Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Emily C. Specchio Foundation Announces Ambassador Program

The following is the transcript of my speech at the 3rd Annual Emily C. Specchio “Night with an Angel”.

Good Evening Everyone,

My name is Marco Ambrosio, I am one of Emily’s cousins. In fact we were one year apart and spent family affairs usually laughing together. I have been asked tonight to briefly explain the Ambassador program. For those that are unfamiliar with my family – brief and explain are at opposite ends of the Ambrosio spectrum – but I promise to break the mold. Now, the Ambassador program comes directly out of my work, my partnership with the foundation and Emily’s passion for life and helping others.

Last year I spoke at this event a few days after returning from Rwanda. I spoke of my Hope & Global HIV Project that also took me to Nicaragua, India, Thailand, and San Francisco. In the past year, I have furthered my work in global social justice having completed a manuscript based on the project. I am currently looking for a publisher and a literary agent – and any leads would certainly be welcomed! I should add that I designed and created a website that supports my various activities and speaking engagements. Everything I say tonight can be accessed on my website –

Since speaking last year, I helped the foundation create the Ambassador program. The reason for this program is simple – there is no better way to remember Emily than by helping young people to challenge themselves and see what kind of impact they can make. When I first approached John and Eileen, I was a soon-to-be college grad with an idea, a passion and contacts. I needed to cement my credibility and find a way to solicit donations. In short, the foundation enabled me to be the change I wanted to see in the world. Now, the foundation is looking to enable others.

New Jersey residents aged 18-25 are eligible to apply. The applicants must demonstrate a clear vision for a community outreach project to be started & completed within a year. Those chosen will receive 2 to 1 matching funds up to $5000 from the foundation for money they raise and – as importantly – mentoring from foundation members. The project can be designed for a domestic or international cause. We decided on matching funds instead of grants because we want to attract inspired and self-motivated applicants. The Ambassador will be chosen through an application process (which is available online at the foundation and my website and we encourage you in the audience to spread the word before the September 1st deadline.

The Ambassador must maintain an active blog or website to promote the work and allow the foundation and all of you to follow along as well. Kate and I will provide mentoring and training to accomplish this goal. This requirement is based on my own experience with my blog, which has had entries read at churches and schools and is followed by people in multiple countries. One entry was even posted online by the Rwandan Ministry of Health.

The foundation will arrange a minimum of five speaking engagements for the Ambassador to promote both the project and a powerful tool for social justice. At each of the speaking engagements, the foundation will make a micro-loan administered through Almost two years ago I started my project focused on healthcare and human rights, but my research and travels have taught me how complex issues like HIV/AIDS and development are tied to healthcare, education and jobs. Microfinance is the best way to foster self-employment and empower entrepreneurs in developing countries. These loans change lives – I have seen it in Nicaragua, in rural Rwanda, and Central Thailand. The grandfather of microfinance organizations was started by Mohammed Yunus – a Bangladeshi economist who won the Noble Peace Prize in 2006 for starting Grameen Bank. This past January, the bank - which uses micro-loans to help eradicate poverty - has started its first branch in a developed country. Where? Across the river in Queens, NY. I urge everyone here to investigate how making a loan to resource poor people can change the world – again the links are on my website.

I personally look forward to expanding the Ambassador program with each year that passes. After many presentations of my work at universities, high schools and churches I have been approached by students looking for the type of opportunity that I was able to establish. All too often students lack the mentoring, funding or belief that they can make an impact – this program is a first step.

Before I leave, I would like to announce two things. The first is that I have produced an educational DVD that highlights inspiring stories of individuals and organizations from each of the countries I have researched for my work. Secondly, I am currently running social media solutions events in Lyndhurst. The topics range from staying in touch with family and friends, small business solutions and one in particular on my global HIV/AIDS work (which is May 13). The events are hands on, experiential and a chance to get all your questions answered about twitter, facebook, and social media.

Both the DVD and registering for the social media events are available through my website. Colorful information sheets on the social media events and the actual Ambassador application are located on the table where you checked in this evening.

Thank you for being apart of this night and be prepared for the Ambassdor’s presentation next year – I for one hope it will not be brief. Thank you.