Category Archives: Who Are The Vigilantes?

Meet the Vigilantes of Kindness. Hear their stories. Be inspired.

Meet Becca McKinnon: Teacher, Photographer, Vigilante

Happy Cyber Monday, Vigilantes. I’m told today is the best day for shopping for Christmas presents online. In the land of teachers, today is known more as, Please-God-Let-My-Students-Have-Gone-To-Bed-At-A-Reasonable-Hour-Last-Night-Day.

I digress.

Since it is Cyber Monday, I wanted to let you know of some ways you can shop online while also supporting Vigilante Kindness. You can, of course, buy any of the remaining paper bead jewelry, paintings or poetry anthologies from our store. You can also buy Bravelets bracelets or shop at AmazonSmile.

But there’s one more way you can shop online while supporting the work we do at VK. We’re big on using our gifts to serve others and I love when you email, message, call, stop me in the grocery store and tell me about your gifts and talents and how you want to use them to partner with us. Seriously, few things make me happier than when the work we love to do collides with what your gifts and talents.

Enter Becca McKinnon.

You know her as half of the couple who shoved money in my hand before I left for Uganda the second time with the directions to “find a kid in need.” That money became a mattress for a kid in need.

Becca teaches with me, poor thing, but her passion is taking photographs. She takes photos that leave me awestruck. Seriously, just look at this one of Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock by Becca McKinnon
Balanced Rock by Becca McKinnon

I can’t even talk about the photos she snapped of my favorite oak tree on Millville Plains Road.

So when Becca asked me if she could donate part of the proceeds of her photo sales to Vigilante Kindness, I was definitely on board. When she said she wanted to give Vigilante Kindness 50% of the proceeds, I nearly passed out. She actually asked if 50% would be enough and it was all I could do to sputter out, “Y-y-y-yes, fifty percent is more than enough.”

So on this Cyber Monday, while I’m wrangling sleep-deprived children, take a minute to pop over to Becca’s site. Even if you somehow have superhero willpower and don’t purchase anything, you’ll be glad to see the beauty Becca captures through the lens of her camera.

Thanks, Becca, and thanks to all of you Vigilantes who use your gifts and talents to partner with VK in doing the work we love.

Want to be a Vigilante?

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2015 is winding down and for Vigilante Kindness, that means we’re gearing up for a new year in wild adventures of Vigilante Kindness and we’d like you to join us. As we prepare for the new projects God is calling us to in Uganda, we’re looking to expand our Board of Directors to meet our growing needs and perhaps you’ve been looking for something more to do with your life, too.

Vigilante Kindness is currently looking for volunteers who possess talents in the areas of:

  • finance & accounting
  • personnel & human resources
  • administration, management & leadership
  • fundraising & grant writing
  • web design
  • non-profit experience
  • community service
  • project & policy development
  • public relations & communication
  • education & instruction
  • special events
  • outreach & advocacy
  • art instruction

If you’re interested in being on the Board of Directors, please email your completed Vigilante Kindness Board Application to Alicia at vigilantekindness@gmail.com.  Tell us a little bit about yourself, what your special gifts and talents are and why you’re interested in being on the board.

If you’re interested in becoming more involved in Vigilante Kindness, but becoming a director isn’t your thing,  or maybe you don’t see your skill set listed above, we want you, too.  Maybe you paint.  Or write.  Or take photographs.  Or ride your bike really far.  Or knit hats and scarves.  Or make jewelry.  Or make music.  Or make jam.  Or teach Zumba.  Or cut hair.  Whatever your gifts and talents are, we recognize them as something valuable, we recognize you as someone who is valued.  We see you.  We want you to join in our wild adventures of Vigilante Kindness.

Malea’s Good Name

In the darkening Gulu evening, my son, Opiyo Martin, and I stood outside, our bellies full of pork and cassava. I smiled at the laughter coming from my mom and my other sons, Otim Geoffrey and Oryem William, seated only a few feet away, their bellies full of pork and cassava, too.

I kept Martin aside for a few minutes. On our walk back from dinner we’d been talking about the chicken farm project and I told him about the people who had donated to make their chicken farm a reality.

“Opiyo, I have to tell you the story of Malea, a darling, blond-haired, six-year-old girl from my city. She loves swimming, she collects rocks and shells, and she’s one of your chicken farm donors.”

I began to tell Martin Malea’s story and his singular response was, “Oh my God, Mum, oh my God, oh my God.” His words weren’t the bubblegum OMG, used so often today. They were reverent, a sacred recognition of the providence of God.

Before I tell you the story, grab a mug of your favorite something, put your phone on silent, and sit down for five minutes to read Malea’s story. You’ll be glad you did.

A few weeks ago Malea’s mom, Anna, Facebooked this photo of Malea, who had emptied out her piggy bank with the express purpose of using her money to help someone in need. Anna was searching for an avenue for Malea to do just that. I told her about Vigilante Kindness, specifically about our chicken farm project because Malea’s savings would be nearly enough to purchase two chickens. Anna talked it over with Malea and Malea agreed that buying a pair of chickens was a worthy use of her eight dollars and change.

Can’t you just picture her sorting precious dimes and pennies, smoothing out her dollar bills and counting it all up? See that envelope Malea is holding in the photo? She made it and tucked her money carefully inside. It gets me every darn time.

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As if that wasn’t enough, a couple of days before I left for Uganda, Anna texted me and asked if there was still time for Malea to donate. I told her yes, that I was making a final deposit of a few last local donations that same day.

Malea had sold rocks and shells from her collection. She’d sold enough of her collection to buy herself a new toy and to buy a third chicken. A third chicken. I can’t even.

Sometimes I can’t believe I get to be part of this work, this work where piggy bank dimes and a little girl’s rocks and shell collection become chickens for a chicken farm in Uganda, a farm that will allow my sons and other students to earn their own school fees and to tithe chickens to take care of widows and orphans.

Never in my life could I have dreamed up such a thing.

I understand Martin’s response to Malea’s story because it’s been the entirety of my prayer life this past week. I’m overwhelmed both by your generosity, sweet Vigilantes, and the providence of God working through you. In the face of such sacrifice and such kindness, I, too am lost for words save for, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.”

Malea picked out names for her chickens. Her third chicken will be named Jasmine. Her second chicken will be named, Chickaketta, which is quite possibly the most perfect chicken name ever. Her first chicken will be named, Malea, because, in the words of a blond six-year-old who loves swimming and now has a much smaller rock and shell collection, “Malea is a good name.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Amazon Smile for Vigilante Kindness

Amazon Smile for Vigilante KindnessWe’re over the moon to announce that Amazon Smile has decided to partner with Vigilante Kindness.  That means all that shopping you love to do on Amazon can now benefit Vigilante Kindness.  How does it work?

Bookmark this link and use it each time you want to purchase something from Amazon.  Then Amazon automatically donates 0.5% of your purchase to Vigilante Kindness.  It’s as easy as that.

Unfortunately, you can’t yet use Amazon Smile through the Amazon app.  So if you shop on Amazon through your iPhone or iPad, please be sure to bookmark our Amazon Smile link on your internet browser and shop through Amazon Smile that way.

Would you do us one more favor?  Please share our Amazon Smile link with your family and friends.

As always, thanks so much for your kindness and support.

Garage Sale for Vigilante Kindness: May 1 & 2

Here at Vigilante Kindness we’re big on using our gifts in service of others and we’re big on people who like to do the same.  My lone gift is writing.  I don’t say that so that you’ll hammer out comments about other gifts you might think I have.  I say it in all honesty and with a truckload of gratitude.  Thank God He gave me a gift and opportunities to use it.

Laura, our Treasurer, has a gift with numbers.  She makes spreadsheets so beautiful, they make my head spin.

Colin, our Secretary, gets behind a camera and finds beauty everywhere.

Today I want you to meet LuEllyn, one of our Vigilantes of Kindness.  She’s the kind of woman who jumps in with both feet, so I like her a lot.  She sponsors one of our Work Study Scholars, but one of LuEllyn’s gifts is organizing people to take action.  She’s also a master at organizing stuff.

garage-sale3So it didn’t surprise me at all when LuEllyn offered to hold a garage sale with 100% of the proceeds going to Vigilante Kindness.  It also didn’t surprise me when I asked how I could help and she responded that she’s got it all taken care of.  Of course she does.  She’d already rallied her Canasta group and given them their marching orders.

There is one thing LuEllyn and her Canasta ladies need in order to make this garage sale a success.  They need your stuff to sell.  Maybe the spring cleaning bug has hit you and you’ve got a bag or two of things that need to find new homes.  Would you consider donating them to our garage sale?

The garage sale is in Redding, CA. on May 1st and 2nd, so items can be donated anytime between now and then.  Shoot me an email (vigilantekindness@gmail.com) and I’ll set up at time to come pick up your donation.

Thanks to LuEllyn and her Canasta Club for supporting Vigilante Kindness!  Thanks to all of you who are going to tackle your cupboards, closets and garages to help us do good things for and with the people we love in Uganda.

Fondly,

Alicia

Chickens, Of Course

My phone had been pinging all day long.  As I walked to my car that afternoon, I checked my messages and laughed at the group conversation my boys had been having while I was at work.  Normally I loathe group texts, group conversations and the straight EVIL that is the Reply All button.

But the conversation between my boys tickled me.  I struggled to translate their conversation from Acoli into English, but when I did, I saw that there were 28–yes, 28–messages about land prospects for the chicken farm, feed providers, which farmer they’ll buy the initial chicks from, etc.

There were also teasing barbs, typical brotherly ribbing.  Can I just tell you how much my heart loves the teasing they do?  My formerly orphaned boys tease each other like brothers do and it’s music to my ears.

I read along as their messages progressed into the evening in Uganda and when they settled down for the night and messaged a chorus of I love yous to each other, it was all I could do to scoop my puddled heart up off the floor.

Because of you, Vigilantes, my boys were starting to see that their Chicken Farm Project wasn’t just a dream.

Me?  I wish I had their faith.  I’d spent the previous night looking at the Chicken Farm Project donation thermometer, incredibly grateful for the $51 that had been donated, but also trying to come up with ways to make that thermometer fill up to the tippy top.

Fundraising Thermometer Widget ~ Fundraising Thermometer Graphic-2

Little did I know, on that very night, as I sat trying to think of ways to make this project happen, and the following morning as my boys chattered away about all things chicken, a Vigilante woman was praying about my boys and their future chicken farm.

This woman has asked to remain anonymous, so let me tell you just a little about her.  She’s a cancer survivor.  She volunteers at her local hospital.  She takes in foster kids.  She loves with her heart wide open.

After I finished translating the 28 messages from my boys, I received this message from this Vigilante woman.

After thinking and praying about this last night and today, I have decided to send you a check for $950 to fund the chicken project.  I’m impressed with the guys and their determination in coming up with an idea, a business plan, and a way to help others.”

Insert record scratch here.

Wait, what???

I read her message again.  She’d decided to fund the remainder of the ENTIRE CHICKEN FARM PROJECT.

I called her immediately and before the first ring, I was crying, snot dripping, mascara running, ugly crying.  I left her a blubbering voicemail and then called my mom, who cried right along with me.

I still laugh at the whole idea of this chicken farm.  Really, God?  You want me, the girl who is terrified of birds, to help my boys start a chicken farm in Uganda?  Chickens?  Really?  Of course. God’s sense of humor is obviously fully in tact.

God’s sense of compassion is also fully in tact.  I know this to be true because three formerly orphaned boys have not only taken up residence in my heart, but in your hearts, too.

My boys still struggle with the residual pain of being orphaned. Of being left by parents who died too young. Of being unloved. Of being treated like dogs. Of being children left to fend for themselves on the streets. Of being unclaimed.

I sit here fighting back tears again because you, sweet Vigilantes, whether you donated a single penny or a lot of pennies, have claimed me, claimed my boys, and claimed a whole lot of chickens, too.

Thank you.  Thank you so much.

Want to see something wonderful before you go?

Fundraising Thermometer Widget ~ Fundraising Thermometer Graphic

 

Meet Laura, our Vigilante Kindness Treasurer

Hey, Vigilantes, Alicia here.  I’m excited to introduce you to Laura Gore, the newly appointed Treasurer of Vigilante Kindness.  If you followed along when I was blogging at Pedals and Pencils, you know Laura as That Laura. As in Laura who teaches archery to blind kids?  Yes, that Laura.  Laura who once inherited a cat named Little Baby Jesus?  Yes, that Laura.  Laura who convinced me to ride 200 miles from Seattle to Portland?  Yes, that Laura. That Laura also loves making spreadsheets and analyzing and collecting data.  All I have to say about that is thank God there are people out there who speak math.  Here’s a little more about Laura.

LauraTreasurer: Laura Gore
  • In Real Life: Laura has been on both sides of funding streams, working for funders as well as grantees.  Currently she works as a Research Program Specialist with the California Department of Health and Human Services.  Laura enjoys spending time at home with her two hilarious dogs, Skeeter and Sting.  She also loves to travel and once took road trip with the sole purpose of seeing the longest continuous burning lightbulb, the site of a crashed UFO, and the Computer History Museum.
  • Gifts & Talents: Laura finds crunching numbers fun and is used to receiving strange looks when she gets excited and rambles on about data. Her other gifts include seizing opportunities, hunting down answers, and being very, very persuasive.
  • Things You Never Needed to Know: Laura was a competitive archer and has taken first at many archery shoots.  She has ridden a bicycle from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with her father.  She once served a two-minute stint in solitary confinement at Alcatraz.