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UNICEF Gala Shines on in San Francisco

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Caryl Stern, President & CEO of UNICEF USA (L) and Ishmael Beah, Spirit of Compassion Award Honoree at the inaugural UNICEF Gala San Francisco at the Ritz Carlton on October 7, 2017 in San Francisco, United States. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for UNICEF USA)

Last weekend, close to 300 people came together to support the work of UNICEF USA, a humanitarian organization that works to aid thousands of children in 190 countries and territories around the world.

On Saturday, October 7, the Northwest Regional Office of UNICEF USA hosted the inaugural UNICEF Gala at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. With designer Valentino as a lead sponsor, the event celebrated UNICEF’s global mission – children first, and honored UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Ishmael Beah with the Spirit of Compassion Award.

The event included many ways to raise awareness of the challenges children face around the world, such as a virtual reality bar displaying short films of children’s experiences in countries overseas and how UNICEF’s work has impacted them. The event also incorporated a ‘Water Walk’ where attendees carried jugs of water for a short distance.

Worldwide, women and young girls spend 200 million hours each day collecting water, according to the UNICEF website.

This years inaugural event raised close to $500,000 to help UNICEF continue their work providing food, clean water, immunizations and other aid to children around the world.

Honoree Ishmael Beah spoke to his own experience with UNICEF as a young boy.

Beah was first introduced to the organization as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. The work of UNICEF in his country enabled him to obtain a passport as a young boy, escape war in his country, travel to America and speak before the United Nations about his experiences as a young soldier.

“The thing that changed my life was that somebody stopped, at some point, and decided to do something, not for themselves, but for someone else,” said Beah.

“From the person who decided to work for UNICEF and goes into places of war to negotiate with armed groups to release children like me when I was a child; from the family that decided to adopt me,” he continued.

Since Beah’s appointment as UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War in 2007, he has worked towards putting children first. As a bestselling author, human rights activist, father and scholar, Beah speaks to young people around the world encouraging them of life’s possibilities.

When writing his first book, “A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of A Boy Soldier”, Beah said, “What was going in my mind was, how do I explain to people how the human spirit suffers, because everybody can relate to that. Everybody has lost something.”

He added, “I try to bring people into a world that is not so familiar to them so that they can find commonality there. Open a small window into reality that may seem so far away but it’s actually not.”

But, he stresses that the work continues.

One in 4 children around the world are severely malnourished, UNICEF USA President and CEO Caryl Stern said.

UNICEF is empowering kids to use their power for good and help others in need.

Through the UNICEF Kids Power program, 200,000 kids in the US have saved 40,000 lives of children living overseas, just by wearing a fitness band and walking 12,500 steps each day.

This season, UNICEF will also host the Trick or Treat Campaign, where children will collect funds to help those affected by disasters in the US, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

For more information about UNICEF and their different programs, visit UNICEF.org.

Activism

Higher Ground NDC to Sponsor MLK Jr. Day of Service in East Oakland’s Sobrante Park and Brookfield Neighborhoods

Higher Ground has partnered with community-based programs that will be on hand to provide valuable resources including a food giveaway, the City’s Stop Waste Program, designed to help people with gardening and growing their own food, and the Sobrante Park Leadership Council who assist residents in organizing and protecting their streets. COVID testing will also be available during the event.

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More than 170 volunteers will come together to provide service to various projects within the Sobrante Park and Brookfield neighborhoods in East Oakland.
More than 170 volunteers will come together to provide service to various projects within the Sobrante Park and Brookfield neighborhoods in East Oakland.

By Clifford L. Williams

Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) will once again participate in its 15th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 10495 Edes Avenue in Oakland.

More than 170 volunteers will come together to provide service to various projects within the Sobrante Park and Brookfield neighborhoods in East Oakland.

Higher Ground has partnered with community-based programs that will be on hand to provide valuable resources including a food giveaway, the City’s Stop Waste Program, designed to help people with gardening and growing their own food, and the Sobrante Park Leadership Council who assist residents in organizing and protecting their streets. COVID testing will also be available during the event.

Event organizers will spend the morning planting trees, community cleanup and beautification, and mural painting. There will also be resource tables, a food giveaway, Warriors’ giveaways, food trucks, and entertainment.

“This event started as a community garden with the after-school program at Madison Park Academy,” said Khariyyah Shabazz, event organizer and deputy executive director of Higher Ground. “We are now coordinating 10+ on-going projects year-round, working with 15+ community partners to make these types of programs a success.”

“Each year, our goal is to build awareness of the issues within deep East Oakland. These service days are one of many direct responses from community engagement circles and focus groups to find a solution to long-standing environmental issues and struggles that plague East Oakland, which include clean air, debris removal and illegal dumping. These solutions, coming directly from community members, are coming to surface which allows us to plant more trees and clean up our neighborhoods.”

“This news comes in the wake of recent accomplishments lead by our nonprofit group made up of small businesswomen, comprised of young, gifted, and Black, Oakland natives.”

Recent accomplishments of Higher Ground are:

  • Opening an Adult Wellness Center in West Oakland.
  • Serving as a distance learning HUB for OUSD during the pandemic.
  • Becoming a key partner implementing the bike enrichment program for Brookfield and Sobrante Park youth as a member of TCC, a multimillion-dollar project funded by the City of Oakland geared toward increasing health and wellness among young Black and Brown children in the City of Oakland.
  • Continuing to partner with neighboring organizations to lead service projects throughout the city even through the pandemic of 2020.
  • Celebrating a 10-year anniversary of providing paid internships for middle and high school youth through our workforce development program.

Higher Ground is proud to host this year’s MLK Day of Service in partnership with Roots Health Clinic, African American Sports and Entertainment Group (which was recently tapped by the Oakland City Council to purchase the Oakland Coliseum), Planting Justice, Scraper Bike team, Athenian High, District 7 City Councilmember Treva Reid, Madison Park Academy, Brookfield Elementary, Service for Peace, Golden State Warriors, City of Oakland, Alpha Phi Alpha, Bay Area Air Quality Management, and Sobrante Park Leadership Council, as well as its Resident Action Council.

To learn more about how to get involved with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, contact Ms. Shabazz at 510-415-9271 or visit www.highergroundndc.com.

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Activism

Hundreds Support Fundraiser for Marin City Youth at SEQ CHAPTER Walk-A-Thon

People started on the walk at about 11 a.m. Several booths were set up along the route to serve the walkers with snacks and information. The tent booths included F45, Orangetheory Fitness in Mill Valley, Studio 30 in Mill Valley, and Lululemon.

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From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)
From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

By Godfrey Lee

Marin City’s Walk-A-Thon 2021, which took place on Sunday morning, Nov. 14, 2021, was an enjoyable experience for the several hundred people who walked from Rocky Graham Park down the Mill Valley-Sausalito path toward Tamalpais High School, and back to the park.

The people started gathering around 9 a.m., greeting each other warmly — some dancing to the music. Most people got their printed t-shirts and number signs from the PlayMarin tent booth.

The program began with a talk from Paul Austin, the founder and executive director of Play Marin, who is working on developing youth sports activities in Marin City. Austin wants to include as many sports as possible in the program.

Terri Green, who directs the Marin City Climate Resilience and Health Justice, described the walk as the “March for Life.”

She spoke about the issues she sees as detrimental to the health and well-being of Marin City residents and pointed out that there is only one entrance and exit into Marin City: under the freeway.

This would not be sufficient if Marin City residents need to evacuate in the event of a major emergency, and so another entrance and exit is needed.

She wrote in her flyer that “80 years of walking in contaminated waters is INHUMANE!” and pointed out that the pond next to the Gateway Shopping Center and flood waters that enter Marin City are contaminated, much of the polluted water coming from the rain running off the freeway.

Green encouraged the audience to help solve these problems by contacting their public officials.

People started on the walk at about 11 a.m. Several booths were set up along the route to serve the walkers with snacks and information. The tent booths included F45, Orangetheory Fitness in Mill Valley, Studio 30 in Mill Valley, and Lululemon.

For more information on PlayMarin, go to www.playmarin.org or call Paul Austin at (415) 944-7141. Information on the Marin City Climate Resilience and Health Justice can be found on Facebook, and by calling (415) 324-7080.

From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

From top and left: Paul Austin photographing Terri Green speaking. Paul Austin and Terri Green. PlayMarin.org tent booth. Walkers on the trail. Booth at the end of the walk. Studio Thirty. Lululemon. F45. Orangetheory Fitness (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

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Activism

Samba Funk! to Hold Annual ‘Funkraiser’ in Honor of Founding Member Monica Hastings-Smith

Called MoniCarnival in memory of our beloved sister and founding member Monica Hastings-Smith, JOY 11 will feature live performances, DJs, vegan food, a youth zone, and a community bateria-style jam in a comfortable, indoor-outdoor space convenient for social-distancing.  

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Monica Hastings-Smith. Photo courtesy of SambaFunk!
Monica Hastings-Smith. Photo courtesy of SambaFunk!

By Daktari Shari, PsyD & Theo Aytchan Williams

SambaFunk! will present JOY 11, MoniCarnival, a funkraiser, celebration and party on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, on the island located at 809 50th Ave. in Oakland. This year’s event is family friendly, starting at 2:00 p.m. with youth-specific programming.

Called MoniCarnival in memory of our beloved sister and founding member Monica Hastings-Smith, JOY 11 will feature live performances, DJs, vegan food, a youth zone, and a community bateria-style jam in a comfortable, indoor-outdoor space convenient for social-distancing.

Monica was an Oakland native born on Jan. 22, 1965. After a year-long battle with cancer, she took flight to the realm of the ‘Ancestars’ at the tender age of 56. Also raised in Oakland, Monica served as an artist, activist, educator, mother, mentor, trailblazer, guiding light, and contributor to local and far-reaching creative communities of and throughout the Afro-Diaspora.

A graduate of Bishop O’Dowd and the University of California, Berkeley, she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and a co-founder of the Soul of Oakland. Monica participated in, partnered and collaborated with countless community organizations and schools including but not limited to Fogo Na Roupa, SambaFunk!, BoomShake, Manzanita SEED, and Urban Promise Academy.

SambaFunk!’s 11th Annual JOY Party, MoniCarnival will be a day party with live performances by Everyday Party, a musical duo Monica co-founded with Iwalani Venerable (@thesunflowerlioness) that offers music for young audiences; the soulful sounds of Kah Liberation (@kahliberationofficial); and the SambaFunk! performance ensemble including dancers, FunkTyme bateria and Funkternal band playing some longtime favorites also penned by Monica.

MoniCarnival will open with native son DJ Henroc spinning world rhythms and culminating with world-renowned Soul House DJ Patrick Wilson immersing the attendees in deep, soulful house music, inviting us all to take flight under the stars. Rounding out the evening will be a moving and grooving Community Drum Jam for Monica’s many percussion and drum friends to join together in harmony. All drummers are invited.

JOY 11, MoniCarnival also serves as the official launch for the 2022 Carnival season. “This is our biggest fundraising event of the year and largest family event since the COVID lockdown,” said SambaFunk! Artistic Director Theo Aytchan Williams. “I’m personally asking all supporters and well-wishers of SambaFunk! to show their support with their attendance and make a generous donation. Our goal is to raise $25,000.”

A portion of the proceeds from JOY 11, MoniCarnival will be donated to the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, which offers affordable music lessons and learning experiences centered around African American musical culture to youth and adults of all ages.

Pandemic protocols will be observed with onsite PPE and sanitizing stations. Masks are required.

To purchase tickets and make donations for JOY 11, Monicarnival, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/joy-11-monicarnival-funkraiser-day-party-tickets-204311028787.

For additional details, contact us at sambafunky@gmail.com, visit our SambaFunk.com website, or give us a call at 510-451-6100.

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