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Arvada Fantastic Sams raises funds, awareness for World Malaria Day

The fundraiser is a partnership with Arvada-based nonprofit Global Refuge


When Rebecca and Mike Pavlich adopted their sons, David and Joe, from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015, they saw first-hand how sick malaria makes people.

The Arvada couple lived for three months in the Congo while the adoption was finalized and in that time saw David, 5 years old at the time, almost die from the disease.

“It's the most miserable thing I've ever watched anyone go through,” Rebecca Pavlich said. “It's less than $5 to get the medicine, but it's not an option for so many people. And not because they couldn't get the money, but getting to the pharmacy was difficult.”

When the Pavliches returned from the Congo, they wanted to find a way to help the many families they saw suffering. That's when they partnered with Global Refuge International, a nonprofit based in Arvada that works in war-torn countries.

Global Refuge serves refugees and displaced people with current projects in Northern Uganda and the Congo. Outreaches focuses on two things: to help people survive and thrive.

Malaria is the number one disease Global Refuge is helping people survive.

“If we didn't treat malaria, then our impact number would be so small,” said Christy Josten, community outreach coordinator for Global Refuge. “It's not just going in trying to set up shop and then leave. We're trying to equip people who are displaced with the knowledge to serve their own people.”

One way Global Refuge does this is by training medics, supplying medical supplies and partnering with artisans to sell products at the nonprofits Arvada shops, Global Goods and Coffee and Global Thrift.

Through the partnership with Global Refuge, Pavlich is using the platform of her business, Fantastic Sams on Ward Road in Arvada, to raise funds for malaria treatments and mosquito nets to be distributed in the Congo.

A malaria test kit and treatment costs $1.25 together. A mosquito net costs $6. They are asking people for a donation of $7.25 to equip people with both prevention and treatment.

Last year, the salon raised $600 in donations from the community and Pavlish matched that for a total of $1,200 raised for malaria treatment and prevention.

Stylist Kelli Apodaca raised the most money at the salon last year.

“I just really enjoyed partnering with Global Refuge and the personal investment that our owners have,” said Apodaca, who has been a stylist at the Ward Road Fantastic Sams for 15 years. “It's something personal and close to me also. A lot of my clientele is retired and so I think it makes them feel good contributing to the cause.”

Pavlich is holding another fundraiser in conjunction with Global Goods and Coffee and Global Thrift. The goal this year is to raise $8,000 between all three locations by World Malaria Day on April 25.

“I like that Global Refuge is right next door and yet it has a global reach, impacting the world” Pavlich said. “And the thrift shop less than five minute from the salon. It's a local business supporting a local charity that is having an international reach — not just changing peoples lives, it is saving lives.”

Right now it is the dry season in Africa. But as the rainy season approaches, the goal is to be as prepared as possible.

“Rebecca just gets it so clearly because of her son going through that experience,” Josten said. “People don't need to die from malaria. It doesn't have to be this grand thing. Get a haircut, save a life. Buy coffee, save a life. Adding that donation can really make a significant difference in the life of somebody.”


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