The Power of Connection
Ellenore Angelidis, Executive Director
I was talking to a friend who is also an OHBD board member, about the human need to connect. We discussed how critiques and judgement cause us to want to defend ourselves and take away our opportunity to safely connect. OHBD progress these last weeks reminded me how amazing and powerful it is to associate closely with others. Our last event in 2020 was in Portland, early in the year before COVID-19 was a part of our daily reality. It was the result of my connection to Katie Bradley. We met virtually when she was waiting to bring her daughter home from Ethiopia and her art inspired me. She donated to our fundraising events and since has become one of our most popular illustrators.
She reached out to Lee Baughman, her art teacher, and he brought in his art classes to help create beautiful art with purpose for a number of Ready Set Go Books. This event was my chance to meet Lee and his team for first time. In chatting with him, I learned more about his passions beyond art. I suggested the sponsorship of a new book that combined Lee’s art and his role as pastor at his church. The new book, Wise and Foolish with his amazing art, was just published;see more below.
Mike Carr was a dear friend who supported our first efforts. Since his untimely passing, his family continues to support OHBD through the Mike Carr Legacy project. One of our new books, We are Better Together, was created as part of that project. This book was beautifully illustrated by a sculptor, Daniel Aklilu, with whom I connected via Facebook. He generously offered to illustrate a book for us, so I shared this wonderful story by Elizabeth Taylor, one of our volunteer authors who is a long-time friend of Jane Kurtz, our creative lead and another special friend.
Sultan Mohamed, one of our Board members, and I met when we were focused on fundraising events. He supported us in so many ways. He also introduced me to Lily Iyob who has volunteered with us since. He also recently connected us with Columbia Gallery which now carries our books along with amazing art and handcrafted items. Lily introduced us to Delish and we participated in first Seattle Ethiopian Day that Delish hosted in 2019, and we were thrilled to be back in 2021. All these beautiful connections and supporters reminded me of some important principles:
1. We are all connected, some of us just haven’t met yet
It is easy to lose sight of this without taking time to reflect and be grateful. You need to take the time to listen and learn in order to make these connections real and meaningful.
2. When we volunteer our talents, we learn and grow too.
I had no idea all of the wonderful people, experiences and insights that were ahead for me when I started on this journey. Volunteering has opened up so many possibilities to learn and grow, I find it hard to keep up with them at times.
3. Opening your world to people you wouldn’t usually meet opens up rich opportunities
My lived experience has benefited so much from travel, from being challenging and exposed to those with a different set of experiences. Founding and leading this organization has taken it to a whole other level and I look forward to more of the same.
4. The positive ripples keep growing and creating more ripples.
Every connection leads to more connections and each of them to more still. The impact continues to grow and expand in beautiful and unexpected ways. Thank you to so many who connected and connected us with others. We are excited to continue to use these ripples to benefit kids in Ethiopia and around the world.