By Abbie Neufeld
Last month Bosilka An ’12 was one of three finalists nominated for the Los Angeles Outstanding Youth Volunteer award given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as part of National Philanthropy Day. Though An did not end up winning the award, she said it was still an honor just to be nominated. An, who calls herself “a teen philanthropista” on her blog, has worked with many different charities, most notably The BASH, an organization which she co-founded.
An was inspired to start The BASH when she visited Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in December 2008 with a friend and actress Nathalia Ramos to pass out gifts to patients.
“We walked in, and there was just a cardboard box lined with a black garbage bag of old MP3 players and Bath and Body Works soap,” she said. “We just kind of looked at each other and said we should do something about it. “
In 2009 they held The BASH, a fundraiser that specifically benefits teen patients at the hospital. An decided to focus the event on teens because she said she noticed many programs in place focused on younger children, while teens were in need of more age-appropriate ways to improve their stay at the hospital. The event raised over $150,000 and has since developed into a larger organization that now also holds other fundraising efforts and organizes events for teen patients at the hospital. The BASH has also become a global organization with chapters around the world, including ones in San Francisco and London.
When An first started The BASH she didn’t expect it to become as large as it did.
“Everyone who knows me knows that I’m really driven and stubborn, and if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll probably do it without realizing what I’m doing,” she said. “Eventually it just got to the point where I was so consumed with it and ended up falling in love with it, so I wanted to expand it and take the message further and the success further.”
Since starting The BASH, An has become involved with a variety of other organizations. She now serves as a youth ambassador for In a Perfect World, an organization which aims to empower children to become socially conscious and responsible leaders. As part of her work as a youth ambassador, An visits schools where she talks about ways kids can change the world,
An was also selected as 2011 Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation’s Three Dot Dash Initiative and attended the organization’s “Just Peace Summit” last March with other Global Teen Leaders.
Though An did not win the Los Angeles Outstanding Youth Volunteer award, she has been recognized by other organizations for her work. Last April, she won a Community Leader PLUS award given by Forgiving for Living, Inc.
An is continuing and expanding her work, she says, by helping spread the message to others and empowering them to change the world. She has started a website and blog, BosilikaAn.com, which has about 6,600 readers a month and is currently in the early stages of writing a book.
An said a favorite part of her work has been seeing the growing interest of teens in philanthropy.
“I knew I wanted to grow [The BASH] but I didn’t really know how or when,” she said. “The reason it grew is because kids asked me ‘can I start my own chapter.’ Knowing our message somehow got all the way to Malaysia or London means the world to me.”