Nonprofit Leaders Gather for Barkada Creative Jam in Templeton Hall

November 3, 2014 | Chicago, IL

Author Petula Varsha shared her vision for how her book, A Love Letter to Me, will impact young women.

Erie Neighborhood House served as a host site for What's Your Read, a storytelling event sponsored by Barkada Creative, on Thursday, October 30.

The event attracted nearly two dozen nonprofit leaders from across the city, allowing attendees to share their organizations' stories and receive constructive feedback from peers with the goal of strengthening both message and delivery.

“Three years ago, I had a conversation with several nonprofits about their needs and what they wish they could do better,” explains Pon Angara, principal and creative director for Barkada Creative. “Most of them admitted that they didn’t find enough opportunities to tell their story and that they’ve struggled with making it compelling.”

A single-source brand consultant for small to mid-size companies and nonprofit organizations, Barkada Creative derives its name from a Filipino word meaning “a group of individuals brought together by a strong bond of friendship."

Angara emphasizes the importance of establishing this dynamic in each of the Creative Jams he hosts. “The storytelling jam provides a safe and supportive environment where folks with a mission can take a risk—be vulnerable—while people in the audience can share their perspectives in a sincere way,” he says.

When this happens, Angara knows he has arrived at something special. “I believe the generosity and education taking shape in the room are the most gratifying aspects for me and for all the participants.”

Storytellers at Thursday’s event included a book author passionate about encouraging positive self-esteem in young women, the executive director of a nonprofit providing access to affordable housing in Uptown, an information systems professional interested in opening a shelter for transgender adults and two members of the Development & Communications department at Erie House.

Each story was followed by generous feedback from the audience, including questions and comments to help develop each story to further its potential impact.

For Angara, that signifies success.

“The storytellers receive useful advice from the audience who in turn learn about worthwhile causes they may want to support,” he says. “What could be potentially symbiotic with positive outcomes begins when people find common ground through storytelling.”

For more information on Barkada Creative, please visit or email



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