The feature story below was written by Gregory Ingraham as part of an assignment for The Selling Power of Storytelling class, Spring 2021, at St. John Fisher College. Doctor Monica A. Hodis, Associate Professor of Marketing, selected Pack for a Purpose as a client for her class. Gregory Ingraham chose Marcus Cotton as the person they wished to interview and write a story about.
As a partner in a public accounting firm, Kristen Hoyle works almost exclusively with nonprofit organizations. Kristen became friends with Rebecca Rothney (PFAP founder) through a women’s networking organization many years ago. When Rebecca shared the mission of Pack for a Purpose, Kristen knew she wanted to be part of it and volunteer her nonprofit financial skills to help support the organization.
In addition to her financial skills, Kristen has extensive experience traveling extensively. She has been traveling since she was 11 when her first overseas trip was with her grandparents to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Belize, Mexico, Ireland, England, Italy, Canada, Zimbabwe, and Israel are all destinations Kristen has traveled.
Kristen loved traveling but was only able to plan a trip every few years. She had been involved with Pack for a Purpose since the beginning but did not have the opportunity to participate in the program. Then one day she was notified that Pack for a Purpose needed a representative to attend an international tourism conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Kristen was so excited by the thought of seeing Africa for the first time. She decided to make it a family trip and bring her husband, Tim, and their 16-year-old daughter, Katherine, along as it was an excellent opportunity to experience a unique corner of the planet. Kristen and Tim believe it is important to expose young people to the diversity our world has to offer. Kristen said, “I think it is very important for children and young adults to see other cultures and see how fortunate they are.”
After landing in Africa, they first spent some time on a short safari in the Samburu District of Kenya. The thrill of seeing the animals was amazing. But the detail that stuck out the most to Kristen was the dichotomy between the luxury camps, tiny local villages, and miles and miles of impoverished areas around the city. She didn’t realize the extent of the poverty until she saw it. As they rode in a car through the slums of Nairobi, they realized just how important Pack for a Purpose was. The support Pack for a Purpose offers makes a real difference in people’s lives. Her family had just experienced so much beauty on the safari and felt it was only right to thank the people of Kenya. What better way to thank them, than to bring much needed supplies to a school and health care clinic?
Later in the trip her family had the privilege of going to the school to distribute the supplies they packed. They will never forget how thankful and excited the children were to receive a pen, a pencil, and one crayon. The children shouted with joy and waved their prized new possessions over their heads. Seeing how important these supplies were to the children impacted her and her family. These small simple items would allow these children to practice writing, drawing and math. Items, which in the western world were of almost no value, brought an immeasurable amount of joy and opportunity to the children. This experience is one Kristen and her family could never forget. In addition to the school, her family was also able to visit a health clinic to deliver badly needed supplies. Because of these supplies, Kristen’s family had a direct impact on lives of others halfway around the world they had never met. Kristen said, “A great thing about this organization (Pack for a Purpose) is it is so family centric and family focused. You not only can get your children involved in collecting supplies, packing up the supplies, and then taking delivering the supplies, your children can see other children their age at the schools and it helps them get outside their little bubble.”
Traveling the world and helping to make an impact has become a passion for Kristen. That first experience changed her and changed her goals for her life. She and Tim want to spend their retirement traveling the world and engaging in voluntourism. Kristen wants to use her finance skills to help organizations find financial stability while Tim wants to use his construction skills to help manage and expand projects. They love the joy they experience when helping others in different parts of the world. Packing for a Purpose has given Kristen and her husband a new purpose by giving them opportunities to make a positive impact. That first trip where Kristen was able pack for a purpose has changed the trajectory of her life. She is now even more passionate to be involved with Pack for a Purpose and excited every day to be a part of the change for good the organization is facilitating.