How a film inspired the birth of an organization in Colorado which is empowering people at home, across the country and around the world.
The word jovial brings to mind joy, happiness, and bliss. For Kristina Welch, it is much more than just a word. It is her life. Five years ago, Welch began a non-profit organization centered on the ideas of community, stewardship, and peace. This organization came to be known as Jovial Concepts. “I feel the word jovial describes our initiative and purpose. We want our volunteer events to be fun and enjoyable while making other’s lives better.”
Why has she dedicated herself to strive for peace every day? “The world needs it,” says Welch. “Peace is whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be as big as ending wars or violence, it can mean finding peace within yourself.”
Where did the inspiration come from to begin this organization? While in college studying Philosophy and English, Welch went on a volunteer trip abroad to Costa Rica and actively participated with many non-profit organizations. In 2009, she saw the documentary “Peace One Day” (see trailer below) that sparked an idea which Welch eventually put into motion. Despite her passion, it wasn’t easy making this dream into a reality. “The most difficult part of starting Jovial Concepts was choosing not to listen to everyone who told me I should just let it go and get a ‘real job.’ This is the most I have struggled financially and it is the happiest I have ever been,” says Welch. Luckily, she had a great support system and pressed on.
Armed with her Philosophy degree that taught her to “think outside the box, ask questions, and think logically,” Welch had the confidence to begin an organization that has grown significantly since its first year.
Over the years, Jovial Concepts has grown to include over 400 total volunteer participants. They have developed Jovial Futures, a program that launches this year to offer 100 children in Colorado the opportunity to explore their “sparks”, attend educational youth camps, team up with mentors, and more.
Looking back on how far the organization has come, Welch reflects on their triumphs, “I think the greatest success is just seeing so many people locally come together and making a difference. We are unique from other organizations because we are initiative focused which allows us to incorporate great community ideas.”
Last year a woman, who emigrated from Mexico, approached the Jovial Concepts team at their Peace Day event with a dream. She had recently visited Gugulethu, South Africa and after witnessing a young girl playing jump rope with a withering string, she wanted to give hula-hoops and jump ropes to kids in need. Welch and her team took the request and turned it into the Jump for Joy fundraiser. They were able to donate 700 hula-hoops and jump ropes to children in South Africa. “That to me was a huge accomplishment,” says Welch.
As the founder of Jovial Concepts, Welch’s goal is to “create positive change” and as a woman leading an organization she hopes to “break the mold.” Furthermore, she stated, “I am honored that I have the opportunity to demonstrate to young girls and women that we are just as capable of creating change as our male counterparts, while simultaneously offering a perspective that men cannot. For real peace to happen, we need balance and diversity among our leaders.”
What’s her key message? “Get Involved,” says Welch. “Whether it’s with us or someone else, if you get involved locally and globally to help others, we will have a better world.”
One way you can get involved right now with Jovial Concepts is their annual Peace Contest for 2014. This contest allows members of the community to submit their ideas for improving both local and global societies. Seven of these ideas will be chosen as winners and the individual or group will be awarded funding to make their project a reality.
Learn more about this innovative organization at jovialconcepts.org.
Melissa McGowan is a Jovial Concepts volunteer with a passion for helping others.