About Aina: Our Story

The Story of Smudge

or, why hope matters

Meet Aina (A fun story of how you can change the world without leaving your jammies).

It all begins with a Smudge on the Floor.

In 2011 Carmen was that smudge. Pretty sure we've all been there - that place where life has just kicked the living crap out of you. Well, Carmen's kicking came in the form of health problems, a lot of loneliness (raising kiddos on an island very far from family), and then the judo chop - a diagnosis that the next baby to join the family wasn't, actually, going to join the family during this lifetime.


So how did Carmen un-smudge? A neighbor - one that she didn't know very well - cooked up some hope for the future. Literally. As Carmen said goodbye to her wee baby girl, this neighbor came to her house, watched the older kiddos and she made the family chicken soup. And Carmen walked in the door, a smudge on the floor.

And it smelled like home.

And it felt like family.

And it was exactly what she needed to rebuild her hope in the world. Because right then Carmen had lost a beautiful, sweet, precious piece of her family, and she needed a hand out to pick her up and show her that there was hope for the future. And that is when she realized that, in times of smudge, we all need a hand of hope.

Fast Forward to Ebola.

During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Carmen got kind of fearbola-ish (Seriously. She's a wee bit obsessive) and decided she desperately needed to DO something to help. After listening to a story on the Diane Rehm Show (Love you Diane!), she decided to contact the organization that had asked for volunteers on the show. She emailed them and offered her services.

No Dice.

They only wanted medical volunteers that could travel to Africa. Yep. Not her. With a couple of kids to tie her down (love you kiddos!) and responsibilities she couldn't throw over, that wasn't going to happen. So she asked them what she could do from home.

Well Obvi! They asked for money.

Well yeah, ok, so we all donate money to charity. She wanted to DO something instead of feel helpless about the news. So she said she'd start a volunteer program FOR them, for free, just to help other people get involved.

Crickets. They said they really just wanted money.

Feeling that this was ridiculous, she went on a two-month Google binge to figure out how she could help with Ebola.

Nothin. Not a darn thing.

So, being the Type A person that Carmen truly is, she decided to go for it and start her own company (we've all been there, right? Right??). Kristin was the first person that Carmen told, and being the amazing person that Kristin is, she said she'd help out in any way. After about a year of finding phenomenal organizations (it's hard to weed them out from the not-so-great organizations), Kristin decided to adopt Aina as her own baby and became a co-founder of our newly minted LLC.

So here's where you come in. Because what we do?

It's so people like you can change the world.

Change the world from home. Without traveling to Africa, L.A., or Afghanistan. And we have some AMAZING projects you can do to help this big ol' world of ours. You can do them on your own or with friends - we've got almost 100 different options for you to choose from.

It's been a crazy ride. And we've only just begun.

We've gone through some really weird ideas and some really, really intense discussions, but here we are. There has been an amazing amount of support and help from massive numbers of people along the way. Bless you for your love and nurturing. Aina is because of you.