Parkites ready Nakuru Hope Fundraiser
Park City resident Thad McGowan and his girlfriend Kelly Third have a special connection with the children of Nakuru, Kenya.
They both have spent a lot of time there, and when Third visited back in 2007, she met Susan Saleeba, who would become the founder of Nakuru Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides food and education and gives refuge and counsel to those who are in need.
"They worked together in another organization with children and then Susan decided to start her own organization called the Nakuru Hope Foundation, after she saw a need for a school and orphanage in the Kaptembwa area, which is a big slum on the edge of Nakuru," McGowan said. "She got together with Christopher Makokha, and opened the Gabriel Learning Center. Susan is the main fundraiser for the facility and Christopher is the school’s and orphanage’s program director."
The school is named after one of the student’s grandfathers who recently passed away.
"The school and orphanage, which were run in a smaller facility, just opened last summer in a bigger space that includes not only a beautiful school and orphanage, but a living space for volunteers who come and stay and help with the children and their families," McGowan said. "The school and orphanage serves more than 200 children, who not only attend the school each day, but also they get two good meals."
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, McGowan and Third will host a Nakuru Hope fundraiser at The Wine Dive at the Boneyard, 1251 Kearns Blvd., on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
All proceeds will benefit the Nakuru Hope Foundation and the school and orphanage, McGowan said.
"We’ll have some computers and iPads set up so people can donate on the spot," McGowan said. "They can also use the computers to set up volunteer opportunities."
The kids who attend the school are aged between 5 and 16, and the orphanage serves approximately 35 children as young as 2 and as old as 16.
"Once they graduate, if they have good grades, they attend a boarding school," McGowan said.
In addition, the foundation works with more than 750 families and helps them with food, medicines, HIV education, family planning and housing, according to its website http://www.nakuruhope.org.
The foundation has also formed a co-op with a group of sewing ladies who make school uniforms for which they receive an income. It also has a class of seniors citizens who are learning to read and write for the first time.
Last year, the Nakuru Hope Foundation’s farm started to help in the preparation of nearly 1,500 meals a week.
To raise money, McGowan and Third will sell photographs taken by some of the Gabriel Learning Center students.
"While Kelly and I were in Nakuru, we gave the kids our point-and-shoot cameras and they took pictures of their friends and other students," McGowan said. "When we went through the photos, we found that some of them were quite good and showed the day-to-day life in the school and orphanage and they also showed the kids being kids.
"So, we will have photos of the kids set up with the information regarding who took the photos and who the kids are," he said. "These photos will be available for silent auction."
The silent auction, and accompanying opportunity drawings that will be held throughout the night, will also include additional items from local restaurants, ski shops and massage therapists, according to McGowan.
"Any little bit can help," he said. "You would be surprised at how far U.S. dollars will go in Kenya. Just a little will buy groceries for kids, help with their school fees and create a healthy environment where kids from the slum have a safe place to come have a meal and get an education. And that will hopefully create some change."
McGowan is also grateful for The Wine Dive and Boneyard.
"They have been really supportive and they’ll have some food and a regular cash bar open during the fundraiser," he said.
Unlike other fundraisers, the Nakuru Hope event does not require registration.
"We decided not to do any type of door fee, although we may do a suggested donation at the door, but the event is really open to anyone who wants to come and check it out," McGowan said.
The Nakuru Hope Fundraiser will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at The Wine Dive at the Boneyard, 1251 Kearns Blvd., from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/events/760630890748797 . For more information about the Nakuru Hope Foundation, visit http://www.nakuruhope.org.