The One Desk Story
After graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles in the summer of 1999, twenty one year old Milli Arakawa wanted to take a much-deserved vacation to celebrate her accomplishment. After careful consideration of the vacation opportunities available, Milli made a surprising choice. Her decision would take her to a small town outside of St. Petersburg Russia, to serve as a volunteer in an orphanage. The trip turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of her life and ignited a passion for community service and volunteerism.
Over the next few years, Milli would continue her travels performing volunteer service around the globe. She built houses in a rural village in Fiji, constructed infrastructure in a small community in the mountains of Costa Rica, performed pro bono business consulting for local businesses in San Salvador, and taught English to elementary school children in Indonesia.
Each new trip brought new perspectives. She witnessed the needs of the communities in the developing world, such as inadequate housing, poor water supply and dilapidated or non-existent educational facilities and realized that these needs are usually taken for granted in the United States. Her travels would also introduce her to new people and cultures that allowed her awareness and global perspectives to grow.
She was touched by the many amazing people she met and fascinated by their overwhelming happiness and gratefulness despite the lack of resources in their prevailing communities. Each experience reminded her of what was important in life, and inspired her to want to do things bigger than herself. She always returned home, yearning to do more, looking for a way to positively impact other people’s lives.
On February 8, 2010, the One Desk Foundation was formed, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Based on her experiences, Milli identified the one area that moved her to act, the children that represented the future of the world and that represented the catalyst for a better future in their communities.