Claudia Juestel Fuses Design With Charity

Claudia Juestel is the principal of Adeeni Design Group in san Francisco. She has worked to combine her love of art and design with her passion for community involvement. From mentoring high school students to creating whimsical tablescapes in the name of AIDS research, Juestel is committed to making a difference through design.

Q. Which charitable organizations you are involved with and in what capacity?

DIFFA (Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS):  I have been a member of the San Francisco chapter for eight years and I have designed four tables for the Dining by Design Event.  As a committee member I have raised money, sold tickets, got auction donations and venues for kick-off and thank-you parties.  I also spearheaded the creation of a their pro-bono website.

MetWest High School is a public high school in Oakland designed to foster student success through experimental learning and an extensive internship program.  For the past few years I have mentored minority students two days a week at my office, teaching them about design, business and life, to help them be better prepared for adulthood and the working world.

Care Through Action is a grassroots organization funding global change through local actions, by raising awareness and financial support for women and children who are victims of human rights abuses.  As a board member, amongst other duties, I am responsible for event planning and implementation.

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.  I recently joined the Northern Calfornia chapter in preparation for the “A Taste of Success” 2010 event, and I also look forward to teaching a class.

Q. Why are you passionate about these organizations?

I got involved with DIFFA, as I have many friends and colleagues afflicted with or affected by AIDS, and it allowed me to help by using both my creativity and professional skills.  

MetWest High School found me, and I was eager and excited to mentor young students, believing that American education below college level is in need of serious improvements, and that minority students attending urban public high schools are at a crucial disadvantage.

I was impressed by the dedication of the women who founded Care Through  Action, and I wanted to lend my skills to an organization that showed me that an individual can have a positive impact on people’s lives who often seem beyond our reach.  The organization has raised money to help, feed and heal women and children in war-torn countries such as the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Junior Achievement seemed a natural fit for me, given my interest in improving education and preparing young student for the workplace.

Q. As designer, which special skills do you bring to the different groups you are involved with?

Being a creative individual and excellent project manager I bring many skills to each organization.  I draw on my talents as an artist and entrepreneur to recruit volunteers, to solicit donations, to provide fundraising ideas, to plan, design and organize events, to manage budgets and schedules, and to teach and inspire.

Q. What has been the most memorable or most rewarding part of your experience?

Results!  When I know that my efforts had actual impact I realize it was worth the hard work, the extra hours, and at times the battles to convince the disagreeable ones.  Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that a rape victim has been healed, an AIDS patient is getting proper care, a child has been feed, or a student has had his/her mind opened and is receiving proper education.

Q. What can other members of the design community do to help out?

Until I got involved in charity work I often felt small and helpless amongst the immeasurable amount of problems we hear of every day. Making a difference in just one individual’s life is truly worth every effort. Anyone can get involved in some way.  DIFFA has great support from the design community, but we could always use more.  I would gladly talk to anyone interested in getting involved in the organizations I support, or to simply have a conversation of how to fit charity work into the life of a hardworking designer. Talking to colleagues about what they support and how they make it work can be really eye opening before making a commitment.  Overall, I would suggest to look at charities that fit your skills, interests and schedule.  There are so many worthy organizations to choose from, and there seems to be always more need than there is support.

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