Photos from NYC Fundraiser for Malezi

Some photos above from the first in person Living Smile fundraising event, which benefited the Malezi Centre in Nairobi.

A friend of mine, Jason, from my clubbing days a lifetime ago, emailed me out of the blue earlier in the year. It had been at least 10 years since I saw or heard from him. Somehow, he heard about what I was doing overseas (a far cry from the person he got to know in the lounge at Club Vinyl on Hubert St., let me tell you), got inspired, and decided he wanted to help support my efforts.

We discussed the possibility of doing a fundraising event in New York City for the Malezi Centre on and off for awhile. He's a private chef and said he would be willing to cater and that he had a client with a fabulous apartment in TriBeCa, who would be willing to let us use it for an event.

The planets finally aligned to do the fundraiser this month, as I am in the US traveling for the next few weeks and both Jason and the apartment were available. We set the date for August 8 and sent out invitations.

Pulling a crowd is notoriously challenging in New York City, nevertheless we had over 30 guests in attendance from our mutual social circles. A very decent turnout.

They were treated to Jason's tasty creations, good company, and I served a streamlined version of the Effort Less presentation that had an emphasis on my work in the Kitui Ndogo slum and, of course, our plan to build a community center and school in it.

We ended up raising several thousand dollars and because of a matching grant that doubled each dollar donated during this event, we received a significant gust of wind toward reaching the $26,000 goal.

A sense of care permeated throughout the evening. There was Jason's generosity. The decorative touches we made to the apartment. The collection bowl we setup as an altar. And I did my best to invoke the concepts that drive my work, such as humility, gratitude, egolessness, and effortlessness.

My intention was to not only raise money for the center but to plant those seeds of connecting to a purpose larger than our own survival and happiness.

Thank you Jason so much for your generosity and belief in me. And thank you to all our wonderful guests who made the evening such a wonderful success.