Ripple Effects

Generous response to workplace campaign results in opportunities for communities, students

January 12, 2023 | Be Inspired

Rachael Wohletz had an “aha” moment listening to a speaker at her church describe the tremendous impact sponsoring a child in a developing country could make — for a contribution equivalent to the cost of eating out once a month.

The Kansas City-area resident thought about how many times she ate out in a month, or even in a week, and it hit her: Sponsoring a child was something she could do. She signed up that day to sponsor a 12-year-old boy in Colombia. That was in 2005, and since then she’s sponsored two more children and an elder through Unbound.

“It [sponsorship] is definitely a relationship that grounds me in gratitude for the life I was born into and have been able to experience, as well as that fulfillment — that calling — that I believe Christians have in terms of loving our brothers and sisters, loving one another and giving them that support when you can,” Wohletz said. “That’s the core of what I’m trying to do in my life — be a person of good influence, and let my relationships define the quality of my life.”

Photo 1: Sponsor Rachael Wohletz holds a letter and photo from her sponsored friend Jhon. Rachael began sponsoring Jhon when he was 6 and too young to write, so she corresponded with his mother. Now, Rachael enjoys hearing from Jhon and receiving drawings, like this one of his cat, Luna.

Photo 2: Jhon, 12, lives in Colombia. He and his mother met his sponsor, Rachael, in a virtual visit facilitated by Unbound in October 2021.

'A proud moment'


Wohletz’s efforts to reach out to others go beyond her individual sponsorships. In 2021, as she was serving as the communications officer for the Women and Allies Network (WAN) at her workplace, T-Mobile, she nominated Unbound to be a recipient of a $20,000 grant from the T-Mobile Foundation. The WAN board concurred.

Simultaneously, the T-Mobile Foundation offered a 2:1 match — for up to $10,000 in employee donations to selected nonprofits — during the month of July. The Women and Allies Network was among six employee resource groups selecting a charity to champion, and Wohletz said Unbound’s work with families, particularly in “educating, empowering and advocating for women for a better future,” was a “natural fit” for WAN.

Wohletz created the marketing campaign to get the word out to WAN members. Thanks to the employees of T-Mobile who believed in the mission and generously donated, the fundraising goal was exceeded. With matching funds, it yielded more than $30,000 for Unbound’s work around the world.

“I was so, so pleased and really excited,” Wohletz said of the campaign’s results, calling it “a proud moment in my career.”

That shining moment for Wohletz and her T-Mobile colleagues led to life-changing opportunities for families around the world. The $20,000 foundation grant supported Unbound Agents of Change initiatives. Agents of Change funds give people in poverty who are closest to a problem a platform to identify needs in their communities and design and implement small-scale, local solutions.

The additional $30,000 raised during T-Mobile’s month-long giving campaign supported the Unbound Scholarship Program, which provides financial assistance, community service opportunities and leadership development to help aspiring students reach their educational and career goals.

Tara Hefner, market development director at Unbound, noted that corporate giving varies depending on the company's philanthropic mission and goals.

“We know giving back is important to companies and their employees,” Hefner said. “We work with companies to develop a partnership that reflects their vision for a successful program — one that aligns with their goals and mission in a unique and impactful way. For some companies, that’s supporting a specific fund, like Agents of Change, for others, it’s underwriting sponsorship to help broaden their employees’ global view.”

forming bonds across the miles


Today, Wohletz continues her individual support by sponsoring a child and an elder — Jhon, 12, of Colombia, and Aida, 85, of the Dominican Republic.

She enjoys writing letters and making a connection. She corresponded with Jhon’s mother at first because he was only 6 when she sponsored him.

“It was such a nice connection to speak to Jhon through his mother because I felt very bonded to her at the same time, so that I could sincerely let her know my appreciation for her young son and his energy and his love of Peppa the Pig,” Wohletz said. “All the things that she shared with me about him really contributed to the appreciation I have for her as his mother.”

Wohletz said she came to admire Jhon’s mother as she learned details of the family’s living conditions and how Jhon’s mom was saving money to bring water to the house and buy tiles to upgrade their home’s dirt floor.

Now that Jhon is old enough to write, it’s a whole different experience receiving drawings of his cat and learning about his interests in his own words.

“It was almost like a proud godparent moment when I started to receive letters from Jhon himself,” Wohletz said.

Wohletz had a virtual visit with Jhon facilitated by Unbound in October 2021, and she and Jhon’s mother were moved to tears as they saw each other on camera and spoke with the assistance of an interpreter.

“It’s relationship building, it’s connections, it’s bonding,” Wohletz said in reflecting on sponsorship. “It’s having a communal experience across oceans, and that makes it more than just ‘Oh, I wrote a check.’

“It makes it very personal. It makes it a much more fulfilling experience because of the relationship.”

One

Aida, 85, of the Dominican Republic, is Rachael’s elder sponsored friend. Like her sponsor, Aida enjoys connecting with others. She likes to sing and brew coffee for her neighbors, even though she doesn’t drink it.

We know giving back is important to companies and their employees. We work with companies to develop a partnership that reflects their vision for a successful program — one that aligns with their goals and mission in a unique and impactful way.

— Tara Hefner, Market Development Director at Unbound


THE LATEST