(Natalie Gunn – a Board Member and Volunteer with SchoolBOX and co-owner of Stittsville’s Oxford Learning located on Hobin Street. Photo: SchoolBOX)
Want to make a real difference in someone’s life? Are you interested in volunteering internationally? Then meet Natalie Gunn, one of the many volunteers with SchoolBOX helping to make a difference in the lives of children in Nicaragua.
Natalie is the co-owner of the Oxford Learning centre in Stittsville. Being a teacher, it is a natural fit for Natalie to share her teaching knowledge with the children of Nicaragua. She imparts her dedication to the students so they increase their motivation to learn. She understands each student’s individual needs and gives them the optimism they need to continue on their learning path.
SchoolBOX is an organization that builds classrooms in Nicaragua, helping students get the education they deserve and to help them reach their full potential. SchoolBOX depends on volunteers from around the world to make this happen, and Natalie Gunn is one such person.
We asked her what led her to volunteer with SchoolBOX. “To be honest, I felt that something was missing in my life and I knew it was helping others. I was looking for a new opportunity that would pair my love of working in education (I’m a teacher by trade), with children and in the developing world. Through a series of fortunate Facebook page clicks, I landed on SchoolBOX’s page; something just felt right,” she said. In the past, she volunteered internationally in Malawi. But this was an opportunity to bridge her love of education with helping others in need.
(Students in Nicaragua excited to be going to school. Photo: Equator Coffee a partner of SchoolBOX)
Natalie felt SchoolBOX offered the perfect opportunity to volunteer in a way that used her experience in education. “The SchoolBOX team is unbelievable. The director, volunteer coordinators, translators, construction crew and drivers all ooze passion for their work. Lives are truly being changed and they are proud to be part of the fight to help kids gain an education and fight poverty,” she said.
Fundraising is an important element of local charities and Natalie has experimented with some creative concepts to help generate revenue for her projects. She runs an annual SchoolBOX trivia night, which had its second iteration in May. She’s hosted comedy nights, linked arms with a local hair studio, Styled, who donated portions of hair services for an entire month to the build, held summer read-a-thon at an Oxford Learning centres and has solicited business directly for support. She has even asked for friends and family to donate to SchoolBOX instead of receiving gifts for her birthday.
The program is a 10-day group trip to help build a classroom or a school. There is no age restriction on volunteers. In the past, people as young as eight and as old as 73 have helped SchoolBOX’s cause. With the help of volunteers, SchoolBOX has helped thousands of children in Nicaragua to go to school.
By engaging with your community, you too can follow in Natalie’s footsteps and help children in need get the opportunities they deserve while having the trip of a lifetime at the same time!
SchoolBOX is committed to ‘Making Education Possible’ for the children of Nicaragua. SchoolBOX implements cost effective programming by building schools, providing school supplies, libraries, and teacher training. SchoolBOX has built over 100 classrooms, 81 libraries, and 59 washrooms in Nicaragua and serves over 20,000 students and teachers in 108 communities on an annual basis. We also work with communities in the Indigenous North of Canada providing books, learning resources and nutritional meals to those that need it the most.
The SchoolBOX community is united in love for the children it serves and the belief that education can defeat poverty. SchoolBOX is comprised of thousands of people with different beliefs and socioeconomic backgrounds. It empowers educators and students, and they in turn empower their communities and change the world
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