Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Beginning of Knowledge for People...

Welcome to the Knowledge for People blog!  I thought I'd start by sharing some background about how Knowledge for People came to be.  My name is Nikki Scarbrough and for the last 5 years of my life I was a school social worker in Michigan.  I worked with kids who have disabilities, including those who have autism.  I grew to love and adore the kids and I also saw the frustrating times and heartache that the kids and their families go through due to the disorder. 

In addition to being passionate about working with children and their families, I am also passionate about traveling to developing countries and helping in any way that I can (being a school social worker I was fortunate enough to have the summers off to travel).  The more I traveled and spent time in various developing countries, their communities, and orphanages, the more I realized how unfair it is that people don't have the same access to the resources we have here in the United States, particularly health care and services for children with disabilities.  (Not to say that services here are always affordable and readily available, but we have progressed tremendously  when it comes to providing services compared to many other countries.)   I felt like I had to do something.  I mean, imagine having a child who has autism and not knowing what autism even is or what to do about it??  This is the case with many families around the world.  It broke my heart knowing that many kids with autism don't go to school, are widely misunderstood, and are often ostracized in their own community.  In September 2008, I relocated from Michigan to Seattle and decided it was the perfect time to act on what I was thinking.  So, I combined my passion for working with kids who have autism and my wanting to help communities in developing countries and I came up with Knowledge for People.  I wasn't able to find a job as a school social worker here in Seattle, so I took a job as a special education instructional assistant so that I would continue to have the summers off to complete KfP projects.  

I began researching what it takes to start a nonprofit and I became very overwhelmed!  Finding funding, building a website, recruiting people who feel as strongly about the need for autism education around the world as I do, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, blood, sweat, and tears with no pay...phew!  I know I'm being dramatic, but that's how it feels some days :)...although I know it's all worth it to help families in need.  So, amidst my being overwhelmed about getting this going, I received the most amazing email (it was on October 24, 2008, to be exact :).  My friend Emily Brooks sent me a message telling me she works at a marketing company in Chicago called Pepper and they wanted to do a pro-bono project for a nonprofit.  She asked me for some ideas of organizations that might need the help.  I couldn't believe it!  I told her that if they wanted to work with a start-up, here is my idea, and if they wanted to work with a nonprofit who is already established, here are some great organizations.  Well, she put Knowledge for People on their list, the people at Pepper took a vote, and they voted for Knowledge for People! I was jumping up and down and screaming when she told me!  Let's just say that building a website is not one of my strengths.  The people at Pepper have put in so much time and energy to create our website and I am forever grateful to them.  I really hope they understand how much I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.  I highly recommend  Pepper for all of your marketing needs :)  In addition, to building the website and creating our logo, they are organizing a KfP fundraiser in Chicago on April 3rd to honor World Autism Awareness Day!  More details are on our website under the What's New? section. You can also click here Chicago Fundraiser

As for Knowledge for People progress, we are currently in the process of coordinating our first project, which I'm proud to say will take place in Kathmandu, Nepal in July 2009!  More details to come.  Please check back frequently for new posts!