In June 2020, LG Electronics Australia recognised and rewarded Jasmine Issa of Sydney, New South Wales, for her selfless and generous contributions to her local community. After having the idea to create a comfort box for a friend experiencing a difficult time, Jasmine was inspired to continue bringing hope and kindness to those who needed it the most, and Project Generosity was born.
On her website, Jasmine describes herself as “an ordinary person with an extraordinary dream” – but Jasmine is far from what we would primarily think of as “ordinary”. With a background in social work and a passion for spreading kindness to others, Jasmine launched the non-for-profit, Project Generosity. The organisation aims to provide comfort, smiles and support to members of the Australian community who are facing any form of hardship. Together Jasmine and her community of volunteers come together to deliver ‘smile boxes’, which are filled with donations of gifts and vouchers from businesses and individuals that want to support those in need any way they can.
Since launching Project Generosity, Jasmine and her family have faced significant challenges of their own, however she has never wavered in her mission to spread cheer to those suffering. In fact, she remains a figure of constant support for families and individuals who are experiencing similar situations to her own.
We spoke to Jasmine to learn more about her story and selfless efforts – how she got started, her greatest challenges and the purpose and aim for Project Generosity:
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
JI: In June 2015, I was contacted by a customer through my small online gift service who ordered a custom hamper for her friend, Gina. Gina’s two year-old son, Yianni was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening medical condition and was given less than one year to live.
She wanted to make her friend Gina smile during such a difficult time, and asked for my help to do so. I was so honoured and moved by this request that I asked permission to share Yianni’s story on social media, with a call out for donations from businesses and individuals who wanted to help provide some support in the form of a comfort box.
The response was incredible – donations poured in from various businesses in the form of products and vouchers, and together we created something special for a family going through the unimaginable.
Sadly, as the box was being created, Yianni passed away on the 15th of July 2015. After giving Gina some time to grieve, I gave the box to her, to provide a small gesture of support during such a dark time. I was unsure of how it would be received, but she was completely blown away by the generosity of strangers in her community who had heard Yianni’s story and wanted to help in any way they could. It gave her a lot of hope and comfort, and knowing I was able to provide that to someone who was experiencing one of the hardest times of their life inspired me to keep going, hence Project Generosity was born.
This really was a life changing experience for me – Yianni means “God is generous”, and Yianni will always remain at the heart of what we do. He is our inspiration, and we know with him watching over us, he will help us make many more families and people smile.
LG: How did you come up with the concept?
JI: After creating that first box, I set up the non-for-profit organisation, Project Generosity. We started arranging ‘smile boxes’ for individuals and families going through a tough time. Through our website and social media channels, members of the community would nominate deserving individuals, and I would reach out to my network of volunteers for their support in coming together and pulling together donations of gifts and services to include in the boxes. The boxes provide smiles, support and comfort during turmoil - and restore people’s hope that kindness exists. Furthermore, the boxes also serve as a reminder that there is always a community behind you even if you are feeling alone.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
JI: When I initially started Project Generosity, I had the hope and dream of organising a big launch, getting corporate sponsors on board, and really spreading the message of what we were setting out to do with this organisation. I was pregnant at the time, so had planned that after I had my baby and became settled into life again, I would continue coordinating a big launch – but that didn’t quite go as anticipated.
As life would have it, things were a little serendipitous, as I ended up having a child with a disability myself. Ironically, my son Jonah faces a lot of similar health challenges to the young boy, Yianni, which Project Generosity is based upon.
Since I started the organisation, we have supported many families of children who suffer from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and now I am experiencing these challenges for myself with Jonah. It turns out that these families who I once provided support to were also an incredible support to me when I needed it, which really enforced the purpose behind why I do what I do. Having people around who have walked a similar path to you and are willing to help you in any way can, end up being the greatest support.
As life has become busy with therapy and appointments for Jonah, as well as caring for my other two children, I couldn’t launch in the way I had intended. However, I continue to help whoever I can, where I can, and the amazing community I have created through Project Generosity allows me to do that.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
JI: There have been a number of projects that we have worked on that have been truly amazing to have been a part of – one that stands out to me is organising the birthday party for a little girl, Charlotte, whose mum Jessica tragically passed away from cervical cancer just weeks before her daughter's third birthday. I heard of this story and knew we could help give Charlotte the birthday party her mum would have wanted to throw for her. The response from the community was overwhelming – so many people wanted to help, and provided gifts, donations and services to plan the most amazing birthday party for Charlotte, it is truly something that I will never forget.
Another thing I am proud of is how Project Generosity has provided support to families during the pandemic. There are so many people in need right now, and unfortunately it is common to see a lot of selfishness at times like these, especially with people going crazy over things like toilet paper! We had people in our community raising their hands to offer donating necessities, offering to buy groceries and cooking meals for families who had been hit hard by job loss and financial hardship, and doing whatever they could to help and remind people that kindness does exist.
LG: What is next for you and your initiative?
JI: My hope for Project Generosity is that we continue to grow, through sponsorship and fundraising efforts so that we can bring smiles to more people.
However, my biggest hope is that through this work I inspire my children, and others, to be kind, humble and make a difference in the world. We are the greatest role models for our children, so if they grow up with kindness and compassion in their heart then my job is done.
Receiving this recognition from LG was such a wonderful reminder that doing good for others attracts good returns to you. I hope that through this initiative I inspire others to pay it forward and show kindness and support those who need it most.
LG Electronics Australia would like to thank Jasmine for her kindness and compassion to her community. We wish Jasmine our best as she continues to spread cheer with Project Generosity.
If you know someone like Jasmine making positive contributions through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting www.lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend. We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!