Volunteer Program Story

Joseph Shin

Volunteer Program

Your Personal Strengths Are Enough

Joseph Shin is a volunteer for the Korean Foster Family Initiative. He has lived all over the world following his passions in fashion and apparel design. Shin is the founder and director of PRISMA Fashion Design School in Los Angeles, California. From 1999-2012, Shin was the Vice President of fashion retailer Forever 21.

In order to foster a healthy community, individuals need access to emotional assistance— that is, a safe haven for thoughts and feelings. One night, I stumbled upon a television commercial about Korean American Family Services and thought, ‘Wow, this is exactly what the Korean American community needs.’ I lived in Italy and abroad for most of my life, so I know what it’s like to have to start afresh in another country as an immigrant. Having to create your own sense of home and belonging in new spaces is really difficult. Instinctively, I was drawn to KFAM and understood why an organization like KFAM is so important to Los Angeles, a city with one of the largest Korean immigrant populations.

"Having to create your own sense of home and belonging in new spaces is really difficult. Instinctively, I was drawn to KFAM and understood why an organization like KFAM is so important to Los Angeles, a city with one of the largest Korean immigrant populations."

Volunteer Story
When I first visited KFAM to learn about the work they did, I felt an immediate connection to the agency. Over the next couple of weeks, a foster family was kind enough to let me be a part of their lives. Since I had no previous experience as a volunteer in this capacity, I responded to their needs with my natural inclinations: with clothing and fashion design.
 

Near the holidays for KFAM’s Christmas Gift Drive, we made arrangements to clothe other foster children. Most children, or any human being for that matter, feel loved when somebody else takes the time to choose and give them a personal gift— beyond the actual gift itself lays a message of love, a message that they are not alone and are cared for. I imagine that as the children unwrap their gifts they feel the compassion I feel for them; perhaps their faces show some signs of hope—a twinkle in the eye or a crevice of joy peeking through the corners of their mouths, reassuring them that beyond the past and this present will lie a greater future, if they choose to accept it.

"Most children, or any human being for that matter, feel loved when somebody else takes the time to choose and give them a personal gift— beyond the actual gift itself lays a message of love, a message that they are not alone and are cared for."

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