Lea Haisch, Girl Gives Back

Lea Haisch, Girl Gives Back

Describe the organization you volunteer for and your role in the foundation.

The Open Suitcase is a non-profit global market, staffed entirely by volunteers, that distributes the proceeds into communities around the world as well as locally. We cultivate relationships with artisans, and connect them with consumers by offering their products in our store. This not only provides them an income but restores hope and dignity to a person who otherwise may not have an outlet to sell their creations.

Tell us something about the journey that led you to the organization.

In 2006 I went to India and stayed with a pastor and his family. They live in a small village and take care of the local orphans, street, and village children. They also take care of widows, people with leprosy, and poor tribal pastors. I have returned five times since then and started Answer the Call, a non-profit 501(c)(3), so that we could be accountable for all funds raised. During this time the door opened for relationships in several other countries. During my travels I met many skilled artisans and saw the potential to open a shop to sell their items and use the proceeds to help equip and empower those who are less fortunate.

What motivates you to stay involved?

I have a relationship with many of the people whose items we carry. I know that for every sale we have and every donation to Answer the Call there will be a huge impact in someone’s life. Knowing that we are providing wells, food, medicine, job skills, and so much more makes it easy for me to stay motived. We are making a difference. I work at Black Hills Works Monday through Friday and work most Saturdays and some evenings at the shop.

Describe one of your favorite moments you’ve experienced while volunteering.

I have many favorite moments, but telling customers the stories behind the products is a highlight for me. I love to see how the stories bridge a gap between the person making the purchase to the culture and person who made it. I also love all the connections we have made since being open, the opportunity to carry items from women who are marginalized, and helping raise awareness of human trafficking as a whole, in our state as well as internationally.

Why do you believe it is important to volunteer?

Our shop relies fully on volunteers. This enables us to use the profits to help improve the lives of those in need. We have many future dreams and goals as we move forward, including expanding and enlarging our orphanage in India. We can only do what we do through the help of our awesome volunteers who have a heart to help be the change.

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