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West Hartford Teen Fills ‘Ark,’ Named Heifer International Youth Ambassador

Courtesy image

Rose Kitz of West Hartford, an eighth grader at King Philip Middle School, started off fundraising as a QuEST project at school but is now in the process of filling her second ‘ark’ to benefit Heifer International.

Courtesy image

Courtesy image

By Ronni Newton

What started off as a middle school project in the spring of 2015 turned into a significant donation to Heifer International and a role for West Hartford teen Rose Kitz as youth ambassador on the international stage at the Global Citizen Festival last fall.

Rose was part of the QuEST (gifted and talented) program at King Philip Middle School, and said she chose social media marketing for her seventh grade project. Rose already appreciated the impact of community service through work she had done through Kidz Kare, an organization of kids helping kids in area homeless shelters, and at first thought she would compare the impact of fundraising through social media with more traditional methods that other students were using, QuEST teacher Jeanne Pascon said. When that wasn’t going to work out for various reasons, Rose came up with a new plan.

Rose had heard about Heifer International through her mother and learned that some of her mother’s co-workers were interested in donating to the organization that is dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty. She decided to work alone on the fundraiser for her QuEST project.

Heifer International doesn’t just give money to the poor and hungry. While the non-profit has many programs, it has become most well known for giving animals. According to Heifer International’s website, “Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood.”

“She’s just such a motivated kid. She’s intrinsically motivated and she pushes herself so hard,” Pascon said.

Rose’s goal was not just to give one animal; she wanted to give an ark with 16 animals, which cost $5,000. She set up a fundraising page through Heifer International, created a Facebook page called “Rosie’s Ark,” and her teacher helped promote the campaign through King Philip’s Twitter account.

“In the beginning [fundraising] was really slow, but Facebook helped a lot when I was able to contact all of the people my mom knew,” Rose said. She also held a fundraiser at the school.

Rose Kitz (left) with two of the other youth ambassadors at the Global Youth Conference in New York City. Courtesy photo

Rose Kitz (left) with two of the other youth ambassadors at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City. Courtesy photo

To generate more interest and connection, Rose had people name the animals. “For example if a trio of ducks cost $50 and you buy one you can name it,” she said. In July she announced on Facebook that “Charlie, Cookie, Sunshine, Star, Bella, Gracie, Clover, Pepper, Rhody, Lucy and their buddies are now on Rosie’s Ark!”

“As I was raising the first $5,000 the earthquake in Nepal happened. I saw the opportunity to raise money for them and they also had an angel donor so the money would be doubled,” Rose said. She was able to raise the $5,000 in about 60 days from 51 donors.

Because of her energy, efforts, and dedication, Rose was chosen by Heifer International to represent the organization as a global youth ambassador at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City in September 2015. She shared the stage with about a dozen youth ambassadors from other organizations, as well as Queen Rania of Jordan and Salma Hayek-Pinault.

“It was a really cool experience. There were world leaders there like [First Lady] Michelle Obama, [Vice President] Joe Biden, and the queen of Jordan. Stephen Colbert was also there. Michelle Obama’s speech was really inspirational,” Rose said of the experience.

Click here to watch the MSNBC video of the Youth Ambassadors.

Pascon said that she tries to get her students to see the world from a global perspective, and although she has had some QuEST students do well in national competition for History Day or gain recognition from local organizations, Rose’s success far exceeded anything she has seen.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever had anyone standing on an international stage before,” Pascon said.

Even though her initial goal was met and her QuEST project was long since completed, Rose wanted to keep on fundraising.

“Heifer has raised all the money they were looking to raise for Nepal, but I’m continuing to raise for Heifer where it’s needed the most,” said Rose. She’s hoping to raise another $5,000 (for $10,000 total) to fill another ark. To date she has raised $2,441 through 22 donors.

Pascon is thrilled with Rose’s success and the fact that she has continued raising funds. “This is over, over, and above what we can accomplish in the QuEST classroom,” she said.

Rose will be having fundraisers at upcoming concerts at King Philip and is also keeping her Facebook page active.

“It would be great to see some additional West Hartford support to reach the full $10,000 goal,” Rose said.

To help fill Rosie’s Ark, click here to visit her fundraising page. You can also follow Rosie’s Ark on Facebook to keep updated on her fundraising activities.

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