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Finding a Cause Abroad

By Kendal Lariviere; For the Clock
On April 17, 2017

Finding a Cause Abroad 

Kendal Lariviere

For The Clock 

One of the last things I expected to stumble upon while spending a semester abroad was a charitable cause that touched me. Plenty of people are moved by the experiences they have while traveling, but few know what it is like to find a path to philanthropy along the way. Don’t get me wrong, there are countless incredible memories I have from my travels during the four months I spent living in Italy. I just happen to hold this one a bit closer to my heart.

Last spring, while I was studying at Sant’Anna Institute, our class of American exchange students went on a daylong excursion to Naples. During this trip, we met an extraor- dinary woman named Karen Torre. A world-class athlete turned coach and philanthropist, Karen now dedicates her time to offering an alternative activity to at-risk youths in the Naples area. During our visit with her and her group of athletes, known as Ronin Club, we learned that it is far from easy to provide these kids with this kind of safe, alternative activity.

Naples is a beautiful city filled with all the flair of southern Italian culture. Your senses are stimulated as you wander through its winding alleys, stumbling upon grand cathedrals, grabbing an authentic “wallet pizza,” or watching lively street performers dance to the music of handcrafted instruments. Despite all this, the city gets a bad reputation for being dangerous, and most of these rumors can be attributed to the historical presence of the mafia in Naples. Though I can attest that Naples is no more dangerous than any other large city in the world, there is truth behind those mafia whispers. Mafia members infiltrate the streets in the lower-income sections of the city, and some of their most sought-after victims are children. Mafia organizations recruit children for minor tasks, such as pickpocketing tourists, to initiate control over the community. Without the financial means to fund other activities to fill their free time, many children take the opportunity to make some money and cure their boredom. By getting involved with the mafia at a young age, these kids are set up for a life of crime. This is where Ronin Club comes in. With the club, Karen aims to give kids a healthy activity and keep them off the streets, while providing them with the confidence to resist outside influences. Through the practice of martial arts, Ronin Club’s students learn strength, respect, and perseverance in a healthy setting.

Karen funds most of Ronin Club’s expenses out of pocket, including the rent for a practice space at a local church in the Spanish Quarter of Naples. She doesn’t take a single euro for herself, and selflessly donates her time after work to coach the young athletes. She does all of this for pure passion, always putting her club and students' needs above her own. The families do not pay a fee for their children to attend the club, as most of the families in the area cannot realistically afford the costs of martial arts. Despite the students being fantastic athletes with numerous achievements, they don't have the funds to compete on the world stage. Many of the athletes qualify for international competitions, and have the talent to medal at such events. However, there are many times when the athletes are unable to showcase their skills due to financial issues. They have difficulty obtaining sponsorship, due to little media attention and no official recognition from the community. 

After talking with Karen and getting the opportunity to see the Ronin Club athletes in action, I felt the overwhelming need to help support this inspiring organization. As a non-profit, without the means to organize large-scale fundraisers, Ronin Club and its athletes tend to struggle financially. To help ease this financial burden, my classmate and I decided to launch a crowdfunding page on behalf of Karen and Ronin Club. We are just over halfway to our goal of raising $1,000 for the club, and hope to reach the completion of our fundraiser soon. A few of Ronin Club’s athletes have qualified to compete at the European Championships in November, and a little financial support can help them get there! By using the power of the internet to appeal to the generosity of others, we are trying to make a small difference in the lives of these amazing athletes.

To donate or learn more about the fundraising efforts for Ronin Club please visit our crowdfunding page: fundraising/ronin-club/x/15077436

Or search for “Ronin Club” on 

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