1. Tell us about your mission.
A Self-help Assistance Program’s (ASAP) mission is to cultivate self-reliance for women and youth through entrepreneurship and education projects and to foster cross-cultural understanding. For nearly thirty years ASAP has created and implemented projects that have helped over 100,000 families worldwide become self-reliant. This is achieved by collaborating locally and internationally with other NGOS, individuals, companies, and foundations.
Today, Tools for Empowerment (TFE) in Newnan GA, works to provide trade tool kits to vocational school graduates around the world. These young women and men graduate with the knowledge and drive to succeed in their respective trades; but without tools oftentimes they are still unable to find independence. Working in partnership with The Salesian Missions of Don Bosco, who provide vocational skills training in 130 developing countries, ASAP collects and restores local tool donations for use by successful graduates. These young people are then able to practice their trade, provide for their families, rebuild their communities, and reap the emotional benefits of independence. To date, ASAP has provided tools to over 1,600 students in Haiti, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.
Currently, we are collecting and restoring tools for a new collaboration in Peru. Our volunteers remain diligent in preparing these kits for young women and men in an effort to promote self-reliant communities in this part of the world.
We also practice what we preach and work to generate program-related income for ASAP. Our longest-running endeavor, “Tinovaka” (‘We build’ in the Shona language), was a carpentry-with-production training center in Zimbabwe. Local residents gained training in carpentry while building school furniture kits that were later purchased by international donors for use in rural schools. This project covered overhead costs for ASAP for ten years while providing training and tools for over 100 carpenters annually. Further, these schools benefitted from both the new furniture as well as the local carpentry expertise to maintain furniture and school buildings in their remote rural area.
2. How is The West Foundation supporting your mission?
The West Foundation was essential in providing vital funding for our Tools for Empowerment program. Since the initial grant, ASAP has gone on to help over 1,600 families worldwide. In addition to this assistance and program, The West Foundation has also driven our marketing strategy and helped us increase recognition within our community.
3. Considering your impactful work to eliminate poverty, how is The West Foundation’s philanthropic support providing you with sustainability and mobility?
While tool donations help us create tool kits for vocational school graduates, philanthropic support is equally as important to continue our mission. With your help, we are able to fund expenses such as purchasing cleaning materials to refurbish tools, pay for gas when picking up donations from the community, and providing our volunteers with a space to clean and package tools. These donations keep our program running so that we may focus on gathering the right tools for the right students.
4. How are you realizing your potential?
ASAP has created multiple programs to foster self-sufficiency in communities plagued by poverty or a lack of opportunity. Our partnerships with international organizations help further our mission and TFE creates a tangible program both locally and internationally. We are constantly moving forward and helping those we can along the way.
5. What’s one important thing you want others to know about your organization?
ASAP is a labor of love; working to bridge divides, foster cross-cultural understanding, and strengthen our common humanity. Only when we work together across cultures for a common goal can we achieve sustainable, positive change that overcome stereotypes, quell fear, and help create World Citizens.
6. How can people reading this help you?
You can go to our website, asapempowers.org and click-on “Ways to Help”. Anywhere in the world, you can hold a fund raiser to support our work. Be creative! Dedicate your next marathon, bake sale, or event to help foster cross-cultural understanding and self-reliance. Choose Click & Pledge, Mighty Cause, GoFundMe, or Global Giving. Your tax-deductible monetary donation is welcomed too. If you are within driving distance to Newnan, GA or Peachtree City, GA – we can always use your tools or your time! We accept hand tools, power tools, sewing machines, and gardening tools to name a few. Many of our volunteers hold tool drives in their neighborhoods, at churches, or within their businesses. At the very least, simply spreading the word about ASAP and our projects goes a long way in helping us connect with communities.
7. What are your deepest needs as an organization?
We desperately need a permanent place to call our own! We currently rent space in a warehouse that while allows our volunteers a workshop, is in a desolate location and just does not have the space or facilities we need to succeed (like running water!). Any donation towards this goal will go far in helping us root and grow within our community and help change lives worldwide – one tool at a time.