Nicole Reyes is the definition of an altruistic soul. A true boss, who launched her own non-profit organization with the hopes of aspiring change in the world. Dando Luz are gearing up for their second annual back to school drive this year and we caught up with the young philanthropist to find out more about her organization and what inspired her to take action.
What is Dando Luz?
Dando Luz is a non-profit organization named after my grandmother Luz Azcona and the main focus of my non-profit is working with teens and kids, enlightening them and empowering them in the best way that I can.
What made you start your own non-profit organization?
There’s a lot of things really that inspired me, or that inspired me to finally start it. It was last year when I went to Cuba and on that trip, it was a grateful moment for me because – first I was grateful to be there. I think when you work so hard and you’re on a vacation, you’re in such a gratifying moment and then I was also reading this book and in the book, it stated that you don’t have to wait till you have a successful career or a lot of money to do what you want to do. So, me being able to motivate kids, inspire them, work with them, is something that I always wanted to do. When I came back from Cuba I came back determined to start it and to make it a legal non-profit.
Did you face any challenges in starting up your own non-profit organization?
The challenges are still there, it’s a huge challenge because for anybody that has started a non-profit there’s a lot of money that goes into it. Legalizing the name of your non-profit cost money, there’s just a lot of things that go into it. When I started my non-profit, there wasn’t a lot of people contributing, and it’s still not a well-known non-profit organization. There isn’t a lot of people that donate or support. So, even when I started it a lot of the things came from my hard work and a few friends, and family, friends of family, and friends of friends, who have donated. Having a non-profit is a lot, from doing the events and contacting people, trying to get it together, the events itself there’s a lot of things that come before it. It continues to – I’m not going to say it’s a challenge – in order to grow whether it’s my non-profit or events that I do it’s always going to be a little harder to reach people and even when I’m talking to the kids to being able to reach them in an effective way. There are different challenges whether its money wise or just being effective in my message or in what I’m intending to teach to whoever I’m speaking to.
What message do you hope to send to the youth, and people in general?
The message that I want to send is that we were created to communicate love and there is absolutely no way that we are going to heal as a nation, as a community, or as a person if we don’t love one another. There are so many people in pain, there so many people who need it and I want everybody to know that we were created to communicate love. I hope that I’m able more so with my actions and with the love that I’m trying to communicate to inspire these kids and teenagers not only to be successful but to be kind hearted because a lot of times we do teach these kids academically but we don’t teach them mentally , we don’t teach them emotionally, we don’t help them in that aspect and a lot of times when kids fail academically is because there not well emotionally or mentally and we must empower one another in order for us to grow and to be able to move forward.
How can people get involved?
Definitely, by visiting my website Dando Luz, anyone can get involved, donate, and they can see any upcoming or past projects that I’ve done. For example, I don’t have any events right now but we do have the book back drive. But in May I had a girl empowerment seminar that I host for girls here in my hometown, East Orange. There I had volunteers but every time that I have an event I always post something so that people can get involve and volunteer. There’s been a lot of people reaching out to me from other organizations that want to team up with me through my website.
For others that want to start their own non-profit organization, what advice and tips would you give to them?
Well just like in everything I think that you must really want to do it and you must really be willing to work. Personally me, I just started my own non-profit organization so there’s just so much more I have to learn. The first main thing if you want to start a nonprofit is, what is your goal? I knew from the moment I started my own non-profit that I wanted to focus on kids and teens. Second, you have to put love first because obviously if you’re doing this is because you want to help so you have to be able to have a lot of love and have a lot of patience, because if it’s an organization to help people you must be willing to work hard and like anything else, like a career you have to love it in order to enjoy it. One of the things that I didn’t know before starting my nonprofit is that there’s a lot of money that goes behind it, legalizing the name, legalizing the non-profit, it’s a whole process.
Let's all help give some light to the youth, check out the clip below for more details on Dando Luz.