Growing Minds is Back to Benefit Ethiopian Education!

This post is contributed by Jenna Freed, Member of the Roots Ethiopia 2015 Travel Team.

On April 16th, we are gathering under the stars once again to Light The Path to Brighter Futures in Ethiopia. Our second annual Growing Minds Fundraiser will be a celebration of all that was accomplished at last year’s event and a renewed dedication for all we can do in 2016. The event will be held in Glen Cove on Long Island.


Since the success of last year’s inaugural Growing Minds Event, I’ve been asked many times how I got involved with Roots Ethiopia. The truth of that story is one of gain in a time of great loss for me. It’s a story that I am grateful for every day with circumstances I would never change.

June 6th, 2014 was the day my whole life would be flipped upside down. I lost full use of my right hand, my dominant hand, after a twisted accident involving a glass canister and stairs. After 7 hours of surgery, my surgeon came into the room with the update,

“It’s uncertain what you will be able to do from here out. This is a long term injury.”

I spent the next 6 months in agony going to occupational therapy three times a week for three hours each session and with little improvement as a whole. After a disappointing visit the internationally recognized Philadelphia Hand Center, where they told me I had accomplished more than they would ever expect and that they would advise me to accept where I was at physically, I decided that my daily life needed another focus, a bigger mission, a greater purpose than improving or accepting my hand. I immediately turned my focus to Ethiopia, the birthplace of my daughter and a place that held my heart since my first visit in 2009.

Having admired the work of Roots Ethiopia since its inception and having great respect for Meghan Walsh, I reached out. How would she like it if I were to host a “little event” here in New York and perhaps broaden the reach of Roots Ethiopia? The details were vague, the purpose was BIG and in a moment of great faith from Meghan she jumped behind the idea with the full support of herself and the whole Roots Ethiopia Team!


The night of the event was one of the greatest moments of my life. The little Rec Hall at my children’s school was filled with teachers & administrators who care about children everywhere and were excited to leap with two feet into the mission. There were family members of the Roots Team from all over who were proud of our involvement with this cause. There were friends who have heard us all talk admirably about this great country and its beautiful citizens. The room was filled with sincere intention, beauty, and generosity from every guest. We tripled our fundraising goal and this “little event” became a must-have annual event immediately!

Out of the loss of one hand grew the gathering of hundreds of hands all excited to lift up a community halfway around the world–and lift up we did!

Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in Africa, specifically helping Southern Ethiopia. Roots Ethiopia supports community identified solutions for job creation and education.

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