Letter from the Director
Founder of the Community Empowerment Network (CEN), I continue the
honor and privilege to serve as Director. As we begin anew in
2014, I reflect on the accomplishments of 2013 and remain committed as
ever to the vision and purpose of this organization.
As a valued supporter of CEN and
subscriber to our eNewsletter, I want to take this opportunity to share
a few of our achievements and give gratitude for the generosity of your
time and donations. It is important too, to provide an overview of how
we are putting your dollars to work.
We have a clear set direction for
2014 – while continuing our current in-progress efforts. The year ahead
holds continued promise and momentum thanks to the CEN team, a dynamic
group of volunteers, our Board of Directors, as well as our generous
contributors and donors.
With our promising progress, in
truth, our path forward is not without challenges. In this edition of
the eNewsletter, I want to highlight a few key programs, recognize and
spotlight one of our many valued volunteers, and outline the next steps
to meet the needs we must continue to address.
Some of our most notable achievements
during last year included:
You can read more about our
accomplishments and agenda for 2014 in this edition of the eNewsletter
by reading the State of the Organization 2013
In the article CEN Tours Take a New
Direction, you can read all about our latest plans for organizing tours
to the Amazon. Also, be sure not to miss the thoughts of Claire
Abdul-Azeez, a CEN Volunteer originally from Africa but currently
living in the Ukraine, about how the mindset of poverty must be
overcome if communities are going to break the cycle of poverty they
I am confident in the CEN Community
as we continue to meet our immediate and long-term objectives. We
strive to continue the ongoing strength of the organization and
importantly, to support the mission of providing the support and
resources indispensable for community self-sufficiency, improving the
lives of those in need.
Please contact me directly if you have
any recommendations or just would like to know more about our work.
With gratitude and warmest regards,
CEN Founder and Director
State of the Organization 2014 – On
The Road to Sustainability
by Bob Bortner
Now that 2013 has come to a close, we look
back with admiration for the support we have received, progress made
within CEN and, importantly, with the programs we support and the
people we serve. We have made some important strides in our Amazon
water and electrical projects and continue to strive for excellence
within the organization.
As we embark upon this new year, we would
like to take this opportunity to have an open discussion with you on
the state of CEN and the actions we are taking to further our mission
as we continue to make a difference in the Amazon communities we
support. As subscribers to our newsletters - and our supporters -
you are all part of
our team. We're in this together and our success is your success. It’s
important that you know what your support donation has helped fund,
what accomplishments we have achieved and what our current needs are so
you know how you can best help continue to contribute to our success.
During 2013 we made significant progress
with our various programs designed to empower rural communities of the
Brazilian Amazon, including the execution of our Micro-hydrokinetic Project, Development, launch
and funding for two new Projects, and leading the first international
group tour to the Eixo Forte. Learn more>>
During 2013 we also made significant
progress building CEN’s own sustainability by securing our first grant
for our Eixo Forte Community-based Tourism Project and
achieving greater financial health of the organization. Given our very
small size and the fact that we hav no paid staff in the US, these
accomplishments are all the more impressive. Learn more>>
Challenges We Face
Thanks to our accomplishments in 2013 and
over the past few years, CEN is in a better position to serve more
people by scaling the impact of our work. To take advantage of this
opportunity, we need to address several key challenges we are facing
including increasing the scale of tangible results of our
programs, strengthening our organizational leadership capacity
and increasing the financial resources we have available to meet our
mission. Learn more>>
Our goals and
plans for the year
Together with the Board and our new
Leadership Council, our Director has developed a realistic plan with
specific goals and actions for addressing our key challenges. Learn more>>
What you can do
to help us achieve each of these goals
As a stakeholder in our organization, there
are many things you can take to help CEN realize its goals for 2014,
including donating your time or money, help fund-raise, spread the
word, think of us when you shop, and share your personal and
professional network. Learn more>>
Tourism Update – CEN Tours Take a
New Direction in 2014
by Terrel Chang
Organizing tours to the region we serve has
played a growing role in our Eixo Forte Community-based Tourism Project and our
Community-based Tourism Program for the past two
years. Through the tours, our supporters and other visitors have
had the opportunity to visit remote areas of the Amazon, witness the
beauty of the Tapajós River and the rainforest, interact with people of
the communities, all while providing residents experience that is
critical to lead and build a successful, sustainable community-based
After cancelling our Tapajós River Rainforest Tour group tour this
winter because we were unable to line up enough people to cover our
costs, we’ve decided to step back and re-evaluate program. We are now
actively looking to partner with other affinity groups who have access
to customer base that would be an appropriate match for the group
tour. Meanwhile we are working with several universities to
develop trips tailored to their students, and continuing to offer
individual tours to the Tapajós and Eixo Forte, as well as our Experience the Pristine Amazon in Xixuaú-Xiparinã
Xixuau Tour. Learn more>>
Empowerblog:Thinking Away Poverty
by Claire Abdul-Azeez
Is it really possible to think away poverty?
I believe that it is. That's because the mental state of a person has a
lot to do in with keeping them there. What a person believes about
their situation determines their response to that situation.
That's why I applaud CENs approach of
showing people who live in rural poverty that they are able to give
themselves a better life, and that they can have a controlling hand in
eradicating poverty in their communities.
In the past, CEN’s done this by organizing
programs that focus on building the right mindsets in our program
participants. They teach them to be self-reliant, so that they do not
have to wait or depend too much on the government or any other outside
source for help.
Although the mindset alone is not
enough to solve poverty by itself, it is with this mindset of
self-reliance that people begin to truly understand that their
destinies are literally in their own hands.
That's because they are the ones who have to
choose to say no to poverty. They have to choose whether to accept the
help that we give them... they have to choose to participate in the
skill-building and self-development programs we organize... they
essentially are the ones who have to decide to make good use of the
knowledge they have acquired and change their economic situations. Yes,
they have to choose to think (and work) themselves away from poverty.
No government or foreign aid worker can help them do that for them.
CEN focuses on helping rural community
members make the necessary mindset shift from feeling stuck and
helpless, to feeling empowered and self-reliant enough to improve their
lives and community. This way communities can tackle whatever problems
and challenges they face, whether in the form of healthcare, education,
governance or a myriad of issues that they will inevitably need to
address in the future. This way, they can leave a legacy for
generations to come. A legacy which says that self-reliance is a sure
route out of poverty.
Claire Abdul-Azeez (@Clairewriter) is a
freelance writer and blogger with many passions, including helping the
less privileged. She is also the founder of OrganizedProductivity.com,
where she regularly blogs. Claire is a CEN Volunteer originally
from Africa who currently lives in the Ukraine.
Leon Kinsley Empowers Volunteers to Take a Leadership Role in the
by Ashley Truxon
After learning about CEN through the Whatcom
Volunteer Center and seeing their meaningful impact on society,
Leon Kinsley was inspired to get involved and put to use his
professional volunteer management abilities. Since October 2013 he has
served as the Manager for the Volunteer Management team, where he works
to identify, recruit and interview potential CEN volunteers, as well as
improve the satisfaction and effectiveness of active volunteers.
Leon is playing a central role in our
growing efforts to empower our all-volunteer staff to take increasing
ownership and be successful in their role within the organization. He
is coordinating efforts to improve our orientation of new volunteers
and their training, as well as working with the IT Team to roll out
tools that enable volunteers to collaborate more closely.
As a Bellingham, WA native, he attended the
University of Washington and studied library science. He currently
works in library and information services at a technical college and
lives in Lummi Island, WA. He describes himself as punctual, dependable
and busy, which is evident in his numerous volunteer initiatives, which
includes serving as technology instructor with the local public library
At CEN, he enjoys the opportunity to talk
with people from around the world. In his words, “Doing something in or
for your community is essential to spreading goodwill and hope.”
Leon’s long-term goals include making a significant impact and
contribution to the library profession.
Meet our other volunteers>>
How You Can Help
It‘s always fun to give and great to
receive. Check out the many ways you can contribute.
There are many ways you can contribute to CEN and the Amazon community,
time, money, party, shop! We offer a variety of ways you can show
your support and continue to help our rural Amazon communities, and
sometimes, you can benefit too!
Donate to Rural Family Home Artesian
Well Project ?
Help satisfy the region’s youth’s thirst for
The Rural Family Home is a three-year vocational
school located in the Brazilian Amazon which stems the migration of
young men and women from rural areas in the region to overcrowded
cities by providing them a quality secondary education that builds the
skills and opportunities they need to realize a better quality of life
and improved economic opportunities in their own communities.
In order to realize its full potential
though, the Rural Family Home needs better facilities, including access
to clean drinking water. The nearest drinking water is over five
kilometers away and needs to be carried daily by the students and
staff. The challenge of supplying drinking water consumes staff time,
contributes to staff frustration and burnout, and complicates the
staff's ability to provide a quality educational experience. We only
need a bit under $6000 before the Rural Family Home can break ground on
their well. Donations to through our Website
will go directly the project. Donate Now>>
Use our Amazon.com Link whenever you
shop on Amazon.com
Every purchase you make supports our projects.
Help support us, simply by
purchasing from Amazon.com! Go to this link or click the
Amazon.com image to the left to get started. Up to 10% of your purchase
will be donated from Amazon.com to CEN with no additional cost to you.
Last year CEN earned over $300 through the program!
Bookmark this link
to use every time you purchase from Amazon.com
Sign up for the CEN Capitol One®
Allow your money to work for you, while helping
Apply for a CEN Capitol One®
Visa Credit Card and CEN will automatically earn up to 3% on every
purchase you make. Furthermore, you can save hundreds of dollars of
year on international transaction fees by using this card instead of
your other credit cards when purchasing outside the US, or even on
websites based outside the US.
With low fees and no foreign
fees, you can save hundreds of dollars a year. This makes an especially great credit card for
anyone who travels outside the US. Learn More>>