By Kevin Harden |

Southeast Portland’s Pauline Lewis has tweeted her way to Ethiopia.

It’s not a pleasure trip. Lewis, 44, chief brand officer for Portland’s UpRaise Consulting, is one of three big winners in Travelocity’s Travel for Good contest this month. She will travel to Ethiopia late this year or early next year to volunteer with the Selamta Family Project, which helps establish families from marginalized Ethiopian women and orphans or abandoned children.

“Working with nonprofits has been a lifelong passion of mine,” Lewis said in a Travelocity announcement of her award. “I can’t wait to immerse myself by meeting the families, learning from them and working to bring back individual stories so that people in the U.S. can feel as connected to Selamta families as I do.”

Lewis was chosen Oct. 15 by Travelocity as a Dream Voluntourism Trip Winner from among thousands of Twitter and Tumblr entries for her passion to help those in need across the globe, according to the Dallas, Texas, company. “We continue to be inspired by the incredible submissions to the Travel for Good program,” said Ashley Parker, senior brand manager and head of the Travel for Good program. “Pauline’s love for helping orphaned children in need is an inspiration to us all and we are thrilled to assist in making her ‘voluntourism’ dream possible.”

Travel for Good is Travelocity’s contest to send people on all-expense-paid trips to volunteer for causes around the world. The online travel planning company’s contest was held annually for several years, then went on hiatus until it was restarted this year.

In addition to her paid trip to Ethiopia, Lewis’ Sept. 30 tweet also earned the Selamta Family Project of Lake Placid, Fla., a $10,000 donation from Travelocity. Marisa Stam, Selamta Family Project executive director, said the donation would be “an extraordinary boost for our program.” The money will cover costs for two Selamta family homes for a year, she said.

“That means two families, each including eight to 10 orphaned children, a mother and a supportive auntie, will receive everything they need to make their house a home concerning rent, utilities, food and household maintenance,” Stam said.

Tweet of LewisLewis learned about the Selamta Family Project through her marketing work with UpRaise, a small firm that helps nonprofits across the nation raise money and market their services. Her tweet was simple: Lewis (@PortlandPauline) wrote that she wanted to “create forever families” in Ethiopia.

Lewis chose Selamta Family Project because of its work with Ethiopian orphans, abandoned children and women who have been shoved out of traditional society because of illness, divorce or other reasons. The group creates families by pairing two marginalized women with up to 10 children. Many of the families have stayed together for years, according to Selamta.

Lewis’ Ethiopia trip will also give her a chance to heal from the loss of her mother, Suzie Chan, who died in mid-March. The pain of her mother’s death pushed Lewis to find a way to help others.

“When I heard about this organization, it struck a chord with me,” she said. “I lost my mom earlier this year to cancer, so the idea of helping someone else create a new family appealed to me. One of the best ways for me to work through my grief is through working in service to others. That’s a very Portland idea, to make things better for people in need.”

Lewis plans to visit Ethiopia with Stam, when their schedules allow the trip. Stam said the group is “thrilled” and “can’t wait to welcome Pauline to Selamta Family Project in Ethiopia.”

“It can be difficult to fully understand the magnitude of our program from a distance, but once you meet our staff and enjoy a meal in a family home, you quickly understand that Selamta is so much more than a traditional orphan care program,” Stam said. “We are creating permanent families that bond together, heal together and grow together.”

Source: Portland Tribune
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