President's Diary

Demet Yezgi is the founding president of Friends of Anatolia, a California based young nonprofit, and this is her blog...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Amazing News: Two challenge gifts --$5,000 each-- for education

Hello All,

I am so pleased to announce that this week we have recevied two challenge gifts for Yildiztepe Elementary School.

1- $5,000 was pledged by Yavuz and Sibel Sert of Sacramento, California
2- $5,000 was pledged by Turkish Cultural Foundation

We need to raise $10,000 to match these gifts by May 20,2006. When we do that these gifts will benefit Yildiztepe Elementary School and the matching funds will benefit the rest of the education projects that we carry out this year in Turkey.

Since our wonderful webadmin (Tugsan Topcuoglu) is still serving at the Turkish army, I wanted to let you know from here. He will be back this Monday and publish all the details of these gifts on our website.

However, this shall not stop you from donating or spreading the word.
Please visit our donation page and make a generous gift to help match these challenge gifts and improve the education condition of poor kids.

We work hard to bring you good news, now it is your turn to "make a difference" and "feel good!"

A happy and proud president

Monday, April 17, 2006

Back to California

Hello All,

I have just completed a very tiring but incredibly efficient two week tour to the East Coast, in which I went to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC (Maryland and Virginia), North Carolina, Atlanta, and New York again, then back to Califrnia...

I met with wonderful people who were very interested in what we do and promised to support our work. I also had a chance to introduce details about Friends of Anatolia as well as our past and future projects. I shared my knowledge about nonprofits with others to hel their organizations grow. Finally, I aimed to recruit more volunteers and raise some funds, and these went very well, too.

I have great photos and stories to share with you, but first I have to catch up with my school work and several hundred emails in my mailbox. Our great webadmin Tugsan will be back from his military service in Turkey soon. I am hoping that he will help me with putting these on our website. I will also try to write brief reports from each of my meetings.

It is nice to be back to sunny California! and millions of thanks to everyone who helped me with this trip by organizing the meetings, offering their houses as a place to stay, driving me around, introducing our work to their friends. This was an amazing "community building" experience.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Plans for Washington DC Trip

Dear all,

Below are some of the plans for the D.C. If you are living in the area, please come and join me.

Demet Yezgi

Turkish Student Association of the George Washington University kindly invites you to a presentation on:

Friends of Anatolia: Inspiring Story of a California-Based NGO Supporting Peace and Prosperity through Primary Education in Turkey

Come and learn about this exciting story and how you can be a part of it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006
6.00pm - 8.00pm
Marvin Center 402,
800 21st Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20052

Speaker:Ms. Demet Yezgi, Founder and President, The Friends of Anatolia

For questions


Organized by Demet Cabbar

A presentation on Friends of Anatolia and the challenges of NGOs in achieving civil participation in developing countries

Thursday, April 6, 2006
12:30-1:30pm at World Bank, Washington D.C.
(closed event)

Speaker: Demet Yezgi

Organized by Demet Cabbar

An Informal gathering/ happy hour with Young Professionals in DC area

Thursday, April 6, 2006
7:00-9:30pm at a local bar
Networking and socializing event

Guest: Demet Yezgi

Organized by Gunay Evinc

A presentation on Friends of Anatolia and stronger Turkish nonprofits
April 5, 2006
Luncheon with Turkish-American nonprofit leaders
(closed event)
An interview with Voice of America (for TV and radio)

The Most Active Nonprofit of 2005

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to inform you that Turkuaz magazine, an US based Turkish-American magazine, has announced Friends of Anatolia as the Most Active Nonprofit of 2005.

Thank you all who made this possible. We continue working hard in 2006, too.


Notes from visit to Pennsylvania

Dear Friends,

After a busy trip in NY, Turgay and I drove to Philadelphia early Sunday morning. It was a very nice and unusually sunny day when we arrived our host's Ozlem and Vedat's home.

The first meeting we had was at Ozlem and Vedat's house. They set a very nice atmosphere for us and prepared delicious food. There, I presented Friends of Anatolia and talked about how to strengthen Turkish-American nonprofits. The crowd was small but very attantive: Ibrahim, Birtan, Dilek were from TAFSUS. Musa, Ishaq, Caroline, Asiya, Bircan, Selcuk, and Muhamad were Ozlem and Vedat's friends. They all have heard about our activities for the first time. After the meeting, Ibrahim send me an e-mail note saying that he already made his donation.

Later that evening, Ozlem and Vedat took us to a lovely dinner at Konak Restaurant. The owner Birgul not only prepared a great meal for us, but also took her time to learn about Friends of Anatolia, then she generously offered to host and sponsor a dinner for Friends of Anatolia on May 18, 2006 to help raise funds for education projects in Turkey.

The next day, Ozlem took us to a wonderful event at La Salle University: Sen Sahir Silan's speech and book signing (her book is called I Do Not Regret) What an amazing personality she is. During Q&A, I said a few things and that little comment introduced me to the rest of the audience.

After the event, many people showed interest to learn about Friends of Anatolia and we exchanged cards. (Nilgun, Yagmur, Bill, Cornelia, Shonta, Vivienne, Kathleen, Umut, and Yusuf are some of them.) Overall, I felt very fortunate for being at the right time and right place (special thanks to Ozlem!)

Some results:
1- We will organize a dinner for May 18 in Konak Restaurant.
2- I might come back to PA to give a speech at Temple University that Nilgun will arrange.
3- TAFSUS will bring our education projects to their Board.

Tomorrow we will be going to Washington D.C.

Demet Yezgi

Notes from First New York Visit (March 31 - April 1)

Hello Dear Friends,

I started my tour from New York. The purpose was to meet with our volunteers and arrange the meetings for the later visit in April 13. Turgay Turgut, our volunteer intern from Germany, is accompanying to me.

During this visit, Turgay and I have met with some existing supporters as well as new volunteers. The first day, we had a nice social dinner meeting with Samir, Banu, Oguzhan, and Mike.

Then the evening continued with a few of us at another volunteer's home. We met with Ozgur and Gonca there and had a great planning session.

The following day, we met with another group of socially responsible people: Selen, Senay, Duygu and Filiz. We discussed many issues related the growth of Turkish civil society.

That evening, there was a party organized by Eurocircle at the Turkish Consulate. Turgay and I went to the very end of it to meet with a few more people and we had a chance to talk to Vice Consul Ceyhun about our upcoming visit.

Overall, everybody seemed to enjoy the growth of Friends of Anatolia and wanted to help one way or another. Hopefully these meetings will empower people to get involved even more.

It seems like we will have at least three meetings planned for our next visit in April 13.
1 - Introducing Friends of Anatolia in Columbia University (open to public)
2- Strenthening Turkish nonprofits (mostly for nonprofit leaders)
3- Discussing the future of Friends of Anatolia (with volunteers)

I will give you more updates soon.

Demet Yezgi

PS. Many thanks to Mike for hosting us at his apartment in Manhattan and helping us save money.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tour to East Coast

Dear Friends,

We have been planning a Friends of Anatolia Tour to the East Coast between March 31 and April 18. The main purpose of this tour is to introduce Friends of Anatolia, to create awareness about the giving and volunteering in the US, to provide capacity building information, and meet with the local community members.

March 31 – April 1 New York (preliminary visit)
April 2-3 Pennsylvania
April 4-7 Washington D.C. (including Virgina and Maryland)
April 8-10 North Carolina
April 10-13 Georgia
April 13-18 New York (may include Rochester and Connecticut)

During this tour, I will
  • Meet with exiting supporters, local organization representatives, and students in the area.
  • Establish collaboration opportunities with local organizations
  • Raise enough donations for the expenses of the trip and recruit new volunteers
  • Give information about Friends of Anatolia, to seek support for the education projects, distribute promotional material
  • Provide capacity building training

If you have friends in these areas and you would like me to meet with them, or if you want your friends to attend my meetings in these areas, please let me and let them know about the plans. For further information about my trip itinerary, please contact me at or send a comment to this message :)


Demet Yezgi

A Profile in the Mideast Connect

Dear All,

The Cultural Connect publishes weekly e-magazines for the modern day young professional interested in: being inspired by other young extraordinary professionals within their cultural community, becoming more aware of non-profit organizations making huge strides towards progress, and connecting themselves with major headlines that affect their community.

They have four different regional magazines and this week, they interviewed me and published a profile about Friends of Anatolia in the Mideast Connect.

I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to share it with your friends.

Demet Yezgi

Starting a Blog

Hello All,

One of our wonderful Board members, Baris Karadogan, had suggested that I shall start a blog.. He even set the account for me in January 2006, but I never had a chance to actually post something.

To become part of a young and dynamic organization is very inspiring as well as very tiring. Things are happening at a dazzling speed. I would like to let you know that things are going great as a result of your continuous support. Before I write you about one important news, another comes…However, I am fully aware of the fact that we are not able to communicate our massive efforts and encouraging accomplishments on a regular basis. I think this is one of the side effects of fast growth.

Last month, our dear Board member, Tugsan Topcuoglu, went to Turkey to complete his military service. He was doing an amazing job by keeping our website up-to-date. Until we recruit another volunteer who will take care of this important responsibility, I will try to reach you from this blog and share important news and announcements.

In addition to the website updates, we will start publishing our newsletter, FRIENDLY NEWS, on a regular basis soon.

Thank you for supporting Friends of Anatolia!
Demet Yezgi