Maine Student Named Outstanding Youth Philanthropist
(April 13, 2010) Jake Gallagher, a 19-year old young man from Yarmouth, Maine, who has been instrumental in raising awareness about and funds for poor children in Guatemala, is the recipient of the 2010 Changing Our World/Simms Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Ages 18-23, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
The award, named after AFP co-founder William R. Simms and sponsored by Changing Our World, recognizes service by an individual who demonstrates outstanding commitment to the community through direct financial support, development of charitable programs, volunteering and leadership in philanthropy. Gallagher will receive the honor on April 13, 2010, at the Awards for Philanthropy Banquet during AFP's 47th International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore.
In the sixth grade, Gallagher heard about a charity called Safe Passage, which provides educational and other life opportunities to children and families who live and work around the Guatemala City garbage dump. The organization was founded by Hanley Denning, a native of Yarmouth. Inspired by what he heard, Gallagher immediately began a school drive to collect supplies for the children and soon had his family's living room packed with supplies. The drive was so successful that he continued to hold drives for five years, raising record amounts and garnering media attention to the Safe Passage cause.
Gallagher eventually traveled to Guatemala to experience Safe Passage first-hand and to meet his family's two sponsored children. After his first trip, he wanted to return to volunteer with a group of students and parents from Yarmouth High School. Several of the families involved with that second trip decided to become sponsors for a Safe Passage child as well. Back in Maine, Gallaher attended meetings at local churches to encourage others to make the journey to volunteer in Guatemala. He has returned to Guatemala to volunteer a total of five times over the past six years.
Gallagher later helped start a Safe Passage Club at Yarmouth High School and helped grow the club throughout his time there. The Yarmouth High School club, now part of the Global Action Club, currently involves 20 to 25 students and has supported the Sage Passage U.S. office by assisting with mailings, packing donations, assisting with events and raising more than $10,000 over the past three years. Inspired by the Yarmouth club, three other high schools also created Safe Passage Clubs.
"What got me started helping out Safe Passage was the thought that kids my age had to live such harsh lives," said Gallagher. "Now that I have been down five times and gotten a chance to get to know my family's sponsored kids, I am even more committed to making sure that they end up better off. Safe Passage has shown me that I am lucky in many ways. I am lucky to have all of the opportunities that I have, and I am also lucky to be able be a part of a project that helps hundreds of people every day."
Supported by Gallagher's efforts to raise awareness about Safe Passage in his community, the number of children served by Safe Passage has grown from 225 to more than 550. Now a student at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., Gallagher hopes to start a Safe Passage Club there and lead a group of students to Guatemala to work directly with the children there.
"We at Changing Our World are proud to salute and recognize Jake and his commitment to Safe Passage and wish him the best in his future work", said Michael Hoffman, Chairman and CEO of Changing Our World, Inc.
In January 2007, Denning (the founder of Safe Passage) was killed in a car accident. Gallagher responded by raising all the money (nearly $2,000) for a memorial in her honor. In June 2009, the Hanley Denning Memorial, a bench and garden, was dedicated in the courtyard of Yarmouth High School.
"Too often we hear that the youth of today are not engaged in world issues, but Jake Gallagher is living proof that young people can not only get involved, but have a huge impact when they do," said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO. "Obviously, Jake's fundraising is incredibly impressive, but even moreso is his ability to inspire others to get involved. It's an amazing quality, and all of us at AFP commend Jake for his accomplishments and character."
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The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents 30,000 members in 207 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. For more information, go to www.afpnet.org.
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Changing Our World (www.changingourworld.com) is one of the leading international philanthropic consulting firm providing individualized solutions in all areas of fundraising and philanthropy.. With headquarters in New York and offices in London, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Boston, Changing Our World raises tens of millions of dollars annually for nonprofit clients, and assists corporations, foundations, and individuals in achieving their goals in philanthropy.