Amazing volunteers committed to making impact at home and abroad!
Born and raised in South Africa, Riaan studied finance and has lived in a handful of countries across the globe. Currently, Riaan lives in California with his wife and two daughters and works at Netflix. In 2018 he took some time away from work to reflect and realized that just contributing to communities with donations wasn’t enough. Shortly after that he met Fadi, one of the founders of V2I, who shared details about their goal of helping to break the cycle of poverty by sharing skills and 2 weeks later I signed up for volunteer work during March 2019 in Rwanda.
A big takeaway from the experience was that donating money or possessions do not compare to the value in giving your personal time to do volunteer work. Face-to-face, unfiltered interaction allowed for some meaningful discussions about how Riaan's skills could be helpful. Riaan really enjoyed working with the positive and well organized V2I group and other volunteers. Most of all, it was really great to share the experience with his family. Riaan also appreciates the life lessons it taught his kids and already sees the two of them interacting differently with one another.
Sean works as a MFG Design Engineer for Apple but wishes that his job could be to make the world more awesome. Sean grew up on the east coast but now lives in NorCal with his wife Ami and their dog Tucker. His life goal is to ball so hard.
Sean and his wife volunteered with Venture 2 Impact in Romania in 2018 and really enjoyed seeing the kids open up, become more vulnerable, come out of their shells, and show some happiness. Since volunteering in Romania, Sean has realized that there are a lot of people in the world who aren't very different from him who just need a little extra guidance and care!
If you ever want to play basketball, soccer, or any other sports and you’re in the Bay Area, hit Sean up!
Eric Maximilian, sometimes known as Eric and other times known as Max, grew up in Texas but currently lives outside of Seattle while he works on his masters degree and works for Microsoft. In the future, Max would like to return to medicine and use his technology skills to have a tangible impact on the health of many people.
Max joined the V2I team in Romania in 2018. He loved the time he spent interacting with the youth and young adults, hearing about their fears, interests, and experiences. Going to Romania helped Max to see bigger problems that exist in other places around the world and see that he can make a difference in small and big ways right now. Romania showed him that connection is vital, but also having the right TYPES of connection with caring people can create massive change even in small communities.
Fun fact: Max qualified for the Junior Olympics in Taekwondo in 2011.
Ami works as at Senior Analyst for Enterprise Sales Strategy and Operations at Salesforce in San Francisco, California. When Ami is not at work she can probably be found spending time with her husband Sean and their dog Tucker, cooking a delicious and healthy meal, or enjoying time with her friends and family. Her life goal is to share happiness.
Ami and her husband volunteered with Venture 2 Impact in Romania in 2018 and really enjoyed building relationships and connecting with the youth and young adults. Volunteering with V2I has helped Ami to step back and think outside of the Silicon Valley bubble. Volunteering is not a distraction from more important work, it IS the most important work. Volunteering in Romania also helped Ami to realize that the world is smaller than we think, and regardless of where we come from, we are more alike than we are not alike.
Ami is always down to meet new friends, volunteer, share stories and just get out there to do some good!
Will is currently working as a Senior Software Engineer at Salesforce in the Vancouver, Canada office. When away from his computer at work, he enjoys traveling, spending time with his wife, improving their first house, and playing board games. He also really enjoys Star Trek and loved getting to meet all of his childhood role models when he went to his first Star Trek convention in 2017.
Will grew up in Edmonton, Canada and moved to Vancouver after he finished school. He loves everything about Vancouver: the mountains, ocean, and temperate climate. Will finds Vancouver to be a really cool place because in April you can walk to the beach in shorts and then drive for 30 minutes into the mountains and go snowboarding.
Before going on his first trip with V2I, Will had heard a lot about volunteer abroad organizations and had planned on volunteering with one with his wife. After looking over the different options, he found that V2I had a location that was interesting to him (Romania) and their mission was not just about building something physical but about being integrated in and working with the community. He also appreciated that V2I is integrated well with his company Salesforce and their volunteer time off (VTO) structure.
Will volunteered with V2I in July 2017 in Baia Mare, Romania. He found it to be an awesome and rewarding experience! He really enjoyed working with the disadvantaged youth and young adults to teach English and computer skills. Going there to teach job skills was just the surface though. He really felt the team made a big impact on the youth, giving them confidence and courage to make a great life for themselves.
Kate is working at Salesforce in the Dublin office. Her background is in architecture, and she has always had an interest in development. Kate is working in sales now, and volunteering with Venture 2 Impact has allowed her to pursue her development interest as well as develop new skills. Kate was drawn to V2I initially through the focus on skills-based volunteering, and she also loved the Ideaforce concept. Ideaforce was a hack-a-thon style project where V2I collected data from community members about their challenges and struggles and invited a multi-disciplinary team to weed through the data and come up with solutions to address the challenges. The reason Kate continues to be involved is because of the passion of Venture 2 Impact has for development on every project- not only developing the people and areas they work with, but also in developing the volunteers and Venture 2 Impact themselves. Kate volunteered in Indonesia in 2017 with V2I and hopes to go back there again.
Traci was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and in 2009 she bought one of the houses she grew up in. Traci spends a lot of time and energy on her home because it holds so many good memories and has helped make her who she is today. Education is and always will be a priority for Traci. She has completed 3 degrees so far - Bachelor's in Political Science, Associates in Visual Journalism, and a Master's in Strategic Communications. Traci hopes to someday complete a doctorate that spins off her master's thesis of how if more women held positions in sports media it could change sports culture and ultimately change America's view on women. She is not currently enrolled in school now so she gets her educational fill through traveling. Traci loves to learn about other cultures through first-hand exposure. She is fascinated with how other people work and live and ultimately survive. Traci travels for both pleasure and volunteer efforts, and has traveled to Uganda and Indonesia with Venture 2 Impact to learn about systemic poverty in developing countries. Traci continues to work with V2I because they have taught her that there are all sorts of types of poverty, and developed countries often suffer from poverty of happiness and fulfillment. Traci hopes to continue to learn about poverty of all forms and use her knowledge to help others from suffering, whether it be in a developing country or within her own community.
Dumitru grew up in Romania and Sandra grew up in the Netherlands but they both now live and work in Dublin Ireland as an assistant bar manager and Sales Enablement Manager EMEA at Salesforce, respectively.
Sandra and Dumitru volunteered with V2I in Romania in 2018. They were interested in working with kids and young adults who grew up in orphanages, who had a very difficult start in life, exploring a new part of Romania and giving back to a country they both appreciate and love! Once in Romania, they loved every interaction they had. Their initial mission was to go to Romania and teach, help and volunteer with all activities... but it was actually the other way around... the kids and young adults taught them. The welcome Sandra and Dumitru received, the stories and experiences the youth and young adults shared with them was overwhelming, in a very good way.
They highly recommend that everyone volunteers at least once in their life... travel, meet people you would normally not get to talk to, get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the experience. You’ll learn so much about other cultures and at the same time you’ll discover a lot about yourself too... your strengths , weaknesses, feelings and emotions. You learn how to have compassion for others and live life to the full... Plus, it would make this world a better place to live in if we all do our part. And if you're able to volunteer with your partner, Dumitru and Sandra highly recommend it. They found that being able to share and talk about each day together, the joys and the emotional and sad moments, was very helpful. Volunteering together meant that each person could more easily understand what the other person was seeing and experiencing which was so valuable to them both.
In 2014, Samira volunteered in Uganda to help build a wall enclosure around a school and invest in the local children. Ever since, she has continued to donate her time and skills as a Graphic Designer to help Venture 2 Impact continue to reach new volunteers and grow their impact. Originally from the east coast of Canada, Samira now resides on the west coast with her husband and new pup...sooo, you'll likely find her walking the dog or running after it.
Jenn works as a registered massage therapist and a yoga teacher in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her life goal is simplicity.
Jenn went to India with V2I to work with Anugrah, teaching staff and community members the benefits of and how to use massage therapy to support children with disabilities living in poverty. One of Jenn's favorite things about V2I is the concept of skill-building through sharing knowledge.
If conventional costs of living did not exist, and her work (which she loves) was not a requirement for the procurement of food and shelter, Jenn would devote her life to Venture 2 Impact and the work they do. As one of her greatest teachers says: you are dealing in magic.
Carla lives in California with her husband and best friend, two daughters (age 9 and 11), dogs and chickens. In short, she was born in South Africa to a family of entrepreneurs, worked to pay for university and has decades of experience in Finance. Currently, Carla spends most of her time homeschooling her two girls.
V2I found Carla's husband at work and after some research, the family set off for Rwanda. Carla really appreciated that V2I strives to empower communities instead of merely contributing resources. She also commends V2I for a well-organized schedule that allowed for a week full of volunteer work and rich conversation. Throughout the experience, the whole family felt right at home by the family-friendly and positive tone set by V2I and the volunteers.
During their family debrief, it was clear that the whole family missed Rwanda, especially the people. The experience has brought about a renewed appreciation of the importance of community, committed social workers, and the need for meaningful volunteer work. The impact on the kids has also been invaluable. In the words of our youngest, “you really learn a lot when you travel."
Anne works as a Project Manager at Salesforce in Seattle, Washington. When Anne is not working, she enjoys pursuing her life goals of becoming an amateur French pastry chef and a skilled mountain climber.
Anne has volunteered with Venture 2 Impact in Uganda, Indonesia, and India. She enjoys volunteering with V2I because of the winning combination of an inspiring and passionate team and the mission to help communities in poverty. Volunteering with V2I has been a very eye-opening experience. Anne has been exposed to a variety of cultures, beliefs systems, and communities very different from her own and has become a more objective and mindful person as a result.
Brent is a 4th year criminology and sociology student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He is also a member of the varsity men’s basketball team at Saint Mary’s. After completing his undergraduate degree he plans on working towards a law degree with the hope of working for either the Canadian government or for the military.
Brent chose to get involved with Venture 2 Impact because he believes that every person deserves the same opportunities and privileges that he has been lucky enough to receive thus far in his life. He enjoys travelling and meeting new people, and he thought that it would be more beneficial to all parties involved if he went somewhere and tried to contribute rather than sitting somewhere on a beach.
“I had one of the greatest experiences of my life when I travelled to Baia Mare, Romania this past summer with Venture 2 Impact. It was such a positive trip, and I am already planning on not only returning to Romania, but also adding new destinations to my bucket list,” Brent says.
Volunteering has always been part of Patti Graham's sincerely held belief set.
"Volunteering is what enhances a community. It allows everyone the ability to contribute in their own special way to making our world a tiny bit better every day," says Patti.
With Venture 2 Impact, Patti participated in the 2016 and 2017 trips to Indonesia and is a passionate advocate for all things V2I. She also volunteers with a Greyhound adoption program and has been on the board with the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival for over 10 years in her hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick. With a background as a florist, a radio salesperson, and a consultant to name a few, Patti now works at Salesforce as a Principal Contracts Renewals Manager, which she assures us is way more fun than it sounds.
Patti fills her down time walking her two ex-racer greyhounds, drawing, swimming, and having fun with her two grown daughters and husband, Alan.
Anna works in technology in Melbourne, Australia. She enjoys all things revolving around food, binge-watching tv series, and her adorable kitten Nara. She has a mantra of trying everything at least once (within reason of course!), so she always seems to find herself on sporadic adventures and taking on new challenges...which can sometimes be a bit scary. Anna will also never turn down an invitation for cocktails, especially at an underground or hidden laneway bar which is what Melbourne is known for.
Anna has lived in Melbourne for almost 7 years now but grew up and did all of her schooling in New Zealand. Anna is a proud Kiwi, but she made the move across the ditch for better job opportunities after university. The first job she happened to land turned out to be Anna’s dream job at Salesforce (originally ExactTarget).
At Salesforce, employees are lucky enough to have time off every year to volunteer with organizations that are close to their hearts. Anna chose Venture 2 Impact because a colleague recommended them. After hearing stories of great adventures, Anna couldn't help but get involved and experience a new way of volunteering while also being able to travel at the same time.
Anna volunteered in Romania in 2017 and is looking forward to her next venture and where it will take her!
My name is Sam and I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I currently live in San Francisco and work in marketing. I volunteered with V2I in Rwanda specifically because of the emphasis on matching skillset with volunteer activity. I felt like I personally was able to make a lasting and meaningful impact.
Teo was born in Romania and received an art high-school and biology bachelor’s degree there. Then, Teo moved to Atlanta, Georgia for work and met her husband Ryan who was also working in Atlanta at the time. Together, they now live in Penniac, New Brunswick, Canada. Teo dedicates her life to art, volunteering, fitness, and travel.
Teo was first introduced to Venture 2 Impact through her husband Ryan who went to Uganda with V2I. Ryan had a great experience and felt like the V2I team of volunteers made a valuable impact on the community. Together, Ryan and Teo decided to volunteer with another V2I project in Indonesia and for Teo to experience the V2I team and volunteering abroad. After the week in Indonesia, Teo knew she wanted a V2I team to be involved in her home country, Romania, so she and Ryan did the legwork and made the connections to make it happen. Teo is still involved in leading the V2I project in Romania and loves getting to share her country and culture with other volunteers.
Allyson grew up in Minnesota, and after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Public Health, she moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to work for The Navigators. With The Navigators, Allyson serves as the chaplain for the Saint Mary's University women's hockey team. Through her work with The Navigators, Allyson got connected with Venture 2 Impact. She was excited to be part of V2I's work because, due to her background in public health, she values when organizations come in and evaluate needs first and then, based on that information, do something that positively impacts a community. She sees V2I doing just that. Allyson has volunteered with Venture 2 Impact in Romania and was instrumental in developing the English curriculum for that project. Currently, Allyson is also serving the Venture 2 Impact team by acting as their social media point person and enjoys creating greater awareness about what V2I is doing.
Marlene is from Florida, but is living in Halifax for 2 years to work for the Navigators. She works in the North End of Halifax as a program developer and director to guide youth into a brighter future. Through her work with the Navigators, she began her involvement with Venture 2 Impact. She has been on V2I trips to Romania and India and has greatly cherished those experiences.
Marlene’s lifelong goal is to empower and uplift communities through education, innovation, and the power of “coming together”. She admits that she still has a lot to learn, but she is eager to stay involved with V2I because of the way they think about and do development. It’s thoughtful and authentic.
“I don’t know where I’ll be in the next 10 years, but I know I’ll want to continue making an impact wherever I am.”
Nikolas recently graduated from Saint Mary's University in Halifax with a Bachelor of Commerce Major in Economics with Honours. He is enrolled at the McGill Faculty of Law for September 2018. Later in life, Nikolas hopes to operate a social and economic justice focused NGO.
Nikolas went to India with a V2I in 2018 and returned in the summer as well to help put the business plan the team created for Anugrah into action. Nikolas appreciates V2I's focus and commitment to facilitating real impactful change in communities and is grateful to be part of the work.