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Happy Birthday to both Aura (18) and Aura’s House (7)!

30 June 2011 6 Comments

Help us Celebrate and win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or $100 Donation to Your Favorite Charity.

To celebrate our birthday, we are raffling off a $100 Amazon Gift Card OR a $100 donation to the Charity or Firstgving Project of your choice (donated by me) to one lucky Aura’s House donor. All you need to do to enter is to donate at least $7 to any of our current projects between June 30, 2011 and July 15, 2011 at 5PM EST.  Each additional donation of any amount over $7 will get you another entry up until July 15, 2011.  (So if you also decide to donate $25 for example, that would get you three entries.) The winner will be chosen at random on or before July 20, 2011 and notified by email and shortly after the gift card or donation will be on its way. Whomever wins can choose which they would prefer. So many of Aura’s House supporters are also raising funds for their own sponsored children on Firstgiving.com, so please spread the word to your fund raising friends. (Aura’s House partners and interns are not eligible to enter. Sorry guys!)

On or before July 20, 2011 my 21 month-old son Lukas will pick a name from a hat, and as long as he doesn’t eat the name before we can read it, the winner will be chosen and notified. We’ll then wait to hear back via email from the winner which they would prefer- the gift card or the donation.

Happy Seventh Birthday Aura’s House!

Aura’s House was first launched on this day back in 2004 as a humble web page with one simple (but daunting) goal: to raise $4500 to build a safe, sturdy brick home for my sponsored child Aura Yesenia Solis Hernandez (age 10 at the time) and her family of Guatemala. See Aura’s family’s NEW HOME!
See their old house.

The old mud house and their new home (2005) before they added the final touches.

Happy Eighteenth Birthday Aura!

Aura also is a (gulp) ADULT today as she turns 18 on the same day as the website that bears her name. No big deal right? Except that it was a freakish coincidence that the two dates coincided. In 2006 when AH partner, Anastasia Yecke and I visited Aura and her family in Guatemala, we learned that her birthday is actually June 30th as well! (My updates from Children International always said June 6th on them.)  Sniff. My little baby is all grown up! 🙂

Thanks to our wonderful donors, she is now attending high school to earn a teaching certificate that will allow her to teach elementary school in her village. She graduates in December and will then attend University! I couldn’t be more proud or grateful.  View Aura’s Tuition project.

Site’s History and Partners

Never having ever participated in so much as a bake-sale before this project, I dutifully contacted, bugged, and pestered everyone I knew.  After about 5 months, it was done. $4500 raised, plus $500 for furniture and $700 for Aura’s school. Way more than I could have imagined.

Thanks to Anastasia Yecke (the first donor at the site whom I didn’t already know), she convinced me to keep the site going so we could raise more funds for needy families around the world. Today I have six wonderful and amazing partners who make this site possible: Anastasia Yecke, Mike Epler (whom I met while volunteering in Tanzania), Christina Sidoti (my former web student at William Paterson University in NJ.), Heather LaBonte Efthymiou (an amazing volunteer turned partner), Courtenay Honeycutt (one of our first donors turned partner) and Inga Katelari (yet another amazing volunteer turned partner.)

We also have had some wonderful interns over the past year and a half; Alexia Pilleris, Refat Ara Jerin, and currently, Elise Cevetello.   I seriously would have burned out a long time ago without them and without our wonderful supporters. THANK YOU so much for all you do. See a full list of all the wonderful volunteers we are thankful for.

What has Aura’s House done in 7 years? Well…

  • To date: raised over $75,000 for needy families.
  • Completed 51 Projects Total including:  10 Housing and Roof Repair Projects, 7 Education Projects, 12 Income Generation Projects, 2 Emergency Projects, 17 Household Needs Projects, and 1 Community Water Well Project.
  • Inspired “Sponsorthon” at Children International which is now the Lift One Project.
  • Worked with the non profit organizations: Children International, Kenya Kids in Need, The American University of Rome, The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and Child Focus Fund.
  • Currently has 3 active projects to help provide income generation businesses, education support, and supplies to needy families in The Philippines and the USA.

Children from the Sto. Nino Elementary School in the Philippines thanking Aura's House donors for raising funds for a new classroom. (2006.)

Help us celebrate!

Please consider donating as little as $7 to one or more of our active projects. It is only through the accumulation of small donations from normal, everyday people that have enabled us to help so many needy families around the world. We may not be Bill Gates or Oprah, but we can all do our small part to make the world a little better for those trying to overcome extreme poverty. Consider helping a family who will never be able to repay you. (*Plus you may win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or $100 Donation to your favorite charity which would be a nice bonus along with the non-material reward of helping fellow human beings.)

You can also email this post to seven of your friends or post a link to us on Facebook, Digg, or Twitter.
Thanks so much! Happy Birthday Aura’s House and Happy Birthday Aura!

Best wishes,

Kristen Palana
Founder of Aura’s House

Some of the 126 children in India who were given school tuition thanks to Aura's House donors. (2011)




  • Dorothee said:

    Happy birthday! Wow, 7 years of helping families around the world! You’re all heroes in my book!

  • Kristen (author) said:

    Aw shucks! Thanks Dorothee. It hasn’t been easy, since none of us are professional fund raisers or anything. (I actually hate asking people for money.) But it’s interesting how when you put a good intention to help out there, the projects always seem to fund no matter how slowly. We average about $12,000 in donations a year (with 100% of that going to our projects) which I figure is $12,000 more than we’d be giving if the site didn’t exist. I hope we can keep things going. 🙂

  • Inga said:

    Happy Birthday!! 🙂

  • Liza said:

    Congratulations on the amazing assistance you have given to children, families, and communities over the last seven years. It’s wonderful how many people are so enthusiastic about joining together to help those in extreme need. Here’s to many more productive and rewarding years.

  • Refat Ara Jerin said:

    Happy Happy Birthday to Aura and Aura’s House!!! =)

  • Anastasia said:

    Wow, it is amazing what we’ve all accomplished. But none of it would exist if not for Kristen’s vision and determination to see it through. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AURA’S HOUSE!!! XOXOXO

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