By Tia Haygood, Community Services Director
“When you experience a disaster, when you lose everything that was important, your world falls apart. You lose hope. You lose purpose. You lose the capacity to recover. Those who survived the disaster now must survive the recovery.” – Angela Ortiz, Founder of A Place To Grow
A Place To Grow is an organization that aims to break away from the short term disaster relief NGOs we see in Japan today and create a more lasting and socially driven effort to rebuild communities. The organization originally began after the subsequent events that stemmed from the March 11, 2011 earthquake disaster. As families in Tohoku began to pick up the pieces of their lives, APTG created interactive workshops facilitated by international and local volunteers to help educate communities, particularly children, to become self sufficient once more. Ideally, APTG’s effects in one community inspire survivors who in turn support new disaster victims in other communities.
A Place To Grow’s Unique Strategy
Where many traditional disaster relief NGOs focus on providing food, water, and shelter in the wake of a disaster, A Place To Grow provides emotional and educational recovery with the children of these recovering communities. Children who have suffered a loss participate in art, media, or sports-oriented workshops that allow them to express themselves and redefine their lives from being dependent to being independent. Building self-sufficiency in a recovering community is one of APTG’s most important goals. Another such goal is connecting recovering communities with each other to foster positive and lasting relationships.
The Challenges for A Place To Grow
Because of their unique approach to fostering stronger communities and self-sufficiency, Angela Ortiz and her co-director Tyler Harder’s biggest challenge is finding international and local volunteers who are committed to a more recurring role to children and their families in these recovery areas. One of the benefits of volunteering with A Place To Grow is that volunteers not only help a recovering community gain back their strength, but that they also maintain relationships with those survivors through APTG workshops and events. Angela fondly remembers a time when one of the children she interacts with began calling her “Angela” instead of “Angela-san” as used the year before. Creating a bond with children survivors is key to helping them develop their ability to express themselves. Having an ample number of familiar-faced volunteers are key components of APTG’s success.
How can we ladies at FEW help?
There are numerous ways we can help A Place To Grow cultivate creativity, expression and recovery in the many affected areas in Tohoku. This month, Angela, Tyler and the APTG team will be conducting the Santa Soul Train on December 16th, 17th and 18th. APTG volunteers will be carrying Christmas cards and Secret Santa Stockings to almost 1,312 children across Tohoku. FEW members are more than welcome to decorate a christmas card for one or more Tohoku children or purchase a Secret Santa gift stocking for one or more children at 3,000 yen per stocking. If you would like your company to sponsor a large number of children, there are multiple corporate sponsor options as well. If you would like to send a card or to purchase a stocking click the link below:
We are happy to announce that A Place To Grow will be present for FEW Japan’s 2017 Bonenkai Party on Friday, December 15th at the HR Roppongi Hotel. If you would like to interact with APTG in person please register for the Bonenkai here.
Other organizations you can support during the Christmas season are:
Is a non-profit organization that creates life-changing outdoor programs for abused, neglected, and orphaned children in Japan. Their mission is to support each child’s growth into a happy and successful young adult. Become a volunteer here!
The Make a Wish Foundation is an organization that contributes towards the wishes of children living in Japan, between the ages of 3 and 18 years old, with life threatening illnesses. Become a volunteer! Show your support here!
The Playground of Hope aims to restore the “social fabric” of disaster-affected and/or economically challenged communities through the power of play. This is done by providing cost effective play equipment and pairing donors with local volunteers to build play spaces that restore community pride and help make communities “livable” again for children, their parents and grandparents. Help build a better community here!
Q&A with Rina Bovrisse, activist and founder of the Chateau School
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting – The Accidental Activist : From Chanel to Governor of Tokyo? – we’re featuring a quick Q&A with speaker Rina Bovrisse. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Join us for an insightful discussion next Wednesday, September 12, as Rina […]Published on 9th September 2018
Insider Intel on the Japan Market Expansion Competition
When the opportunity to apply for a Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) scholarship through FEW arose, FEW members Jane Szafraniec (pictured center left) and Nina Cataldo (pictured center) jumped at the opportunity. To understand the full extent of why this was such an amazing space to be in, they’ve shared what JMEC is, their experiences […]Published on 7th September 2018
Event Recap: TELL & FEW Presents The Feminine Eye
On Saturday, August 8th, a group of 11 people interested in learning more about photography gathered at the National Art Center in Roppongi for a women-led photo walk by Selena Hoy, TELL Outreach Coordinator and FEW Community Services Director Tia Haygood, who also is a professional photographer of TopTia Photography.Published on 3rd September 2018
September 2018 Strategic Partner Member Offers & Other News
Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners and other FEW Community Events here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also […]Published on 27th August 2018
How I got Here: Kirsten O’Connor
I decided at age 7, quite resolutely that I wanted to be a teacher. All my decisions thereafter created the path to a teaching qualification, a first teaching post in London, a promotion and then the biggest decision of all – to apply for a teaching job overseas. In Japan no less. Accepting a […]Published on 27th August 2018
Masterminding – Supporting your Success
People buy things because they like the story behind the brand. YOUR story is a key element to your success. Join us as we kick-off the fifth season of the FEW Women's Start-Up Club focusing on the overarching theme of shaping Your Business Story.
FEW Fundraiser Event with Strategic Partner Mom in Balance Tokyo
Start your Sunday with an energetic and fun workout in Yoyogi Park hosted by instructors and FEW members Julie Mangen and Tanja Kinnen from Mom in Balance Tokyo.
October 2018 Members Exclusive Wine Night
Join FEW for our twice-yearly members-exclusive wine night, courtesy of our Strategic Partner Oakwood Premier Midtown. Come along, network, and share your stories around a nice glass of wine in the stunning ambiance of the resident's lounge!
Midweek Lunch Mixer
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Blu Jam Cafe in Daikanyama!
Note: The Lunch Mixer will take place on a Wednesday!