Emily Ramirez, sister of GBA Board Member and GUTG founder Maria Brown, hosted a fun and influential rice and beans dinner to kick off GUTG in 2015. GBA recently had the chance to interview Emily about why and how she planned her dinner and what advice she has for others who are seeking to get involved. Emily herself got involved with GBA after Maria and her husband Kevin adopted their son Oliver from DR Congo in 2012. “Kevin and Maria have done an amazing job at staying involved in his birth country by learning about it and serving where able,” Emily says. “As they started learning more about GBA, Maria became increasingly passionate about the work that was being done and the lives that were being changed through them. Her passion spilled out into most of our conversations, which in turn made us desire to involve ourselves where able as well.”
GUTG was founded by Maria and her family in 2014, with the aim of supporting GBA’s work through everyday offerings. Emily’s rice and beans dinner and many other unique and thoughtful instances of giving were born out of this idea of personal connections and personal gifts. Emily explains what GUTG means: “The fundraiser was asking for others to sacrifice something once a month with the goal of giving the amount you saved through sacrificing to GBA. Being a family of four and on a tight budget, this practical way of giving fit us perfectly. We were able to come up with our creative way of giving as a family, in order for each one of us to be involved, and donate the money joyfully once we completed our ‘sacrifice’ for the month. As a way to pass on that joy, we decided to ask our community group to get involved in GUTG.”
Emily decided on a rice and beans dinner after seeing the idea on the GUTG blog, an event that had also previously done by Maria’s family. She and her family first hosted a rice and beans dinner last year and decided to reprise the event in 2015. “We shared this idea with our community group to get the creative juices flowing and sure enough someone in our group shouted out the idea to eat rice and beans altogether,” Emily remarks. “We all agreed this seemed like a more practical way for our entire group to get involved and complete the challenge. Our community group is always looking for ways to serve others, so it wasn't a hard idea to sell. We simply put a night on the calendar for us to come together at our house and share a rice and bean dinner together. We put a donation jar out in the middle of the table so everyone participating could donate the money they would have spent on dinner that evening if they hadn't chosen rice and beans instead. Rice and beans aren't only cheap but also extremely easy to make, so it wasn't a hard dinner to host in the least.”
“Last year our main goal was to involve our community group in giving to the Congo. However, this year our goals were a little different. We still wanted to collect donations, but we also wanted to inform our group more about GBA and the work they are doing in the Congo. We did this by skyping Maria during our time together and having her tell us about GBA. After talking with Maria, we took time to pray for the Congo and the children that are being ministered to through GBA. We not only walked away with more knowledge about The Congo and GBA, but our desire to serve this country grew stronger.” Emily reports that the event raised $81.64 for GBA. Emily encourages others to plan an event or activity that practices the idea of “Giving Up to Give.” She wants others to know that, “It is so easy and extremely rewarding!”
As for the future, Emily thinks there may be another rice and beans dinner on the horizon. Planning a rice and beans dinner, giving up a birthday gift, forgoing a daily coffee, and many other small intentional acts of giving back are all easy ways to benefit GBA and the children of College de Saviors. Invite a few friends to participate, get creative, and let us know what you come up with! Stay tuned for more GUTG ideas and profiles.