by Chelsea Nelson

Communications Director

I am always truly inspired to hear about people in our communities and neighborhoods who are so committed to volunteering their time to make our world a better place.  As a woman who finds herself “too busy” so often, hearing stories about people who make time, in spite of being just as busy as everyone else in this world, leaves me incredibly inspired to do more.

Gabrielle Ernest is one of these awesome people, right here in our community, who despite a busy schedule of work and being a full-time student (and so many other things), has given an incredible amount back to our community.  Gabrielle started volunteering with her family at a young age when they would work in the Bountiful Food Pantry or out delivering food to the elderly or homeless.  When Gabrielle was 11, her family started working with the International Rescue Committee and she became involved with a refugee family and started donating things she didn’t need anymore, or babysitting while the parents attended English classes.  This volunteer frame of mind continued to stick with Gabrielle through high school when she went on a medical mission to Africa as well as traveled to China to help in an orphanage for her graduation trip.  Because of her experiences, Gabrielle became passionate about refugees and decided to major in International Studies and Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Utah.

But, Gabrielle’s drive to give back, didn’t end there.

Gabrielle felt that starting a non-profit would be the next step in giving back to the refugee population in Utah.  And, for the past 8 months, she has sacrificed her personal time and has donated financially to her cause.  Gabrielle (at age 19), along with Ronda Ernest, started Education for Generations, a non-profit that “supports and provides economical/social and learning opportunities for underprivileged families and communities domestically and internationally to enhance their lives, which will impact their future generations.” And, although Gabrielle and Ronda experienced some struggles with licensing, developing bylaws, meeting government and IRS guidelines, maintaining financial statements and many other things that starting a non-profit organization consists of, they pushed forward because of a love for volunteering.  Gabrielle has volunteered at least 10 hours a week for the past 8 months to get Education for Generations off the ground.  She has also created the name, developed the website, filed the financial paperwork to become a qualified non-profit, and has done extensive fundraising.

Gabrielle would love to grow the organization so that the ‘working budget can accommodate clients who are struggling with their educational needs and not necessarily in the traditional sense but an education that will help them and their children’s future become more self-sustaining.”

It is incredible to see the passion and devotion that Gabrielle has for volunteerism and the refugee community.  For me, it is also a wonderful story about families volunteering together and how a love for volunteerism and helping others can be born and fostered.  We are grateful for Gabrielle’s commitment to making our community a better place and embracing a way of life that encompasses LIVING UNITED on every level.

Thanks to Ronda Ernest for sending Gabrielle’s story to UWSL!