Lia Saeteurn Volunteers 500 Hours/Year - Women's Foundation California

lia-saeteurnWithout fail, Lia Saeteurn volunteers 500 hours of her time every year. And that’s no small feat considering that she works full time as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in Beverly Hills and is a member of our Los Angeles Giving Circle, a donor circle that last year awarded four grants to organizations that uplift women and girls.

Lia volunteers as a college preparation and financial literacy mentor to middle and high school girls: “I believe that anyone who has access to the right education and the right role models can get out of the world in which they think they’re trapped.”

Lia says that she has been lucky and has been given a lot. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. When she was four months old, her family immigrated to the United States. She excelled in school and extracurricula­r activities and then attended UC Berkeley. Now, she finds herself in a rewarding career.

How did she do it? Not by pulling herself up by her bootstraps, she says, but by getting help, support and inspiration from many mentors, coaches and teachers along her way. And now she wants to give back.

Lia is moved to act and give—both her time and her money—by a story she read as a high school student. In the story, a young girl reads Langston Hughes’s “Dream Deferred” and weeps. She weeps because she feels that her dreams will inevitably “dry up like a raisin in the sun.” The young girl simply does not see a way out of her dire situation.

So every time Lia thinks the problems some girls face are too big to surmount, she remembers that girl and volunteers one more hour of her time. And every time she feels that our system of education is too broken to fix, she remembers that girl and funds inspirational organizations like the New Village Charter School:

“The goal is to point the girls in the right direction, motivate them to live up to their potential and encourage them to continue to dream.”

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