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Diasporian News of Thursday, 7 February 2013

Source: mukilteobeacon

Hugs for Ghana starts local initiative

WA. USA-- The Kamiak High School non-profit Hugs for Ghana has a new president and a new board in efforts to grow and continue its mission long after its founding members have graduated from high school.

Kamiak sophomore Michael Bervell is the new president of the group, which aims to help children in Ghana, West Africa in hospitals, schools and orphanages. The title has been passed on from his sister to his brother – and now to him.

Thinking of the future, Michael and his brother Joel Bervell, a Kamiak senior, have reorganized the non-profit so that there are now two student boards to inspire support for years to come. There are about 25 student members.

“If we want the organization to continue going, especially after we graduate, we’re going to have to try and invest in youth – and the new generation of high school students,” Michael said.

As president, Michael has also introduced a new initiative, Helping You Grow (HUG), to serve the local community. Now the students’ focus is more than just Ghana.

“In the past, we’ve held school supplies drives and hand delivered them to children in Ghana, but what we’re trying to do now is make it a lot more local,” Michael said. “We realize there’s a need everywhere, not just internationally.”

Through HUG, members have partnered with the Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club to tutor Endeavour Elementary students after school. They help students with their homework three times a week.

In addition, they now host monthly concerts at Harbour Pointe Retirement in partnership with Kamiak music students for the enjoyment of seniors and staff there. The next concert will be in March.

Michael also oversaw the first Hugs for Ghana car wash, which raised $700. Future projects include shoe and toiletry drives for Ghanaian children and fundraisers to build a library or computer lab in Ghana.

“The only time Ghanaian children get shoes is either at Christmas time or their birthday,” Michael said. “They don’t get shoes, they don’t get simple things that we take for granted.”

Ghanaian Culture Night

Hugs for Ghana is hosting its third annual “A Ghanaian Night of Culture,” which features performances by traditional Ghanaian dancers, drummers and singers, and an African-style meal. Proceeds will go toward medical supplies for several Ghanaian hospitals.

The event will be held from 6-8:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at the Rosehill Community Center. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students). Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Get tickets in advance online at http://hugsforghana.eventbrite.com or by sending a request to Hugs for Ghana, P.O. Box 996, Mukilteo, WA 98275. Tickets will be available at the door for $25 ($20 for students).

Hugs for Ghana was founded in 2007 by Michael’s sister, Rachel Brevell.

After a family trip to Ghana, Rachel, then a student at Kamiak, was inspired to help support underprivileged children there. Both of their parents are from Ghana.

After Rachel graduated, Joel became president of the organization. He has passed the title on to Michael, as he too will soon graduate from Kamiak. Joel is now the CEO.

“It’s been cool to watch [Michael] grow and watch him drum up his own vision for [Hugs for Ghana],” Joel said. “Already he’s done a great job.”

Hugs for Ghana has hosted fundraisers and drives at Kamiak and in the community to donate thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies, school supplies and teddy bears to benefit Ghanaian children.

The recently formed junior and senior boards have about 15 student members each. The junior board is made up of freshmen and sophomores; the senior board is for juniors and seniors.

For more on Hugs for Ghana, go to www.hugsforghana.org.