food for the poor virtual gala

By Sam Bojarski

Nonprofit Hope for Haiti, which works to alleviate poverty, and kremas company LS Cream Liqueur, are partnering to host a “Cheers to Haiti” event Oct. 14. The virtual celebration will feature musical performances and a kremas testing. It aims to raise $15,000 for water filtration systems and public health education.

Skyler Badenoch, chief executive officer of Hope for Haiti said events like “Cheers to Haiti” and the “Hike for Haiti Challenge,” which his group organized in April and May, could help the organization reach its financial goals for the year.

“We’re going to take action, and we’re going to try our hardest to make up for that $600,000 that we make from special events every year,” said Badenoch, who mentioned that Hope for Haiti started preparing for a pivot to virtual events in March.

LS Cream Liqueur and Hope for Haiti are partnering for an Oct. 14 fundraiser that includes liquor tasting. Contributed photo.

“What we decided to do was virtual site visits,” he said, noting another way Hope for Haiti has showcased its work.

As summer gives way to fall and the season of giving approaches, more and more organizations that support Haiti are going digital. When it comes to special events specifically, nonprofit leaders are hosting virtual fundraisers to engage donors and promote causes.

Virtual events galore

Visual artist Steven Baboun is one several performers headlining the upcoming virtual fundraiser, which will feature Haitian kremas tasting and entertainment. The campaign will benefit 250 families in southern Haiti. Tickets start at $60.

Similarly on Oct. 24, FLM Haiti, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that funds human services, literacy and public health programs in Haiti, will host its “Virtual Celebration of Thanks and Hope.” It will feature testimonies from people the nonprofit serves, as well as Haitian art and music. For a $60 donation, anyone can attend the Zoom event.

“We are thankful we have some long-standing contributors who stick with us,” said Bishop Leon Pamphile, FLM Haiti co-founder and executive director. “They have proven to be faithful.”

FLM Haiti intends to keep its Oct. 24 event relatively brief, due to reliability issues with Zoom, said Pamphile. It hopes to raise $25,000.

In May, donors participated in FLM Haiti’s annual “Hope for Haiti” 5K Walk largely by themselves, from their living rooms or neighborhoods. But more than 50 people paid the $25 registration fee and participated and more than 100 others donated.

Given the big push toward digital since the pandemic, Pamphile said FLM Haiti is also focused on increasing email communication with donors and building a subscriber list.

Among the virtual events that occurred in September was the Lamp for Haiti virtual gala Sept. 24.

Florida-based Food for the Poor, which supports hunger relief efforts in 17 countries, held its own virtual gala Sept. 26. The intention was to raise enough funds to provide 1.7 million meals for Haitians.

Florida-based nonprofit Food for the Poor hosted a virtual gala for Haiti Sept. 26. Contributed photo.

The gala, which featured a silent auction and video celebration, ended up raising enough to fund more than 2 million meals, according to Angel Aloma, chief marketing officer of Food for the Poor. A recording of the gala video is available here.

The Christian nonprofit took a proactive approach to keeping donors engaged this spring, said Aloma. Donors received texts and emails that acknowledged the financial and emotional hardship created by the pandemic, while also sharing opportunities for group prayer.

“We had an overwhelming amount of response,” Aloma said about this initiative.

Entertainers play key fundraising role

For this year’s virtual fundraisers, nonprofits have used musicians and artists as ambassadors and to speak to the moment.

Food for the Poor, like other nonprofits, hosted musical entertainment at past galas, Aloma said. But this year’s livestreaming of Jamaican singer-songwriter Glacia Robinson touched on pandemic themes like endurance, love and togetherness that fit nicely with the “Celebration of Hope” purpose.

Gaston Jean-Baptiste, a master Haitian drummer known as Bonga, played during the Lamp for Haiti gala on Sept. 24. Students from New Jersey and Haiti also performed John Lennon’s classic hit, “Imagine.”

Baboun, based in Manhattan, has helped promote the “Cheers to Haiti” event. He will share what Haiti means to him and the importance of the cause on Oct. 14.

Two other Haitian performers ‒ comedian Preach of the duo Aba & Preach and spoken word artist Svens Telemaque ‒ are slated to appear.

Other performers include DJ Karaba, Cirque du Soleil artist Tuione Tovo and Kayiri, a violinist, rapper and singer. Sean McCloud, who highlights Black-owned spirits brands in his “A Taste of the Culture” YouTube series, will prepare a special “Cheers to Haiti” cocktail.

Attendees will also hear the history of the kremas drink and learn kremas-inspired recipes.

Sam is a reporter for Go West Now and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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