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Get Ready for the Next 30 Days

Get ready to share Infinite Families exciting 30 Day Countdown – new partnerships, new programs, our first green facility – even the heat isn’t slowing us down! 

The next 30 days promise to be exciting and packed with great new news.  Stay tuned for timely news and updates on Facebook, Linked In, our Blog and Twitter on the following:

·       First ever joint partnerships with BT and IS

·       Video mentoring pilot at Tau Rapulana School

·        Our first “green lab launch” created out of recycled container

·        Introduction of the My Infinite Possibilities Project

·        New Corporate Sponsorships

·        Our Fall Festivities with Colin Cowie

·        And of course, Mandela Day history and activities

·        And so much more!

We are excited for you to Like, Connect, Watch and Follow as we share the excitement…and ofcourse, look forward to your comments.  Please make sure that you have follow us on LinkedIn, “Liked” us on Facebookfollowing us on Twitter, read are blogs on Tumblr, and watch our videos on YouTube

Keep Those Great Lab Names Coming!

       

The Name the Lab contest is well underway and Infinite Family has received over 100 name suggestions.  We are proud that so many mentors, teens, partners and other fans of Infinite Family have contributed their ideas.  Please continue to contribute any and all ideas about the lab.  Remember we want this lab to have a name that is inspirational, individual, interesting and innovative. We want everyone who sees it to know that inside, are young South Africans who are reaching out to the world, preparing to lead full, healthy and hopeful lives. These South Africans are being taught, encouraged and loved by their mentors all over the globe. This lab name should represent our resilient teens as well as our inspiring mentors.

Suggested names will be three words or less and posted on the Infinite Family Facebook page.   All submissions must be received by midnight EST on Friday, June 22th.  Names submitted after midnight EST on June 22th, will not be accepted.

The new lab name will be chosen by a panel of Infinite Family Directors and Advisors.  The person who suggests the new lab name will receive a copy of Mentor Tammi Deville’s book, “Changing the World on a Tuesday Night”, featuring Infinite Family, and a $25 gift card.  The winner will also be profiled on our new web site and in an upcoming issue of our newsletter, Infinite Family, Keeping in Touch.  (Note: While we’ll do our best to choose a name from those submitted, we can’t promise it.)

Thank you for sharing all your great ideas and please continue to do so.

Jun 8

It always seems impossible until its done.

- Nelson Mandela

Jun 8

Help Infinite Family Name the New Lab

Our fantastic new mentoring lab, donated by BT and Internet Solutions, is almost ready for delivery to our Alexandra site at Realogile High School.  This will be the first of many planned new labs.

It’s so special that we’d like to name it, and who best to help us than our closest friends and colleagues.  We are looking for a name that is inspirational like our mentors, individual and interesting like our Net Buddies, and innovative like Infinite Family.  We want everyone who sees it to know that inside this very special place are young South Africans who are reaching out to the world, preparing to lead full, hopeful and healthy lives.

Some names that have already been suggested are Champion’s Place and Hero’s Place because both our Net Buddies and mentors are champions and heroes.   But we think there are better ideas out there, and we’d like your help.

Suggested names should be three words or less and must be posted on the Infinite Family Facebook page.   All submissions must be received by midnight EDT on Friday, June 22th.  Names submitted after midnight EST on June 22th, will not be accepted.

The new lab name, chosen by a panel of Infinite Family Directors and Advisors, will be announced on Wednesday, June 20.  The person who suggests the new lab name will receive a copy of Mentor Tammi Deville’s book, “Changing the World on a Tuesday Night”, featuring Infinite Family, and a $25 gift card.  The winner will also be profiled on our new web site and in an upcoming issue of our newsletter, Infinite Family, Keeping in Touch.  (Note: While we’ll do our best to choose a name from those submitted, we can’t promise it.)

Thank you in advance for sharing all your great ideas.

                                           —-Amy

What to do when you meet a bear in the woods OR my sound doesn’t work…HELP!

So, your sound is crappy.  You can’t hear your Net Buddy and it is beyond frustrating.  You know you need to smile at the young, hopeful person on your computer screen, but you are near ready to tear out your hair with the futility of getting your VC to work.

Does this sound familiar?

Well, I’m going to tell you a story.

A few years back when I was backpacking through Glacier National Park, there was a really bad bear problem.  Bears were being sighted everywhere and attacks against hikers were mounting.

The Park Rangers would drill us with what to do if we ran into a bear.  If we didn’t answer with their memorized litany of instructions, we were taken to task and given “THE TALK” again.  ”Make LOTS of noise while hiking.  Shout, sing, clap your hands as you round each bend.  If you do run into a bear, get small, back away slowly, and don’t make eye contact.  If the bear continues to advance. lie on the ground in a fetal position and wrap your arms around your head to blunt the trauma of the attack.”

Saying, “Well, I’ve never run into a bear so far and I don’t like making noise in the forest” would get you a withering stare and THE TALK again.

So, I’m about to give you the Infinite Family version of the Park Ranger TALK.

If you run into sound problems, make sure you are using a WIRED CONNECTION and a headset with a microphone.  DO NOT use a wireless connection or connect via your 3G or your phone.  DO NOT use the speakers on your computer or the mic that comes with your webcam.

AND yes, we understand you don’t always have time to plug into a wired connection and that sometimes it works fine.  And YES, we understand that you have always gotten away without using a headset and that it has worked in the past…

But the reality is, eventually, you ARE going to run into a sound problem…and THE TALK will keep you from ripping out all your hair in frustration.

Just like the rangers said to me, if you don’t take the precautions, you are highly likely to run into a bear along the path.  And quite frankly, I’d rather sing a little off tune Beatles to the bear in the woods than lie down amongst the roots and rocks watching my life flash before my eyes.

"My name is Zamokuhle and I like to eat."

Ask my son to introduce himself and he might say he likes soccer, or playing the drums or drawing…but that he likes to eat?  Not much of a chance.

So, when the Video Mentors of Infinite Family see Zamokuhle’s blogpost on the Ezomndeni Net, and it begins with the introduction “My name is Zamokuhle and I like to eat.” they know they are being introduced to a world unlike their own.

Our Net Buddy’s blogs are windows into a world that few of us ever really experience.  The simple phrases they use define the landscape of their lives in profound ways.

“My name is Lebohang I live with my sister. She is the head of the house.”

“My name is Ncesh. I don’t have a friend and I don’t know how to make one.”

“Hey I would like to tell you about my birthday. It is sad because I have lost my mother before my birthday.”

The Video Mentors of Infinite Family enter into the world of our Net Buddies, sit with them and share their stories, their struggles and help them find that friend, deal with their loss and see a more hopeful future.

And how do we know this?  We read the blogs.

"HI, I AM KUDINA AND I AM TURNING 14 YEARS OLD THIS YEAR AND IN GRADE 9.  I AM SO EXCITED THAT NEXT YEAR I WILL BE CHOOSING A CAREER AND  AND KNOWING THE MEANING OF LIFE!"

We hope that you will join Infinite Family as a supporter, donor, or mentor. Your world will become broader and more meaningful as you join these courageous children on their journey toward independence and hope. 

Video Mentors: The Next Generation of Mentoring

       

Taped to my office wall is a receipt.  The back of that receipt is an Infinite Family time capsule…my doodles and scribbles as Amy Stokes and I tried to come up with the name for our organization and our volunteer mentors way back in 2005.

We did hit on one thing that stuck. That scrap of paper bears the words “Net Buddies”, which we use to this day to describe the relationship our mentors and mentees build with one another.

And buddies they are.  Planning for the future, sharing music and laughter, struggling over math problems or creating art online — our Net Buddies brighten each others’ worlds every week via webcam and whiteboard during their weekly video chats.

Our Net Buddies have expanded the definition of mentoring relationships.  They’ve taken them global and they’ve taken them online.  They have perfected the art of screen sharing as well as the chemistry of what makes mentoring relationships tick.

So, during Volunteer Appreciation Week, we would like to thank all of you, our Net Buddies, who make Infinite Family what it is today.

Our gratitude for our Video Mentors is best expressed by one of our South African Net Buddies as she recently wrote:

"I love Infinite Family very, very much. Thank you for changing my life. Since I’ve been a Net Buddy things have been changed in my life because I’m not doing wrong things in the street.  Now I can see my English is getting better, I’m doing my school work, being serious on my goals and my future."

We’ve done lots of great things together.  We’ve made a lot of great strides and the future is bright. 

And just to let you know another good choice we made…we didn’t pick our name to be International Family Interconnection.  That name just hangs on that scrap of paper on my wall, reminding me that not every idea is a good one!  

Insipiring Top 10 CNN Hero Award Show

  

Although Amy Stokes, Founder and Executive Director of Infinite Family, was not chosen as the top CNN Hero of 2011, she was one of an inspirational few to grace the stage on December 11th during the live broadcast. 
Amy’s journey as a CNN Hero would never have happened had it not been for you all:

  • The Video Mentors who spend hours in preparation in order to understand and guide their Net Buddy. 
  • The Net Buddies who show up each week in order to learn and grow and achieve with the guidance of their mentor.  
  • All of you and all of the IF staff and board who pour your hearts and souls into Amy’s vision…into this wonderful thing we call Infinite Family.


So we thank you. 

For loyally voting each day and enduring that “captcha” over and over again.
For telling your friends and family and cajolling them to vote, too. 
For all the Facebook posts and emails and postcards you passed out. 
For every hopeful action you took to support Amy’s bid for CNN HERO, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Of all the things we saw during the CNN Heroes Tribute Show, one of the most inspiring was to see the faces of our buddies and our mentors beaming full of hope and excitement for all the world to see.  The world knows about their work now.  They are inspiring millions across the globe.

Our Net Buddies really, truly are OUR HEROES. We are so glad that now the world knows, too.

We thank you again.

Dana

Save the Children launches Video Chat in Bolivia with Infinite Family!


For the first time, Infinite Family is bringing its unique video technology and video conferencing expertise to Save the Children’s sponsored children in Oruro, Bolivia.  35 children there are seeing and speaking with their American sponsors via video conversation technology over the internet, providing a personal connection between sponsors and children that has not previously been possible.

Infinite Family pioneered face-to-face video mentoring using technology in 2006 and has continued to improve its capabilities so that the children and their sponsors have optimal connections during their weekly 30-minute video chats.  Save the Children is a world leader in creating educational and community development programs that support children growing up in very challenging circumstances.  They have been working with Infinite Family since early 2010 to design and develop a video conversation platform that meets Save the Children’s unique needs.
STC sponsors were trained in the technology over a two-week period and have been connected with their sponsored children since mid-May for their video chats. “I can’t think of a better way to support Save the Children’s mission than to create a personal bond with my sponsored child in this way,” said one of the sponsors.
Founder and Executive Director Amy Stokes says, “We are thrilled to work with Save the Children to add the power of worldwide personal relationships as another way their committed sponsors can play an increasing role in helping the children they support financially.  And, we are excited to extend the reach of video mentoring to children in South America.”

BBC Outlook: Video Mentoring with Infinite Family

Mbali and Sheila, Net Buddies with Infinite Family since 2007, share their story of connection across cultures and generations in this moving BBC piece. 

Catch Mbali and Sheila’s story at 18:40, directly following the piece on the Belarus underground theater company.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00fvmx1#synopsis