On April 6th 2017, The Sanford H Calhoun Senior Experience class from Merrick, NY held its annual Fashion Show and donated its proceeds to Reason2Smile. This program is an interdisciplinary humanities program that incorporates English and social studies lessons coupled with an out of school internship experience. A major component of the Senior Experience program is community service and developing leadership skills. The Fashion Show is a culmination of the students’ hard work and dedication.
100% of the proceeds are donated to an organization of their choice and Reason2Smile won 70% of the class vote this year. Myself, my son Ryan along with fellow classmate Olivia DelGandio left for Mtwapa, Kenya on April 7th for a two-week trip where we stayed at the Jambo Jipya orphanage. It was a fantastic trip full of special memories, friendships and eye-opening experiences about life in another part of the world. My family has been so supported of my work with Reason2Smile and I love when they travel with me to share my experiences. This was Ryan’s third trip to Kenya and I enjoy watching his interactions with the children and how they consider him their brother from America. Olivia also was fully accepted into the Jambo Jipya family and I know she will return in the years to come.
There were many highlights on this trip but one very special one was Ryan and Olivia’s meeting with Maureen Wairimu. Maureen’s education has been sponsored since she began attending Jambo Jipya in second grade. Her excellent grades granted her admission to the nationally recognized Bahari Secondary Boarding school for girls in Kilifi County which was also funded by a generous donor with Reason2Smile. Now Maureen has graduated and is seeking admission to university to study economics. That is where Calhoun’s Senior Experience comes in. When Ryan and I presented to the class we spoke of Maureen and her dreams of attending university as well as how Reason2Smile tries to support Jambo Jipya graduates to attend trade schools or certificate post-secondary programs. The students embraced the idea that they could make a difference in Maureen’s life by financing her university expenses. This way “seniors are supporting another senior.” The Senior X class raised 10,000USD with the Fashion Show and Olivia and Ryan got to tell Maureen the big news in person. To say she was speechless doesn’t even come close. Maureen was so overcome with emotion that we all got tears in our eyes. She is so appreciative and wants everyone to know how thankful she is. I will update you all on her acceptances as we will know shortly what university she will be attending. She is presently in Mombasa taking computer classes in preparation for college in September.