Costco members changing the world
LIGHTening the load
The future of world changing
IN 2008, HIGH SCHOOL juniors Ben Eveslage and Jessica Forzano (son
of Michigan Costco member Nancy Eveslage and daughter of Costco
member Rick Forzano, respectively) traveled to Ghana for two months.
When they returned, they started a school group called Volunteer Africa
www.vafrica.org), a nonprofit intended to connect communities, raise
awareness and serve the underprivileged youth of Africa through programs such as “I’m Hungry” and the Online Tutor program, which connects Michigan residents with children in Ghana. Ben also created a
short movie, The Seaholm Ghana Project, which can be found on
You Tube, and which won the Connie Ernst award, a top state award.
“I’m Hungry” is a project that stemmed from the problem in
Nkwantakese, Ghana. “A primary school was in the process of closure
because the government did not provide funds for the lunch program,”
says Eveslage. “Children were skipping school to work on farms to get
fed for the day.
“Jessica and I are living proof that people do change, and it was
the inspiration we found in Africa that did that.”—T. Foster Jones
88 ;e Costco Connection NOVEMBER 2009
IN TODAY’S ECONOMY, many underinsured cancer patients are
overwhelmed by treatment costs.
In southwest Florida, some of them have seen the light, thanks
to Costco member Sandy Zinschlag, a former financial counselor
at Florida Cancer Specialists, who in July 2007 started LIGHT,
Long-term Impact through the Gift of Hope and Treatment (www.
Run by local volunteers, LIGHT assists people with cancer who
need financial assistance for treatment.
The money comes from fundraising, grants and bracelet sales.
All profits go directly to help patients—who have applied and been
accepted by the program—to defray treatment costs.
To date, 120 people have received from $200 to $6,000 per
month, paid directly to the physician or medical facility.
“We’re just one small group, but we’re hopefully making the
first small steps to making this right,” concludes Zinschlag.
It takes a village
MORE THAN A DECADE AGO, Theresa Norris left her Seattle-based job as a Microsoft executive, and in 1999 the Costco
member founded Women’s Enterprises International (WEI;
www.womensenterprises.org), a nonprofit aimed at helping
women and children overcome poverty in rural villages in the
WEI connects with communities of women who are pooling funds to build rainwater catchment systems, send their children to school or start their own businesses. Based on the
model of corporate matching grants, WEI pledges to double
the community’s efforts: Once the women raise enough money
to build one cistern or send one child to school, the organization puts forth enough resources for a second.
“All of our programs are started by and run by local indigenous leaders—women who on their own have identified a
need and taken the initiative to address that need,” Norris says.
“They’re the ones who are the architects and the authors of this
work. Each of these women is an amazing, capable person with gifts
and talents that are—for the first time ever—being unlocked, realized and recognized.”—Sarah van Schagen
Theresa Norris and some of
the leaders in the Ukambani
region of eastern Kenya.