Author: Bernadette Kreh
Who would have thought that two women seeking to make a difference on one Valentine’s Day would form a growing nonprofit serving over 1,000 youth and people experiencing homelessness in the DC area? Kim Chi Ha and Ivana Lee of Me & You started by making sandwiches coupled with toiletry packages as a one time “Galentine’s Day” project but have since created an extraordinary charitable institution. Me & You fundraises to provide necessities such as technology, hygiene supplies, groceries and more for schools like ours and neighbors in need.
After the success of their initial project, many people continued to reach out to Kim and Ivana looking for more ways to help. The duo proceeded to host more drives and as the support continued to grow, so did their passion for supporting low income families. This was particularly dear to them due to their upbringing. Like many of our students, Kim & Ivana’s parents were immigrants and refugees, leaving war-torn countries seeking a better life. The two grew up in government assisted housing and stood in lines at food shelters.
“I often think about how my parents left Vietnam on these tiny boats, and came to America in their early twenties, not knowing the language or the culture and were able to make a life for them. A very successful life, through incredibly hard work and [the] help of others. We want to be that for these students. We want to help them and their families in the way that others helped ours.”
It is obvious that from the start, Kim and Ivana had an incredible ability to connect with people and to get them on board with things that matter in our community. The two already had large networks which they built organically over time that helped with the growth of their organization. From a team of two, Me & You now has a fully running board of directors, ambassadors and volunteers. Even more impressive is that all of the team members have full time jobs among other life responsibilities. This just goes to show the drive and passion which is shared among their team of do-gooders who actively do the work necessary to see change around The District.
Me & You continues to grow and would love to partner with more people and organizations to create a larger impact. Prior to the pandemic, the organization would host creative pop-ups but have since switched over to virtual campaigns. Kim and Ivana are excited to have these pop-up events again. Nothing has stopped Me & You from fulfilling its mission and the aid agency recognizes that
now more than ever, there are students and families in dire need.
Oftentimes, people will ask what influenced the naming of Me & You. Kim finds it amusing as there’s not really a big story behind it. She shares, “It was me and Ivana sitting in my living room tossing around words. What was simple and direct? Me & You made sense because it’s people like me and you making a difference together. And yeah – we know it’s not grammatically correct.” A simple concept with a big
impact for which we are thankful.