New York City
- Fashion designer and altruist Donna Karan
hosted a fundraiser at her Greenwich Street Urban Zen
Center for the people of a nation whose devastation from nature's fury makes our latest inconveniences look like a broken nail after a French manicure.
Haitian-American attorney and former Nassau County Clerk Democratic nominee Carrie Solages.
Just 10 months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed at least 100,000 people, 1.3 million homeless Haitians huddled in refugee camps were subjected to the winds, rain and flooding produced by Hurricane Tomas in November. Thankfully, the hurricane did not hit the island nation with its full force. However, with Haiti still so devastated in the aftermath of the earthquake, Mother Nature did not have to flex much muscle to add to the horrific conditions and fuel the fear that cholera may now reach epidemic proportions.
The Urban Zen Foundation event was called "The Truth," a Multi Media Exhibition & Auction of Film Images and Artworks by Haitian, Haitian American and Haitian-Inspired Artists." Curated by acclaimed fashion photographer Marc Baptiste
, all proceeds benefited Urban Zen's "Hope, Help and Relief Haiti" mission sending "Gifts of Love" to the people of Haiti this holiday season.
A companion online charity auction entitled "The Truth: A Haiti Hope, Help & Relief Auction" will be open to bidders worldwide at leading charity auction site CharityBuzz through January 21 at www.charitybuzz.com/TheTruth. The online auction features 68 stunning photographic works of art from the exhibition. Photographic sponsor Polaroid donated all printing and framing services for the live, silent and online auction.
Wyclef Jean headlined the music and dance at Urban Zen's "The Truth" fundraiser.
"The Truth" drew an estimated 500 supporters for an evening that celebrated the art, culture and indomitable spirit of the Haitian people. Karan and Baptiste were among several speakers including human rights activist and film maker Kerry Kennedy
, native Haitian earthquake survivors and international first responders that urged the crowd to carry the message forward that the work of recovery is far from over on the island nation and that continued support is necessary.
Karan renewed her call for "utilizing Haiti's extraordinary art and culture as a catalyst for its future sustainability." To that end Urban Zen has been importing products and art from Haiti and is spearheading a campaign to empower and employ through the synergy of culture created commerce. She urged all gathered to look into the faces of the Haitian people in both the framed art for auction and the oversized digital images that were projected around the room and see in those faces a people whose spirit, pride and dignity could not be defeated.
Those images were not lost on several bold face corporate names familiar to the Hamptons as Jeffery Beri
of The Lauren Berger Collection noted, "What is most important to me is not just myself and my company, but also reaching out and there are different ways of reaching out. Although I am raising money for Haiti, I took out the last three days of my job to make sure I got into the UN to sit down with the Ambassador to the UN for Haiti to better understand where the money is going and what needs to be done. Let me just tell you this, this cause is executing with all eight cylinders. They are not just sending money; they are sending supplies like whistles and solar flashlights to protect women who are being raped. For kids who don't have a roof over their heads, they are sending tents. For people who don't have shoes, they are sending shoes. That is the right way to work."
President of Madame Paulette John Mahdessian greets Lauren Berger Collection Partner Jeffery Beri while viewing the auction art on display.
Commenting on the difficulty in keeping charity on the front burner during such trying economic times, John Mahdessian
of Madame Paulette
said, "I think it is extremely important, now more than ever, to keep conscious of our own obligations to give back as little or as much as we can individually and collectively."
The evening's musical and dance performances were headlined by Haitian born musician and record producer Wyclef Jean
, whose relief organization Yele Haiti has literally been on the ground since almost day one of the earthquake.
There was a palpable energy of hope and optimism that permeated the festivities. As Elmont based Haitian-American attorney and former Nassau County Clerk Democratic nominee Carrie Solages
stated, "I am very privileged to be here in the company of so many people that see the need in Haiti and are willing to count themselves as giving members of the family of mankind."
Prior to the event Baptiste proclaimed, "Haiti will never die! With dignity, dedication and gifts of love we will emerge from this tragedy a stronger community and nation. Education above all - both within Haiti and around the world - is the key."
For more information go to www.urbanzen.org
Attendees listened to the impassioned pleas of the speakers while oversized images of Haiti's need were displayed around the room.
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com