Libby Kaluna

My goal is to inspire 365 people to do something kind

Libby is a 19 year old Management student at the University of Nottingham. She is a keen fundraiser and volunteer and manages several charity appeals to help disadvantaged or ill people within her community. Notably, Libby is the president of the Nottingham and Derby branch of Free Cakes For Kids and works to ensure that no child goes without a birthday cake! In 2015 she was a winner of two Inspiring Woman of the Year Awards and this interview shows what makes her an outstanding person.

 

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You were a winner of two Inspiring Woman of the Year Awards in December 2015 – how was your experience of it?
I echo the words of all of the amazing women I met on the night when I say it was an absolute honour to be nominated, never mind to come away with two awards! It was such a shock and a magical experience to be surrounded by so many people who have done such amazing things for the world. Even now I am in disbelief, however winning the award has inspired me to never give up and dream big; to continue to launch and grow new projects and reach out to as many people as possible.

How did you start to be involved in charitable activities and what motivated you to take this path?
There has never been a Eureka or pivotal moment in my life which has inspired me to do charitable work. When I was 16 I seized the opportunity and my first major charitable endeavour was skydiving, in aid of the Make a Wish Foundation, and since then I have never looked back. I have always been taught to be kind and consider those less fortunate than myself, I have big aspirations and want to inspire change in the world.

How do you manage time: be a great student and work at the same time?
Kindness is not an act, it is a lifestyle. If you truly care, you will find a way, not an excuse. These two quotes sum up the way I manage my time – it can be a struggle with coursework deadlines looming and a fundraising event on the horizon but with careful planning it is possible. The charity work I do would not be possible without volunteers and supporters who give up their time and energy to help to raise awareness or help those in need, and I am indefinitely grateful to be surrounded by so many generous and kind people. My role as the Education Representative for the Business School helps to keep me focused on my studies as I am involved in making changes to the learning and teaching environment. The Business School staff’s enthusiasm and the amazing pastoral care has been an invaluable asset in learning to organise my time effectively.

Who has supported you to follow your path?
I cannot begin to name all of the people who have supported me, every time someone pledges to sponsor me or signs up to an appeal it gives me a spark of energy and a determination to carry on. My family have always been there for me, be it watching me stand on a plane or just offering a hug and I couldn’t do it without them!

What are some of the challenges that you have faced so far?

Every day comes with its challenges and hurdles. I have organised charity events and invested weeks of time into a fundraising night only for a handful of guests to show. I have had to be accountable for cakes failing to be delivered and act quickly to avoid disappointing children. Working with disadvantaged families and seeing first-hand the vulnerability and fragmentation of families battling adversity can be tough. It is saddening to hear of cases of domestic violence and meet people living in such extreme poverty they are reliant on food banks. However, the stories give me an appreciation for what I have and motivation to go out and make a change, and encourage others to do the same.

You are very young and have achieved a lot already in life, is this luck or a result of your determination?
Whilst I don’t believe in supernatural luck, I believe it is a matter of perception and self-belief. I am lucky because I believe I am lucky – I seize all of the opportunities which are available to me and persevere even when things don’t go as intended. Being young does mean that I have a lack of experience however I have a great network who have been a source of advice and encouragement. I have always been hard-working and ambitious, putting 100% effort into any project or role at the expense of free time to maximise success! Everyone has the potential to do amazing things but many people do not actively seek out ways in which they can help and therefore I intend to give as many people as possible the opportunity to do something great! I am extremely privileged to have the education and experiences I have had and I want to give back, on both a local and a humanitarian level.

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What are your goals for 2016?

  1. Inspire 365 people to do something kind. Whether that means them being involved in an appeal, donating to charity, organising their own charity event or simply helping a friend to pick up their bags. Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes and a little bit can go a long way.
  2. Make the most of the experience from volunteering abroad for two months in the summer, positively influence someone’s life and come away having learnt something valuable.
  1. Go to bed every day knowing I have made someone’s life is just a tiny bit better (albeit indirectly!) than when I woke up!

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