By Erica Goodwin, Heifer global communications manager
Lifelong Heifer supporter Leia Gluckman proves passion knows no age limit. Her first memory of being involved with the nonprofit — at age 5 — was during the premier of a Heifer documentary called 12 Stones at the Television Academy in North Hollywood, California. According to her mother, Judy Friedman, attendees found the precocious preschooler irresistible in her simple explanations of how Heifer animals help people.
The experience fueled her love for educating others. Since then, Gluckman, now 12, has embraced her participation in other events including a fundraiser called Ark in the Park and a reading of Beatrice’s Goat at the Saban Theater, both in Beverly Hills. Gluckman attributes her affection for the organization to her mother’s long-time devotion to Heifer’s work. Friedman is a leader in organizing and hosting events in the greater Los Angeles area, which have all involved her daughter. At 10, Heifer’s mission took on a deeper meaning for Gluckman when she visited a Heifer project in Vietnam and even witnessed a Passing on the Gift ceremony.
“Traveling to Vietnam was one of my favorite experiences,” she said. “I enjoyed seeing the people I’ve helped and what I have become a part of. I got to see people who had never been able to give before and heard them say, ‘Sixteen months ago, I was where you are today, and now this is where I am.’ It was a powerful moment, and I am grateful to have observed that.”
After the ceremony, Gluckman was able to see homes recipients had built and even met a girl close to her age. Despite the language barrier, the girls were still able to communicate — in a way — as the girl showed Gluckman her home and animals. “I was glad to see I could help make someone happy and that I had made a difference in someone’s life,” she said.
When Gluckman turned 12 in May, in lieu of an elaborate party for her Bat Mitzvah, she opted to celebrate her coming of age with a trip to Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. With the help of her mother, the pair invited 18 friends to attend Women’s Lambing Weekend with them at the Ranch.
Women ranging in age from 11 to 70 from cities throughout the United States gathered in Arkansas for a memorable weekend. Most of them had never met before, but they formed fast friendships. “We witnessed how everyone got along during the trip and bonded over shared experiences,” Friedman said. “It was reminiscent of women in Heifer projects. Being part of Heifer builds an incredible sense of camaraderie for women in the villages. Both in Vietnam and at the Ranch, we saw how women are empowered just by interacting and connecting with other women.”
For Gluckman, the future holds limitless opportunities. Passion and purpose drive her to make the world a better place. She plans to continue supporting Heifer through various events and speaking engagements in hopes of raising awareness about ending hunger and poverty. Ultimately, Gluckman said she hopes to take a more hands-on role in volunteering with Heifer in the future.
Learn more about planning a trip to Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas.
Heifer supporter Justin Chang lives in Korea, but his heart is in Nepal. A high school student at Seoul International School, Chang joined the mission to end hunger and poverty six years ago when he and his classmates began raising money for Heifer International.
Chang visited Nepal on a mountain climbing expedition only months before the 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people. Chang reacted by launching a fundraiser, and in July 2016 he traveled back to the recovering country to deliver a $5,000 check to Heifer Nepal.
You too can show support for families in Nepal and other places around the world by becoming a Heifer fundraiser.