Tribute to The Change-makers I Depend On – Youth Day 2018

Many of you who know me personally know that I work with an amazing team at IVolunteer International. While most of our accomplishments seem like I own them, the truth is, I don’t. Most of our functions and actions are taking place behind the screen by some of the most amazing young leaders I’ve met in my life. They are driven, passionately attached to the cause and are some of the most professional individuals I’ve ever worked with. Most importantly, standing up to our mission, they are all volunteers. This International Youth Day, I wanted to give thanks to them because they are some of the change-makers I depend on. Their work has brought IVolunteer International to what it is today and they deserve the biggest thanks in the world. They’ve worked through frustrating changes, hundreds of long meetings, and been super patient during the most “future-is-blurred” times.

So here you go – time to meet them all. (In no particular order!)

  • Thimal – The backbone behind our entire operation.

Thimal and I got to know through a mutual friend – Pasindu. When Thimal first started working with us (I think it was in 2016) him and I had never met! (Can you believe that?). He loved the idea and jumped right in. Thimal has self-taught himself most of the IT knowledge and he currently serves as our Chief Technical Officer, maintaining and working on all of our IT operations and you can just imagine how much work he does for us, given that we are a VIRTUAL organization. Typically, Thimal does so much more work than I do. Thimal is a visionary. The team usually gives him ideas and he puts everything into virtual masterpieces. His work is very professional and he prefers to do the work in the background. Without him, (tbh) the organization would not be here, period. I’ve changed my ideas more than a thousand times and each time, Thimal is in on the game very patiently upgrading everything to suit our ever-improving volunteering platform. I’m thankful to him for his volunteer service every single day.

  • Kynder – Our Social Media and PR Guru.

Kynder is actually new to the organization (in terms of joining date) but I’ve always felt like she’s been with us for ages! When she joined, her plans were way beyond my imagination. Kynder and I met through Rotaract-Rotary connections. She graduated from The College of Coastal GA and started volunteering with us right away (she’s starting her new job soon!). Kynder is literally our social media guru. Her expertise on Hootsuite and re-branding our social media, maintaining our accounts, and also strategizing our public relations campaigns have brought our brand to a whole new level. Kynder brought in some magical professional work and experience to our small start-up nonprofit. Her work has been extremely valuable to us. Kynder is always on the go (it feels like it!) but always has about a 5 minute reply time to everything! She’s on top of it all. Without Kynder our social media operations would be a disaster! I’m thankful for her support always and I’m sure she is going to mesmerize the staff at her new job with her skills. (Oh btw, she is our in-house graphic designer!).

  • Pasindu – The guy from the beginning of time.

Pasindu and I go waaaaay back (too much actually, haha!). Pasindu and I met when we were in Interact back in Sri Lanka (maybe like 2010 or something!). We became best buddies. Since the start of the organization, Pasindu has been through it all with me. He currently serves as the Sri Lankan Representative for the organization and has done some amazing work. Pasindu is a guy who likes to get the job done well. He works hard. He’s one of the most busiest people in my team but he doesn’t let anything get in the way (I have no idea how he does it). Apart from the team, he’s one of my good friends. I can always switch the conversation and have a good friendly chat with him. Pasindu is an avid volunteer. Since those days, he used to love volunteering, meeting new people and just being a nice guy. He knows too much about robots (he’s studying engineering) and he is pretty good at making them too! – I’m telling you, he’s going to take over the world with robots. Throughout the years the organization has changed drastically and Pasindu has been there through the entire thing. He’s been extremely patient, believing in our vision. He’s brought us some amazing partnerships, projects, and even people into the organization. I met Thimal through Pasindu. He’s a great guy and to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to do all this without him. He is irreplaceable.

  • Tyler – He’s got all the muh-ney!

Tyler and I met through Student Government work at Armstrong (now Georgia Southern). When I joined SGA, Tyler was Attorney General. Time passed and it was time to get a good and steady Chief Financial Officer to take care of all our monetary functions and Tyler was the guy! He hopped on board as one of the Board Members of the organization as well. Tyler is a big-time entrepreneur. He has his own lawn-care business that has some steady growth and sustainable business. He talks and walks money when it comes to investments, budgeting, credit and all of that so he’s the perfect guy to handle our money. He is very detail oriented. Thanks to him we got our bank account sorted, a budget for the next couple of years and a steady fundraising campaign moving forward. He’s the guy who will ask you for receipts for everything (haha!). Tyler and I have become good friends since. He is also a part of our Rotaract club, so that’s another Rotaract-Rotary connection I got. Tyler has given the organization a sense of direction with our financial documents so we know what we are doing and how much we need to do all that.

  • Prabuddhi – If you’re joining, you go through her.

Prabuddhi and I have only met a handful of times, but she is one of the most active members of our team. I met her through one of my friends and she’s handling all of our Human Resource functions. The funny thing is, she is not even in the HR field! She is actually studying Engineering! When she joined, she hopped into our HR functions and did a whole lot of work there. She put together our virtual training material, prepared our recruitment paperwork, recruitment process and has been a stellar member when it comes to the selection process. She learned all this by herself. Prabuddhi has brought in some amazing ideas to the team and has never given us a no — even when it’s not in her field of work, she’s very happy to help out our operations in Sri Lanka. Her dedication has brought us all here and especially been very important in recruiting all the amazing people to the team! I’m very thankful for her support.

  • Ann – The empress of our blog and Writer’s Council!

Ann is one of the most hardworking and strong figures in our team. She loves journalism and has a nag for volunteerism. Ann provides leadership to our blog and manages the volunteers in our Writer’s Council. Ann has been with us through thick and thin. Whenever there is a story popping up about youth work or volunteerism, she makes sure to travel there and cover the story for us. She has a pretty busy schedule with full-time work, but she never lay our work behind and is always on top of it. If you see anything on our blog, let it be an interview, a story about an event or celebrating an internationally commemorated day, she has something to do with us. She makes all the schedules for our Writers’ Council and works with them to publish their articles. She is basically running her own department for our organization. Since her service as our Editor-in-Chief, our blog has an elevated meaning and purpose. Our blog developed the capacity to inform and engage our audience about different international days, their importance, and provided a platform for young people to voice their opinion. If you’d like to join the Council, you can do so now! I’m very thankful to Ann for sticking with us through everything and her perseverance, even when articles don’t come up according to a timeline and things get very stressful.

  • Tajae – The future Rotary and/or U.S. President!

Tajae and I met through Student Government as well. We became best buddies. When I was elected as President, he served our community with me as Vice President and did an amazing job at it. We worked well together. So when we were finishing our tenure, I dumped my question on him and asked if he would like to join the organization as a Board Member and our U.S. Representative and he came on board! Tajae was also the President of our Rotaract Club (another connection) and is now my successor as the District Rotaract Representative. Tajae is extremely professional and is very detail-oriented too. He knows his stuff and does it his own way. As the U.S. Rep, he’s done so much for us, bringing in some great partnerships, volunteer projects, and even ideas to enhance and expand the organization. Tajae is someone I totally depend on. He’s a work-a-holic who knows how to have fun. Tajae believes in our vision and is extremely passionate about volunteering. I’m sure he’ll end up being the U.S. President and he will do a great job at it! In the meantime, he will probably be Rotary President too! Tajae is a great guy and I’m very thankful to his service so far. He’s going to graduate soon and though he won’t be in meet-up distance, I know his service to our organization will remain wherever he moves on to.

Team work make dreams work.

I know its a cliché quote, but that’s exactly what happens at IVolunteer International. When we started, our vision was just a dream. With our team together, it became a reality. It’s still evolving with new ideas everyday and when we hit our goal with our app and we introduce our vision to the world, I will look back and be super thankful to these amazing young leaders who worked side-by-side with me through thick and thin.

Who said we can’t change the world?

This is just the beginning.