Celebrating our Sarasota Tribe: 7 Questions for Beth Knopik

When we talk about collaboration, a town in Florida called Sarasota comes to mind immediately. Gathered around the beautiful spirit of the late Leanna Knopik as well as the Michaels on East “family”, since 2013 our organisation has grown and thrived thanks to the extraordinary ability of the Sarasota tribe to support digital education in Africa via the All Heart Fund, which benefits Good Work Foundation.

Leanna’s mother, Beth Knopik, has been one of the gatherers of this “tribe.” In a troubled world, her uncomplicated way of easily and naturally following her heart inspires us.

In today’s blog, we ask Beth seven questions. Beth’s answers are short and sweet, but her truths don’t need many words. One of our favourite quotes from the interview is: “We are all ONE in the spiritual sense.”

1. Leanna helped you start the beautiful mission of the All Heart Fund. What do you think drew her to want to volunteer in Africa? What was it about your trip to South Africa that really connected and spoke to Leanna? 

During our trip to Cape Town in 2011, we passed miles and miles of shanty towns while driving along the highway, and that visual truly impacted Leanna.  She saw a need and felt she could do something to help.

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An extract from Leanna’s diary.

2. The work of the All Heart Fund takes place in South Africa, a long way from home in Florida. Many Americans ask why they should support the development of education in another country? What would you answer to that?

When it comes to service, allow your heart to guide you. Leanna felt a deep connection to the land and people in South Africa and chose to reach beyond the borders of our country and help children. After all, we are all ONE in the spiritual sense.

3. You have visited the Hazyview Digital Learning Campus, a digital learning center in rural South Africa that is supported by the All Heart Fund. For supporters of the All Heart Fund who have not had the chance to visit, can you describe the campus and what it meant to you to visit it?

The Hazyview Digital Learning Campus is a bright and cheerful place. Students are engaged and display a true love of learning. They are all sponges, soaking up as much as possible during their visits. The staff is warm and friendly; it’s a nurturing learning environment.

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The Open Learning Academy at Hazyview Digital Learning Campus.

4. Do you think that Sarasota-based donors of the All Heart Fund realise the impact of the contribution that is made at each ‘Safari Sarasota’ event?

We try our best to explain the impact of every dollar, so I believe they have a sense.  But I believe most won’t truly appreciate the value of their contributions until they visit the center. I have received feedback from guests who are deeply moved by the fundraising event and felt that they are making a difference. A dollar in the US goes a long way in South Africa.

5. Our children often guide us and teach us as much as we teach them? What are the most important lessons that you have learnt from your children? 

I have learned to live more in the moment, acknowledge and appreciate my blessings, and to trust in God’s plan.

Leanna and her brother, Rogers

Leanna and her brother, Rogers

6. There is a new generation of young people (the “Millenials”) emerging against a backdrop of an increasingly troubled world. According to studies they are more inclined to be focused on values-driven activities and they want to collaborate and share. Do you believe this generation is going to change the world?

I believe that each person can change the world, not just one generation. I strongly feel that we are collectively evolving to a place of enlightenment. It’s a movement of sorts, though I can’t explain why we still have wars.

7. How do you think parents can encourage their children to become more aware and involved in activities that have a positive impact on their community, country and the world? Is there an approach that you and Steve have taken as parents?

I must give the Montessori education credit for most of the influence placed on my children from a global standpoint as the Montessori classroom in early childhood teaches world geography. By age 8, Leanna had drawn the continent of Africa, named each country and further distinguished them by color (cut out of construction paper). With regard to national and local philanthropy, we give as a family to many organizations and our church has organized mission trips for children in which Leanna has participated. Here is a perfect example of, “It takes a village.”

About Leanna Knopik

Leanna’s time on earth was brief. At the age of 16, she passed away suddenly after contracting a rare heart infection. Despite her lost battle, she fought exceptionally hard during her final days, surprising even her physicians.

But Leanna’s heart always guided her path in life. She was very passionate about her faith and loved helping others throughout her community and beyond.  A family trip to South Africa was a life-changing experience for her.  She felt a sincere connection to the South African people and wanted to work as a missionary, helping children in schools and orphanages.

Leanna’s loving friends and family often remember her as “all heart.”

The All Heart Fund

Leanna never had the chance to volunteer in Africa, so in the spirit of her heart’s wishes, the All Heart Fund was created in 2013 to provide the resources and education necessary to enhance the lives of rural African families.

The All Heart Fund, supporting Good Work Foundation, creates opportunities for students to travel to larger communities and cities for unique educational and leadership experiences and to connect with real-life businesses. The fund also benefits the Open Learning Academy that provides digital learning to thousands of primary (elementary) school children, supplementing their formal education with ‘gamified’ English and math learning experiences. In addition, one special student is chosen each year to receive the Leanna Knopik Cup, an award which honours the student who demonstrates the biggest “heart.”

To donate to the All Heart Fund, click here. Donations are received by the Leap Foundation and all proceeds go to Good Work Foundation.

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