Extreme poverty impacts people worldwide, and in five countries, Mentors International is looking to make a change.
The locally-based non-profit celebrated its annual gala, raising over $173,000, at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, on Nov. 8.
The organization provides low-interst business loans to individuals to help them lift themselves out of poverty. An estimated 3.3 million people have been helped by the organization's programming—people like Lucia de Ponce in El Salvador.
Before coming in contact with Mentors, she ran a small food stand, barely making enough money to survive. Now, Mentors has helped her to run a small restaurant, where she earns enough money to support her family.
Mentors also helped Evelyn Dennison, who started a business creating butterflies and birds from used stockings and wire, in the Philippines. At the gala, Dennison's butterflies graced the dinner tables and centerpieces.
All donations from the event went toward the small business loans, since the gala costs were completely covered by sponsors, like doTerra, a local company who runs the Healing Hands Foundation, which teaches impoverished people around the world to be self-reliant.
The night also honored Mary Ellen Smoot, the 13th general president of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who also introduced the idea of the gala. "I am thrilled with how far and how fast [Mentors] has come," she says. "They have great leaders who are doing the right thing for the right reasons, and that's to help the individual families."
Taryn Green, who was a volunteer for Mentors in the Phillipines also spoke at the event. "Mentors International is the answer to the greatest need the world has ever known," she says.
Mark Petersen, President and CEO of Mentors gave the closing address. "Because the demand for loans are there now, the approved applications are on the desks of our directors now," he says.
Now, they're on their way to hitting a $400,000 goal to cover those loans.