Volunteering & Giving
December 8, 2015

Library comes to life in the Philippines

A Wells Fargo team member from Washington state collected 12,000 books and filled a library at a school in her native Philippines.

Before Kimrick Soltanzadeh took time off from her job in Washington state to visit the Don Herminio Maravilla Elementary School in the Philippines, the school had no library. After her weeklong visit, a one-room library opened with about 3,000 volumes — and three other local schools received the remaining 9,000 books.

 

Kimrick, a private banker in Bainbridge Island, received paid leave through Wells Fargo’s Volunteer Leave Program, and she used the time to convert a room into a library at the Don Herminio Maravilla Elementary School, just outside of Bacolod City, Philippines.

Kimrick and her father were born in the Philippines. Her parents met when her mother, an American, came there to teach math through the Peace Corps. Kimrick has volunteered at the school, which is named after her grandfather, since 2010 and previously helped build sidewalks near the classrooms.

The school “is where my heart is,” she says.

Kimrick collected the books from Wells Fargo team members and other members of her community.

A history of volunteering

Kimrick started volunteering about a decade ago. “To be a successful volunteer, passion for a cause is important,” Kimrick says. “Because children can’t speak for themselves, I wanted to help them.”

She began volunteering at the Kids Discovery Museum in Bainbridge Island, helping with fundraising and special events for two years. Kimrick then served on the board of directors for three years, learning more about fundraising and how to take an idea from beginning to execution, she says. She also participated in a multimillion-dollar capital campaign.

“It was hard work, but I learned a lot,” Kimrick says.

She is in her second year as a board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Bainbridge Island.

Throughout her early volunteering experiences, she says she learned how to: formalize a mission and effectively communicate it to others, efficiently use donations, and communicate with donors, among other things.

The week in the Philippines taught her to look at the big picture, Kimrick says. She had originally decided to focus on Don Herminio Maravilla but realized that other local schools were also in need of books. Kimrick ultimately donated about 12,000 books to four elementary schools that serve 3,000 students.

Kimrick now wants to form her own nonprofit, which would focus on bringing more books to the Philippines through libraries and bookmobiles. She says she wants to expand her focus beyond the area’s schools and children.

“A lot of young mothers have no access to books on prenatal care, for example,” Kimrick says. “So, why limit giving books to just kids?”

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