AEO Building a Better World Volunteer of the Month: Yuri, Associate Director – Aerie Design

AEO associates share our commitment to doing better, being better and building a better world. We’re proud to spotlight our people who are making a real and lasting impact in their communities.

Meet Yuri, Associate Design Director for Aerie. In her six years volunteering for Many Hopes, Yuri has traveled the globe—from Ghana to Guatemala—and witnessed firsthand the impact one child can have on a community.

Tell us about your volunteer service at your favorite organization!

My favorite organization to volunteer with is Many Hopes, a non-profit with a mission to save children from situations of extreme abuse such as child slavery, sexual abuse, homelessness, and raise them to become agents of change through rehabilitation and education. I’ve known some of the children in this organization for 6+years as well as the leaders, and it is truly remarkable to witness the transformation in the children as they grow and become advocates for others impacting everyone around them!

Why is volunteering at that organization important to you?

I visited the sites in Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Bolivia, Guatemala; I spoke with the leaders and met with the children. I have seen firsthand the impact one child can bring to a community and how passionate they are about fighting the same injustices they suffered. I hope for a world where many of these children are empowered to become leaders and advocates and the circles of influence continue to ripple through communities.

How many years have you been volunteering there? How many years have you regularly volunteered in your community? 

6 years at Many Hopes. More recently, through our church, my husband and I became familiar with two other organizations called Father’s Heart Ministry NYC and City Relief, that work on hunger prevention in NYC through a soup kitchen and food pantry. Their mission is to help people move from poverty to prosperity, dependency to dignity. We’ve been working with them for 2-3 years! This past fall, the Aerie design team volunteered with City Relief and we are excited to continue partnering with this incredible organization.

How do you think that being an active participant in your community helps to Build a Better World?

I think when we can’t see ourselves in those who suffer around us it creates a greater divide. Volunteering has helped me bridge the gap to understand a broader definition of community to include those who don’t look like me, who I may never have interacted with formally. I never realized how much of an impact I could make with a simple smile or kind word, that something small to me whether it’s my time or finances, can completely change someone else’s trajectory. We can never know the impact of our small act and how it will ripple into this world!

What are some of the benefits you have found in volunteering? What have you learned?

So much! A softer heart and greater compassion. Gratitude.