DENVER — Samariddin Meliboev, Jamal Gironazi and Kai Suematsu want to make sure no one ever goes hungry.
That’s a pretty lofty goal for three young men who have been friends and working together since their years at George Washington High School, where they met through the Denver Scholarship Foundation.
Their goals became grander when they enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder. While working on degrees in information management, computer science and business, the trio started the Kobu Foundation because of the need they saw during the pandemic.
“I’ve gotten a lot of help from the community when I first came to the U.S., so this is more of a giving back to my community” says Samariddin.
Samariddin, Kai and Jamal give back each and every Friday. They and a group of volunteers get together to fill food boxes and bags and deliver to families in need in Boulder County. By their senior year, they had already delivered more than 100,000 meals. Since then, Kobu has grown and expanded, even partnering with DoorDash.
Their good work hasn’t gone unnoticed. While on a visit to the Denver Scholarship Foundation offices, they were surprised with the S.J. Dilenschneider Community Award.
“S.J. Dilenschneider is my grandfather, and we give this award once a year to those individuals out there who are making a difference in the community”, said David Dilenschneider who also handed over a check to the Kobu Foundation for $10,000 dollars on behalf of the Scripps Howard Foundation, Denver7’s parent company.
The award and check had all three men grinning and one could see the wheels turning as they thought about how to put the money to use.
“There’s a lot in my mind of what we can do with this. This is insane” said Kai, who was already thinking about budget items like gasoline.
“No one told me,” said Jamal. “I just expected to come in and say, ‘What’s up, what am I doing,’ and then go back to Boulder and go back to coding. I’m so very, very, very happy.”
So was the Dilenschneider family.
“We live in such a me generation,” said David Dilenschneider, “where there’s so much focus on the individual and what ‘I’ want. And what they’ve been able to do is focus on the community as a whole and that is so wonderful to not only see that, but to hear it, right? There’s a phrase — actions speak louder than words — and these guys are putting it into action. That’s what’s so impressive.”
Lorii Rabinowitz is the Chief Executive Officer of the Denver Scholarship Foundation and has known these three since their early years of high school.
“Kai, Samariddin and Jamal are three of the most humble human beings. They saw a need in our community and they acted upon that need. They are extraordinary examples of numerous Denver Scholarship Foundation scholars and alumni doing such good in the world.”
Samariddin and Kai have now graduated from CU Boulder. Samariddin now working in data analytics at Kaiser Permanente, and Kai doing consulting work at Accenture. Jamal is close to graduating with two degrees, in computer science and mathematics.
They’ve started planning for the future of the Kobu Foundation.
“It’s going to the next generation” says Jamal. “So, I think it’s in good hands. Yes, very good hands, extremely good hands.”