordinated urban clinics in the United States, and researched maternal behavior in Guatemala.  Each of these experiences has only enriched my understanding of the complex choices facing mothers in resource constrained settings, and led me to work more creatively towards promoting health in these communities.

Kassia in Tanzania

WHAT DREW ME TO EDGE OF SEVEN: I am an international health professional, with a huge itch to travel and a need for constant adventure. With experience across Latin America and Africa, it should come as no surprise that I was drawn to Edge of Seven’s work in Asia combining experiential education, developing world adventure, and community development. Contributing to Edge of Seven presented the perfect opportunity to build out my existing skill sets in community development and creative communications in a brand new environment, Asia. What isn’t to love? Besides, I believe the organization is on the cusp of a very exciting growth spurt, and I’m excited to contribute to the identity development and constituency building that are requisite for success.

HOW DO I PLAN TO MAKE AN IMPACT: More than anything else I’ve seen, I’ve been infuriated and motivated by the isolation of individual organizations in the international development industry. Day in and day out we compete for grants only to accomplish the same goal: end poverty. If we all want the same thing, I believe there has to be a more efficient way to operate collectively, mobilizing individual strengths and leveraging our great networks to create more monumental and sustainable change in marginalized communities. I don’t know what the answer is, yet, but I think it’s 40% innovation, 40% collaboration, and 20% rigor. We need to think creatively but act effectively, and we can only do that if we put our minds – and moneys – together. Recently, I took a tiny step in that direction. I founded The Righters (www.the-righters.com) as an online forum for the voices of workers at the front lines of social movements. At just the beginning of a very big thing, right now The Righters is a place to swap stories and inspiration, and hopefully soon it will be a place to connect and learn as well. That’s what I hope to be remembered by – as a catalyst for collaboration in this industry so that we can finally keep all the mothers alive to care for all the babies!

In Morocco