Not many people can say they helped to found and run a nonprofit organization for over a decade. Even less people can say that at just 22-years-old. However, with the inspiration of a friend in need, the help of her mother, and a lot of passion, Jasmine Durden is one of those people.
At just age nine, the Georgia woman started the Jasmine House Foundation, a nonprofit that provides outreach and support to children and families throughout Atlanta. Throughout the year, the Jasmine House Foundation holds about eight events, from toy drives for the less fortunate to birthday bashes for foster children who wouldn’t be celebrating otherwise. In addition to the events, the foundation also provides resources such as toiletries and school supplies all throughout the year to those in need. Jasmine, who recently graduated Georgia State with a degree in kinesiology, said almost every decision she makes is framed around how it can impact and benefit her nonprofit. Her goal is to open up an outreach center in metro Atlanta that will be able to more directly impact families in the area by providing tutoring, job assistance, food and clothing, and more.
For the years of support and love she has shown those in need within her community, Jasmine is today’s Daily Point of Light Award recipient. Points of Light spoke with her to learn more about the Jasmine House Foundation.
Describe your volunteer role with the Jasmine House Foundation.
I started my foundation when I was nine. I’m the founder of the foundation and we do outreach throughout the year like coat drives, school supplies drives, feeding the less fortunate, mentoring children in shelters, sponsoring girls for prom, mainly helping out the community. The goal for my nonprofit one day is to open up an outreach center so I can give resources to families in Georgia who are in need.
What would the outreach center do for children in the area?
Provide them with tutoring, incorporate music for stress relief, being able to get clothing, food pantry, and just that compassion they may need and their families need. We also want incorporate job/work thing, so they can come and try to find work for themselves and so they can get back on their feet, so their kids can see that they’re trying, that there is somebody that cares.
What inspired you to create this foundation?
It started when I was in the third grade. There was a girl in my class who was a foster child and she came to school one day telling me about how she would have to move and was going to be separated from her sibling. That really touched me so I went home and told my mom about it and, being so young, she was saying there’s ways I could help. I started going around to the community and collecting coats and taking them to children’s shelters. So I would say that girl inspired me to want to start my foundation.
Once I started to go around collecting coats and taking them to the children’s shelters, I saw the impact that it made. More people started wanting to volunteer and help so that’s when my mom said that this is becoming something she likes to do, and we just said we’re going to take it to the next level. We started going downtown and feeding the less fortunate and from there it started to be more and more. We started escalating and started helping more.
What kind of impact has the Jasmine House Foundation had on those it is helping?
I think it’s had a big impact. I think a lot of people, knowing that I’m such a young adult, that somebody my age is able to make an impact and wants to love on others, I feel like it has a great impact. I love seeing people smile and be amazed when I tell them about at all the things I’m trying to do, even some of the kids we help. We do a birthday bash for foster children because they don’t really get to celebrate their birthday. We did this about a month ago and got toys for them, set up stations for them to play games, karaoke, and just seeing the kids have that break for four hours and having a good time and smiling and hugging me and saying this is amazing, it makes me feel good inside.
Have you seen the Jasmine House Foundation have an effect on the community as a whole, aside from those you’re directly helping?
Yes, I think it has had an effect on the community. As far as even the people I know that help or volunteer, even peers my age, they’re just amazed by what I do and they want to help and they want to give back. I feel like it’s also getting the young adults to be able to have an impact and knowing that everything is not green, there are people out there that are really in need, especially kids. When I’m able to be around the kids and talk to them, they’re just so excited, they hug me. Even adults sometimes when we go downtown, they just want to hug me, they really appreciate it, so I think it makes a big impact to show them that somebody actually does care. People are doing a lot but when we sit down and talk to them and get that type of personal relationship, I feel like it shows you care.
Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?
I would say when we have our silent auction. We usually do that in September and that will probably be our next thing that we do. It’s an opportunity for the community to come out and see what we do for the community and an opportunity for us to be able to get funds and donations to be able to keep helping others. I feel like that’s my favorite event. I can express what I want to do with my foundation and what my goal is.
What inspires the different events you do? How do you find that need within the community?
I have a board so basically we come together, we brainstorm different issues or things we may see that we feel like is a need. We come together and try to brainstorm different ideas and that’s how we come up with most of our things. The Open Heart Campaign was actually something my mom came up with. … So I feel like it’s just a group decision. I don’t want to take the credit for everything, I feel like it’s an effort from everyone, to just come up with different things we think are smart to move for the community without trying to do too much. And being able to get donations and stuff and having the volunteers helps us out too.
Can you describe what the Open Heart Campaign is?
Toys for Tots is one of my sponsors, so we go to Toys for Tots and we get all the toys and if we have to, we buy more toys to add to that. We allow the community to come in, we open the doors and tell people we’re giving out Christmas toys. We have music, entertainment, food, and when they come in, they choose the gifts they want for their children and we wrap them for them and we give them to them. It’s kind of like a secret Santa, just come get your toys, wrap it, enjoy some music, food, and we give it out to the community. We changed it up actually about two years ago. It started out with us getting the toys, wrapping them, and taking them to children’s shelters but now we allow some of the foster children or families to come in and get the toys.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
I learned a lot. I learned to just have patience, and know that everything doesn’t happen right away. Take time and have compassion for what your heart wants to do and your desires. Because I’ve been doing it for awhile and I think it’s just been kind of a test for me. You want things to happen fast — ‘I need this, I want my resource center now, I want this,’ and I know everything doesn’t need to happen right away. I learned to be patient and appreciate what I can do for the community right now.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
I think it’s important for others to give back because you know you’re helping someone, it makes you feel good inside, and we all have to help each other, we all have to have a helping hand. One person helping another person, then they help somebody else, creates a circle of compassion and love, so I feel it’s very important to help each other.
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