Raised with a passion for volunteering, Jyl launched Mom It Forward, an organization devoted to harnessing social networking tools to make an impact on the lives of women across the globe.
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What was your big dream?
To create a worldwide organization made up of an online community and offline chapters where moms can meet up, inspire each other, and make a meaningful difference together through service, volunteerism, and regular meetings and activities.
How did you accomplish it?
I started by developing an online community through weekly twitter parties called #gno, which I co-founded with friend Carissa Rogers. Then, I developed a website, which I am now in the process of developing further to offer opportunities for the women in the community to come together both online and offline to identify and take advantage of service-related opportunities and form chapters in their communities.
Where did you find inspiration to get started?
My real inspiration comes from my parents who dragged me from service project to service project up until the time I left home, teaching me an appreciation and love for volunteering. You can read more about it here
As far as recent inspiration? The #gno twitter parties started haphazardly out of a desire to learn twitter in group format instead of alone. My real inspiration came when we focused one weekly #gno party on a fundraising effort for FeedingAmerica.org in November 2008. I noticed that women in our #gno community started bonding over and were passionate about the topic of service. This is something I am also passionate about, so I began testing a little more by offering additional opportunities to serve both online and offline. People started coming out of the woodwork, got really excited about the new direction, and Mom It Forward was born only one month later in December 2008.
What motivated you to keep going?
Seeing people excited about service and motivated by the opportunities Mom It Forward provided and watching them volunteering their time and skills to get involved and make a difference makes it worth it. But, hearing stories of how we are impacting others is what keeps me going.
Right now, we are spearheading a fundraiser for Yehu Microfinance, which is an organization that provides micro loans to women entrepreneurs in Kenya, Africa. On Thursday, April 30, we had a #gno party and we tweeted with Rose, a recipient of one such loan. We where able to “hear” her share stories about her life in Africa, how Yehu Microfinance has helped her and her family, and what business she has been able to start because of this loan.
That twitter is able to bridge the distance between us and help us talk with the very people we are raising money for is simply amazing. While traveling to Africa and participating in a humanitarian aid project would be tremendous, twitter and other online technologies and communities make it possible to connect, serve, and have similar experiences all with the click of the mouse and in 140 characters or less.
What’s your next Big Dream?
I have lots of plans for developing the website so that it is an amazing online community that engages and connects women all for one purpose: to Mom It Forward!
Who is your hero?
My parents! Growing up, we always had people living with us—women who needed a place to live while they were waiting to place their babies for adoption, foreign exchange students, friends who had bad home lives and needed temporary housing, etc. My parents sat on boards of community organizations and served in leadership capacities at our local church. They taught me to serve at home. They taught me to serve while on vacation. They taught me that selfless service was more about what the person actually needed than about what you had time to or wanted to give. When my parents discovered that my brother had schizophrenia, the first thing they did was sign up for a class to learn everything they could about the illness. The second thing they did was go through a workshop to learn how to become teachers of the class. After that, in addition to lobbying for rights for people with mental illnesses, they taught other families how to help their loved ones that were suffering.
What do you wish you did better?
I wish I were better at waking up in the morning and I wish I were better at being on time.
What book is on your night stand?
I currently have 5 books on my nightstand—one about parenting, two about business and PR, and three by Barbara Kingsolver. I always also have my journal on my nightstand. I love writing by hand—journals, letters, thank-you cards, anything. 🙂
What is your favorite lipstick?
Anything MAC, but especially Odyssey (frost)… if I’m wearing red, then I love Lancome’s red shades.
What is your favorite quote?
Be the change you want to see in the world. (Ghandi)