Janelle Rienstra Jones, President
JANELLE’S STORY: Teaching and acting have been my passions in my adult life and I’ve sometimes found it difficult to do both whole-heartedly at the same time. After a good number of years spent focused on acting, and supplementing the sometimes meager financial returns of that profession by working as an Office Manager in the digital advertising space, I longed for a return to teaching.
In 2008, inspired by a friend who found an international volunteering opportunity on idealist.org, I found information on VIN and immediately knew that was going to be my next adventure. I left my job(s) and spent eight weeks living in a Buddhist monastery in Kathmandu and teaching English to the monks there, and the experience changed my life. After returning to the “real world”, I wanted to stay connected to the place and the people, and encourage others to do the same. My time on the Board of FVIN has inspired, challenged, and changed me and I hope to inspire others to join me on this journey!
WHERE I LIVE: Chicago, Illinois
OCCUPATION: Teacher, Actor, Human Resources Manager
HOBBIES: Travel, Reading, Running BACKGROUND: Degrees in Theatre and Education
I am fortunate to have a supportive family and community in Nepal, in the US, and around the world. Since my first trip to Nepal in 2009 to meet my in-laws, I have been working on and researching with many wonderful individuals on important issues and ongoing projects in Nepal that I am passionate about. These include the education and economic empowerment of women and girls, and sustainable agriculture and community development.
I am committed to Nepal’s bright future. My ongoing work here includes with Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) as Vice President of Friends of Volunteer Initiative Nepal USA (FVIN) and with Astha Women’s School and the Chetana Women Skills Development Project. Meeting the strong, beautiful women of Nepal has been particularly moving and motivating to me. My mission is to support local programs by and for women and girls.
WHERE I LIVE: Honolulu, Hawaii
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Graduate Student
PASSIONS: My passions include working toward equality, social and environmental justice, sustainability and ethical development, the arts, activism, social entrepreneurialism and progressive change.
Sadie Green, Vice President
DEE’S STORY: I have lived/traveled for 8 of the past 40 years in Asia. This has influenced my life in three profound ways. First, I have enormous gratitude to live here in the U.S.: an abundant and beautiful country with so much opportunity and ease. Secondly, I have been moved, sometimes to tears, at the poverty and lack of basic material comforts most people in Asia continue to endure: no running water, no toilets or sanitation, a near absence of education. Thirdly, from the perspective of life’s purpose and meaning, I have been motivated to share what I can, to help others help them to equalize the many inequalities that I struggle to understand.
Why Nepal? Traveling through Nepal first in 1998 gave me an introduction to a country that although extremely poor and lacking in creature comforts, was incredibly rich in diversity, topographically beautiful, and populated by open and warm people. In 2009 I decided I wanted to return to Nepal, not just as a tourist, but to spend more quality time interacting with people and learning firsthand about the culture. I then researched travel and volunteer opportunities in Nepal. Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) was chosen primarily because it was organized and run by local Nepalese and therefore I knew my monetary contributions would go directly to the Nepali community. The three weeks I spent in Nepal teaching English in a primary school in the village of Dadagoun only whetted my appetite to do more. My respect and admiration for the founder and primary force behind VIN, Bhupi, as well as his staff, was an important impetus for my wanting to found Friends of VIN upon my return to the U.S.
Dee Chapon, Board Member
BIRTH DATE: May 7, 1943
FROM: Haiku, Hawaii
OCCUPATION: Semi-retired, Couples Dialogue Coach and Mediator
BACKGROUND: Master’s Degrees in Public Health and Political Science. Experience in administration, bookkeeping, tax preparation, non-profit sector, and small retail business.
MADDIE’s STORY: The first time I saw my younger sister, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of love. We shared no blood relations and were born on different sides of the world. The only ties binding us were circumstantial. Any number of factors—a delay in paperwork, governmental policy changes, the choices available to her birth parents—would have changed the outcome and the girl I know as my sister would be someone else entirely. I love my sister because she is family, but that love could easily have been for any other girl. Why then, shouldn’t I treat everyone with the same generosity and compassion I give to my family? We are each of us members of a human family.
With this conviction, I sought ways to offer aid to my human family where it was most needed— in developing countries. I am especially passionate about women’s rights, so I spent twelve weeks in 2012 volunteering for VIN’s Women’s Empowerment projects. My continuing mission is to support the people of Nepal as they work towards gender equality and a higher standard of living.
Maddison Rosenberg, Secretary
WHERE I LIVE: Seattle, WA
OCCUPATION: Human Services Professional
BACKGROUND: BA in Human Services, experience with domestic violence advocacy and development & outreach.
THOMAS’ STORY: A native of the state of Alabama, I have lived in a variety of places since 1987 (Connecticut, California, New York City, Pennsylvania) but settled in Chicago in 1995 and have made my home here since. I was the Managing Director and Co-Producer of Eclipse Theatre Company for over ten years while I also worked in SEM advertising and digital media. Inspired by my wife’s stories of her time in Nepal, I decided to volunteer with VIN myself and spent seven weeks living with a family in Jitpur Phedi whiel I taught English at a nearby school and worked in the fields as well as the VIN office. As a member of the FVIN Board, I am excited to be a part of our mission to empower women and children in Nepal.
Thomas Jones, Treasurer
WHERE I LIVE: Chicago, Illinois
OCCUPATION: Education, Social Media, Theatre
BACKGROUND: Degree in Theatre and English; experience in digital advertising, theatre management, teaching, fight choreography, and acting.