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Who We Are

SKJAJA People

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piano
singing
soccer 

Karen Kalafatas
Director

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playing school Cabbage Patch
dolls
playing with
brothers

Tabitha Gaskin
Programs Assistant

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piano
clarinet
playing with collie
help treat animals
with my vet dad

Ann Daaleman
PLAY it Forward

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school plays
biking
chorus
Barbies
swim
climb trees

Diana Hersh
PLAY it Forward

SKJAJA Board 2022-23

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piano
singing
soccer 

Mitchell Collins

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playing school Cabbage Patch
dolls
playing with
brothers

Ann Daaleman

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piano
clarinet
playing with collie
help treat animals
with my vet dad

Charles Debose

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school plays
biking
chorus
Barbies
swim
climb trees

John Hastings

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piano
singing
soccer 

Mariela Hernandez

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playing school Cabbage Patch
dolls
playing with
brothers

Tashiana McBride

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football
baseball
biking
picking plums
with my aunt

Chris Wallace

SKJAJA Founder’s Council

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ballet & jazz
piano
cheerleading
rec softball
drawing

Charlotte K. White

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basketball
camping
trumpet
frisbee golf

Eric White

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piano lessons
Girl Scouts
summer camp

Joan White

More SKJAJA People

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James Grant
Applications Committee

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piano
singing
reading
biking

Amy Holley
Applications Committee

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basketball
reading
camping
cheering for the
Tar Heels!

Amit Pakirh
Applications Committee

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playing with
brothers
summer camp
baton twirling

Gloria Sanchez
Applications Committee

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Girl Scouts

swimming 

arts and crafts
summer camp

Kathy Tyrrell
Applications Committee

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dance
cheerleading
piano

Gracie Kirchgessner

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Garrison Reid

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basketball
reading
camping
cheering for the
Tar Heels!

Kim White Glasser
Inspiration

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dance
cheerleading
summer camp

Sondra Komada
2009-2022

Founding Story – and how we got our funny name

SKJAJA began with $200 and the founders’ vision that all kids in Chapel Hill-Carrboro would have access to extracurricular activities – an important aspect to a child’s growth and long-term success. 

How did they do it?

For the first 13 years, SKJAJA was financially supported by the local community and the work of the Board of Directors and a group of volunteers. And, there was a lot of joy, fun, and laughter – with a name like SKJAJA fun was always at the forefront.

Charlotte Kirchgessner and Eric White met at Phillips Junior High School in Chapel Hill, NC and graduated from the only high school in town – Chapel Hill High School. After returning to Chapel Hill in 2006 with their two elementary-aged kids, the Whites began a journey they could not have imagined.

1980s

On Kim’s Birthday (Kim is Eric’s sister) Kim gave each of her family members $100 in lieu of them giving her gifts. The catch? She asked them all to "pay it forward" and use the money to do something kind for someone else. Later, the family came together to share how they had each allocated their $100. The Whites’ children (Aja & Kai) joyfully shared how they had used their “gift.” Aja donated art supplies to her school and Kai provided a scholarship so another kid could play soccer, like him.

2006

Eric's mom, Joan, joined Eric and Charlotte and created the SKJAJA Fund, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The mission? Remove financial barriers and provide scholarships so that all kids in Chapel Hill-Carrboro could enjoy extracurricular activities. To incorporate the concept of “paying it forward” service opportunities were included into the mission so that all young people could enjoy the benefits of service in community.

2008

How would they carry out this mission? Eric and Charlotte did what they did best and threw a party, The first annual Beach Shack Boil raised money for SKJAJA scholarships. The $200 Kim had gifted (again) in 2007 turned into $5,000 because of the generosity of its attendees. 

Why the funny name?

Birthday Kim has always used “SKJAJA” to refer to the people in her family and Eric wanted to honor his sister for her inspiration: Scott  • Kim  •  Josh  •  Ashley  •  Jessica  •  Adam

by the way, it's SKAH -JAH -JAH. Don’t worry. It took us a while, too.

The first two scholarship awardees were able to join their school’s Girls on the Run program and gave back to their community by cleaning up Glenwood Elementary’s campus and planting flowers at the entrance. And the SKJAJA fun began!

2009

The first decade SKJAJA was run by a group of dedicated volunteers and funded by the generosity of individuals and the local business community. The long-lasting PLAY it Forward program was envisioned and managed by a volunteer, Diana Hersh, who believed that people had instruments sitting in their closets that wanted to be played – and she was right. Funding was raised through local grants and events like the Beach Shack Boil, Color the Hill, Rock the Hill, Shack, Rattle & Roll, and car washes run by the high school SKJAJA Clubs. Charlotte split her time between managing SKJAJA and her design firm, White Space Creative. But, she could not have done it without the time, partnership, and generosity of board member, Sondra Komada. 

2009-2019

Besides the time and financial support Sondra and her family gave, she was the brains behind so many aspects of SKJAJA including the five-year community event, Color the Hill, and the high school SKJAJA Clubs. Sondra had been a high school counselor and she was instrumental in forming relationships and partnerships with the local schools. Sondra was also gifted at raising money, community awareness, and volunteer recruitment. She was passionate about SKJAJA and everyone she encountered became passionate and engaged, too. 

2009-19

With Karen at the helm, SKJAJA is sure to continue not only its original mission of supporting local kids – but also having fun – because if you’re not having fun then what’s the point?

2022

In 2018, Charlotte left her part-time director’s position and SKJAJA was in good hands with Sondra and Susan Roth managing the day-to-day operations. Susan had been a dedicated volunteer for many years and had joined the staff as part-time Director of Operations in 2018. In 2020 Charlotte returned to the Board and the pandemic gave the board time to pause and plan what was next for SKJAJA. 

2018-20

SKJAJA had proven its value and it was time for a dedicated staff to grow and sustain it for the next decade. Thanks to the dedication and vision of the 2020-21 Board of Directors (Charlotte White, John Hastings, Michelle Watson-Grant, Joan White, Chris Wallace, and Sondra Komada), SKJAJA was able to create a strategy and raise funding to hire its first full-time director, Karen Kalafatas. 

2020-21

The end – and just the beginning!

Wanna join the fun? Support SKJAJA today!