Wednesday, December 10, 2014

NYC to DC to GE

Hi everybody, hope all is well.  New York is aflurry (is that a word?!) with the first snowfall of the season and, as I prep to head back to the Muthaland in just a few short weeks, I am enjoying the dark, coziness of December on the East Coast.  Moshi is gonna be the exact opposite - hot, hot, HOT!

At any rate, I write to you the day after my third and final fundraising event of 2014.  The first two were replications of last year's "friend-raiser," held at the home of one of my new board members, Romana Li, an old family friend and a business-savvy, fundraising maven (see "Event-fully Yours" and "Event-fully Yours Redux" in the November and December 2013 blog archives respectively).

This year, we started the "friend-raising" season with an event in New York held in the community room of my parents' Upper West Side apartment building.  (I believe I mentioned that with my mother's recent retirement, I have a new Momager slash publicist slash social secretary slash travel agent??  Well, add "hostess with the mostest" to that list since she threw herself headfirst into the planning of this event with a fervor I've not seen since my Bat Mitzvah in 1989.)  Angi joined me in presenting the Project to the various attendees (former publishing colleagues of mine, NYU Law School and private practice tax peeps of my Dad's, NYPL and Schomburg literary types from my Mom's work, my sister's boyfriend, etc - a motley crew to be sure) as did "Big Mike," my fond moniker for Mr. Cartusciello who visited us in Tanzania with his family this past July (see "Kicking and Screaming" and "Jenga" in the August 2014 archives).

It was a great success from both the point of explaining the Project as well as raising a few shillings, and since me and Big Mike are Yankees' fans, I've taken to using baseball metaphors when describing our experience: a couple base hits for me and Angi, knocked in by Big Mike for a three-run homer!  Speaking of baseball - and knowing of a certain torch I carry - Big Mike also says that he has been trying to get in touch with the Turn2 Foundation, Derek Jeter's charitable organization, on Toa Nafasi's behalf, so we'll see if a (love) connection can be made!!  Meantime, check out the quite horrible photos taken by my Dad below; brilliant legal mind he may possess, artful eye, not so much....

The second event of the year was hosted by another new board member, Barbara Finkelstein, a former colleague of my Mom's at the University of Maryland and an expert educator.  It was largely the same, or a similar crowd, as last year, of family, friends, and family friends, but wonderful nonetheless, and a perfect coda to the "friend-raiser" events.

Angi came down from Boston again and gave her spiel after I did my thang, but Big Mike couldn't make it as he and Mrs. Cartusciello were celebrating their anniversary.  Still, we managed without him, and it was fun having Angi at the old Rosenbloom homestead for a night.  This time, the only photo taken was by my friend Anna Greenstone with whom I worked briefly at the School of St. Jude in Arusha (I was there only three months before rejoining Visions in Action in early 2009) and you can see me looking quite tall in my monster wedge shoes next to Anna's friend, Khadija, an mzanzibari who was a fun guest at the event - and certainly could vouch for the poor conditions in public primary schools in TZ and the need for programs like Toa Nafasi.

Last but certainly not least, yesterday, sans Big Mike AND Angi, I presented at a daytime event for the tax team at General Electric Capital.  The connection obviously came through my lawyer Pops, but even he knew very few of the people present.  So, it was a bit nerve-wracking to say the least!!  However, I was put at ease by the fact that I showed the Project as part of a "good deeds day" in which one of the GE head honchos had partnered with a local NGO supporting at-risk kids in the Stamford, CT area.

The whole thing took place in a cute little diner where the GE staff had taken over as servers and all funds raised went to Domus, this American NGO.  I was therefore able to latch on to that idea and raise a little bit of money for Toa Nafasi and some of the Domus youth even came and asked questions about what it's like to live in Kilimanjaro and how they could help their African counterparts (though Domus kids are considerably older than my primary school rugrats).

Anyway, even though I had to carry the presentation on my own, I can pretty confidently say I nailed it (!!), and the laid-back setting and jovial, familiar nature of the tax lawyers actually set me very much at ease - who woulda thunk it??  I've got no images of this event at all, which basically just means I should add another title to my Momager's extensive duty list: paparazzo.

Anyway, that's pretty much what I've been up to the past couple of weeks.  Going forward, I am getting ready for my repatriation into Tanzania, both excitedly anticipating the sun on my face and little grubby hands at my sides as well as steeling myself for the hard work, new case studies, and various frustrations that I will inevitably encounter....

But, whatever will be will be, it's all Tanzania to me!

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