One Man’s Daydream Helps Hundreds
Throughout 2019, Woolpert’s blog will highlight the volunteer efforts of our outstanding employees. The above picture features Woolpert employee Ian Burkett and Clothed in Hope founder Amy Bardi (wearing green).
Ian Burkett, a proposal manager in Woolpert’s Charlotte office, describes himself as a “husband, dad, graphic designer and avid movie-goer who daydreams about traveling to far-off places.” He made those daydreams a reality when he traveled to the other side of the world to help empower women through education and economic opportunity.
In 2012, Burkett heard about Clothed in Hope, a nonprofit organization that offers a 12-month, life-skills training program to vulnerable women in Zambia, Africa. Clothed in Hope provides classes in sewing and tailoring, entrepreneurship, business management, health education (nutrition, maternal health, waterborne illnesses and HIV/AIDS prevention) and literacy (reading and writing in Nyanja, the local language, and English). The training helps participants generate the sustainable income needed for their families to stay together and gain increased access to food and education. In addition, it stimulates local economic development and prevents poverty-induced social orphaning.
Burkett got involved by helping design event fliers and other marketing materials that Clothed in Hope needed to help spread the word about its mission.
“It kind of snowballed from there,” Burkett said.
The next year, he found himself traveling to Zambia to meet the women in the programs. “I had the opportunity to see our programs first-hand and witness their impact on the lives of the women and their children,” he said.
In 2016, Burkett was invited to join the Clothed in Hope’s board of directors to provide overall strategic guidance and fundraising support.
Clothed in Hope has trained more than 255 women and benefitted their more than 880 children. Burkett said over 100 women have graduated and gone on to start their own small businesses, with more than 75 receiving microloans for those businesses.
Currently, the nonprofit operates four program locations in Zambia, in both urban areas and a remote village. Clothed in Hope has hired 14 full-time Zambian staff to promote a community-owned focus.
Burkett saw many positive results during that memorable 2013 trip. “The whole trip was amazing,” he said. “Spending time with the ladies at our community center in the Ng’ombe compound, meeting their children, playing soccer with them. And I even got engaged to my wife while we were there!”
For more information or to donate, visit clothedinhope.org. You can also shop handmade Zambian products or join the HOPE Club, which supports long-term funding with monthly financial gifts.