Hello to all who are reading this!
I’ve been asked so many times why I started The Freedom Scholarship Fund so I thought it might be appropriate at this time to tell you why I created the fund. I really wanted ARMY to understand what this scholarship fund is all about and a little about me personally so you can start to trust my fundraising efforts.
I, like others, am always skeptical about giving money to a stranger. That is why I have worked so incredibly hard to establish trust from my donors over the past four years. Our scholarship fund is an open book. I disclose every penny we receive and where it goes and insist that the organizations that we donate to specify the dollar amount given in each acknowledgment letter we receive. It’s to make sure that my donors know exactly where their money is going.
So let me tell you a little about me….
I have been fund raising for different causes for over 35 years now. I have probably raised and donated over $100,000.00 to charitable organizations. I came from a one working parent family, my mom was a stay at home mom and my dad was the only one bringing in an income. They sent three children to private school so there wasn’t a lot of money left over for other things at the end of the week. However, my parents taught me that giving back to those less fortunate was important and for that reason they always seemed to find a little extra money to support a charity. With that in mind as soon as I was able to work and had my own money I started either donating money to charity or giving of my time to a charitable organization.
I was married at age twenty and I put off having a family for the first eight years. I wanted to travel and experience things that I was not able to do while living at home with my parents.. One of those things was to travel around the USA as a fan of singer Barry Manilow. My husband was a gem and accepted my love for Barry and his music. With that support, I continued following Barry’s career for many years. Along the way I met some pretty fabulous friends and developed a relationship with Barry’s staff. I also raised enough money to establish two scholarship funds at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia in Barry’s name. I was able to decorate Barry’s dressing rooms in many of the arena’s that he performed at over the course of the eight year period that I followed his career. I had a great time and I have wonderful memories that I will carry with me from those experiences.
I became pregnant in the eighth year of my marriage and knew at that point my traveling would have to stop. Unfortunately I suffered a miscarriage which was followed by heartbreaking years of infertility and five more miscarriages. However I am happy to tell you that I have a son who is now married with a family of his own. I love being a grandparent there is nothing like it.
Along the way I developed an appreciation for George Michael and his music. I was a WHAM fan when no one knew who George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were back in 1978. I can still remember the excitement I felt the first time I saw WHAM in concert, it was magical. I continued to follow WHAM until they ended the duo and then when George went solo. George’s first solo LP was called FAITH! While on complete bed rest trying to save one of my pregnancies I asked my husband to stop by a record shop (yes we had those back then) and pick me up a copy of FAITH. I must have listened to that LP a million times while on bed rest. I loved it instantly and so my devotion to George continued as a huge fangirl collecting posters, tee shirts, LP’s, books, magazines just about anything I could get my hands on for years.
When I got the news that George Michael had passed away I was devastated. George and his music helped me while I was in bed trying to save multiple pregnancies. He will always hold a special place in my heart for keeping me from going insane during a very difficult time in my life. After he passed, the public found out about the millions of dollars he donated in silence to numerous charitable organizations (and individuals) without asking for accolades or praise. I wanted to do something to honor him and continue his acts of kindness and that is why I created The Freedom Scholarship Fund in 2018.
So let’s talk about the Freedom Scholarship Fund and the BTS campaign…..
The Freedom Scholarship Fund
We are an all volunteer staff. We accept no salaries for the time we put into this charity. Since its conception the scholarship fund has raised (with the help of some very generous George Michael fans and an all volunteer staff) and donated $25,000 to organizations involving children in the field of music, art, hunger, literacy, suicide prevention and LGBTQ+ youth.
How did BTS became part of the Scholarship Fund
I am always searching for worthwhile organizations for the scholarship fund to support and that is when I found BTS and their commitment to UNICEF. I have to admit I didn’t know a lot about the Kpop group but I did have a few of their songs on my playlist. I decided to do some research about them and see what they were all about. As I continued to read article after article I became more and more invested in these young men and loved what they stood for. As a mother and grandmother my heart went out to their difficult rise to fame. So I discussed with the other members of my volunteer staff and we decided that we would support BTS and their UNICEF commitment by raising donations for the Love Myself campaign.
I was a little stumped at first thinking how I was going to get this campaign off the ground when I didn’t have any BTS merchandise to sell or raffle like I did with Barry and George. Both of their staff members were extremely cooperative to provide incredible items for me to offer to the fans. We had donations from famed photographers who photographed George during his career, autographed items, rare merchandise and much more to raise money but had nothing for BTS.
I tried to get in touch with BTS management and quickly realized that this Kpop sensation was way too big for me to contact their people but it wasn’t going to stop me from trying hard to make this campaign a HUGE success.
I knew if I could come up with unique items to sell that it would make money for us to donate to UNICEF. One night while I was asleep I came up with this idea for jewelry that was BTS inspired. I knew that if I didn’t get up right at that moment and write my concept idea down I would lose it by morning but I didn’t want to get out of bed. Now you will think I am crazy for saying this but I heard George (Michael) say “get up Roseann and write this down before you forget” and that pushed me out of bed.
The next day I discussed my concept with one of my staff members who has helped me many times to design other jewelry products for the scholarship fund. She took my concept and came up with two amazing pieces of BTS inspired jewelry. I knew that these pieces would be loved by ARMY and so with my own personal money I contracted a jewelry manufacturer to make 100 of each piece.
I contacted UNICEF and arranged for us to work alongside them on this project as an Official Event. We received our official UNICEF acceptance letter and we were on our way.
Continue reading about our first three official donations in honor of BTS Min Yoongi (Suga), Kim Namjoon (RM) and Jimin Park (Jimin) here!