Photos taken by Arlene Wang

Arlene’s Story:

Arlene moved to Austin in 2014 and she jumped right in as a volunteer at Breakthrough Central Texas as a way to get to know the community better. A friend who lived in a different city had recently sent out an email on her birthday asking Arlene to forgo buying her a birthday gift and give to a nonprofit she had a relationship with instead. When Breakthrough sent around an email asking for Amplify Austin Day Fundraisers, it was a no-brainer. Arlene loved how easy it was to support a friend from close or afar, so she hosted her first Amplify Austin Day Birthday Campaign in 2015 to talk about Breakthrough’s role in her life. Arlene has been serving as an Academic Coach and College Application Coach at Breakthrough for four years.

Now every year, in lieu of birthday gifts, she shares her story as a Breakthrough volunteer and asks friends and family to support her by helping her achieve something bigger than herself.

Arlene’s Favorite Anecdote:

I have been serving as an Academic Coach and College Application Coach at Breakthrough for four years. I have had a great experience with one particular student over the four years. She has exhibited incredible maturity, strength, and resilience from a young age. She has shared stories of teaching herself English in the first grade, to now assisting her mother in translating tax forms and government documents. She redefined her circumstances, set aspirations for the future, and acquired the skills and knowledge to achieve her goals. Not only has she proved her unique resolve, but she has also demonstrated a deep sense of commitment, also giving back to the next generation, and those in the same position she found herself all those years ago. Last summer, she was a Teaching Fellow for the Breakthrough middle school students. She continues to serve as an inspiration and role model to all those around her, going so far as to apply all that she has accomplished unto her own students. All the students at Breakthrough have proven on many occasions to be bright and capable, with the determination and heart applicable to whatever they set their sights on.

Arlene’s Why:

I think at this point in our life we have all the material things we need and while gifts are fun, they are no longer something that I need on my birthday. It is so much better to give to a cause that is making a difference in people’s lives.

Arlene’s Amplify Strategy:

Arlene sent out one bcc’d mass email where she: Expressed thanks for compassionate and generous family and friends and the role they played in her life.

  • Told her story with Breakthrough and why it mattered to her.
  • Provided Needs Statements: how far does $25 go for the cause?

Arlene’s Why: 

You have to bite the bullet. Some people feel conflicted. It’s asking people to do something for you on your birthday and it feels strange to talk about yourself. But it makes something that may not be personable to someone else, personable. You are leveraging the personal connection and relationship to do something great. 


From I Live Here, I Give Here’s Amplify Member Spotlight