A couple weeks ago in L.A., I had the pleasure of reuniting with two incredible women, Geralyn Sheehan, Program Director at Opportunity Nicaragua, and Debbie Levin, President of the Environmental Media Association (EMA).
I met Debbie when I got involved with EMA’s School Gardens Program, which supports gardens in urban schools in the L.A. area. I love spending time with the students; through this experience I’ve learned about the positive impact just 45 minutes in the garden can have with children. They’re more focused, they score higher on tests, and they’re happier. I’ve been involved with EMA since 2010. Now, fast-forward to Opportunity International. When we were in Nicaragua over the summer, I saw the students planting their own crops, talking about their challenges and successes, and telling me about how this work will allow the school to be self-sustaining. It was then that I made the connection. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter if it’s a student in L.A. or in Nicaragua, they can succeed. But they need the chance. They need the opportunity.
That’s when I decided to make this important connection in L.A. I wanted to introduce my friends to Opportunity International and I wanted to bring Debbie and Geralyn together. Imagine, they’re two dynamic women working toward the same goal, to make the world a better place by providing students the resources they need to succeed. But they’re doing it across the world from each other. They’re both inspirations to me, and I wanted them to meet.
As soon as I returned from Nicaragua, I urgently called Debbie. She needed to know about Opportunity International and she needed to know about the Emprendedora School. I knew that we needed $65,000 to open new classrooms, and I knew that we needed a lot of support to get there. We planned the first of many small events to share information about Opportunity International and the school. Microsoft hosted the event at The Microsoft Experience venue in Venice Beach and, to everyone’s surprise, announced a donation of five laptop computers for the Emprendedora School.
“My work with Opportunity International is more exciting than landing a movie with Tom Cruise.” -Malin Akerman
It was amazing to hear both Geralyn and Debbie talk about their work, to see their faces light up when they describe the students. It was impossible not to feel the passion and excitement in the room.
My friends and fellow actors Emmanuelle Chriqui, Carla Gugino, Joe Truglio, and Beth Dover came to support the school and learn more. I thank them — and everyone else — who is supporting this fundraising campaign.
We have a long way to go, but through the power of one — one person, one contribution, one garden — we will get there. Please take a moment to contribute to the Nicaragua program, it’s more than a donation, it’s an investment in the future of the students and community in Grenada.