A Community in Decline:
Don't Preach Me a Sermon, Live Me One
I just received the following letter from the Kierrah Foundation. Read it and weep--but don't just weep for them, weep for the entire Black community:
You said it was unbelievable that the Black community won't step up to the plate to help its own, but you're new to this, I just brought it to your attention. It's far from unbelievable to me, since I've been living with the impact of it for years now. I've spent 3 years crying (I mean literally crying) over the community's lack of response to my pleas to help these former foster girls and their children. As I send you this email tonight, I'm not only having to deal with the disappointment of a community that's turning its back on its own, but I'm actually being ridiculed for my efforts. Here's the situation:
The Kierrah Foundation does not receive any funding from the City, County, State of Federal Government, why we don't is another story and we will talk about that at another time–and believe me, it's deep. In any event, as a result, my husband and I raised funds for our day to day operations through Celebrity Fundraising Events. It's a lot of work, but I am grateful for the journey. Not only do we help young women between the ages of 17 and 26 when they age out of the foster care system without family or friends. We also help them with their children.
To plan and host Holiday Events for them and their children takes up a lot of my time alone. Over the years, I have begged people in the community, including churches, newspaper people, radio stations, etc., to help me simply by donating their venue for events. Most of the time, they just flat out tell me NO. Other times, it's like OK but we charge $1200 to use our facility or we'll donate the facility but you have to give us XX amount of dollars from your proceeds. "Excuse me people, this is a FUND RAISING EVENT" for young women in OUR COMMUNITY that society has discarded and the county, state and the federal government have turned their backs on because there's no more money in it for them." And trust me Eric, I have been everywhere.
So with that said, I decided that I needed to reach outside the community because I need help. I ran into a friend that asked me had I heard of the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood. Of course, I hadn't, but she took me over there. This place sprawls over 3 blocks and the White Folks over there were so impressed with what I was trying to do for the young women and children. YES, this property is owned by the Church Of Scientology, but it is not the church. They asked me what dates I needed, what time, how many people, etc. And I gave them that information and went on to explain what I was trying to accomplish. You will not believe this but they told me that I could use their venue for FREE whenever I needed to have a Fundraising Event. I was floored.
So the deal is now, Black Folks are calling me all kinds of names, saying I am exposing my women and children to a cult and that I ought to be shamed of myself. Well Eric, the only thing the Celebrity Centre has required of us is that we let them do a 7 minute presentation about Scientology. They do not take anyone's name or information or impose themselves on the attendees to become Scientologist, they have their brochures sitting in the foyer for anyone that is interested. They do not come into the event other than that 7 minute presentation and it's only one person, not the entire church or even a group of people. This is no more than anyone else does. If you go to a church and have an event, they want to preach to you. When Anthonly Samad has his Urban Issues Breakfast at the African American Museum, the Director comes out and tells you about the musuem and asks for your support. So what's the difference?
Eric, I am just a Chicago girl that was raised that "you are no more than the lives you touch". And I was taught that really early in my life. I believe in my heart of hearts that these young women and their children are my appointment not my assignment and I have to help them whatever it takes to do it. Bottom line: The Kierrah Foundation is not a "faith-based" non profit. The young women we serve are adults and we encourage them to make their own choices in life and that includes their religious beliefs. As far as our exposing children to something, Uh! Wait a minute!! What about all that horrible stuff they are exposed to on Skid Row on a daily basis!! Every child that we serve has a mother present. These children are the former foster girls' children not ours. And every parent has the right to decide for their own child.
But despite what anyone says, I am having my next three events at the Celebrity Centre. They don't charge me a dime, I can bring my own food, my own sponsors, my own art people,etc. All those things are essential to raising the needed funds that I have earmarked for the holiday and also my girls and their children will have a wonderful Holiday Season because of it.
So NO, I am not surprised by the response or lack of. Some of the people on your email list have been contacted by me and my husband time and time again. And you know what, I have yet to get a respond from some of them. But when Patti LaBelle was here last year and her LaBelle Community Football League sponsored on of the Holiday Events for The Kierrah Foundation, some of those same people were calling and emailing me all over the place. And when I reminded them that I had sent them an email early in the year, they acted like they didn't know what I was talking about. And then the cold thing about it, some of them came out to my event to hang out with Patti LaBelle not to support me and Stan and The Kierrah Foundation. It's sad. Perhaps you can write something about it.
Let's be honest here. If this 12 year old Jordan Coleman, who is the voice of "Tyrone" on The Backyardigans, had jacked somebody or killed somebody, he would be front page news. But NO, Jordan took his earnings and wrote, directed and produced his own movie about the importance of education for African American boys. We all should be rallying around this child, not ignoring emails and give lame excuses why we can't do it. If it were not for the fact that Jordan wants to do this on November 6 & 7, I would do for him myself out of my own pocket.
Eric, please keep this in mind. No one, and I mean NO ONE in the Black Community who has money or power has helped me, although I have reached out to the majority of them (not all of them). It's the Black Folks like me and Stan that don't have nothing that all get together and pitch in to make things happen. Every single Black person that has every donated their money, time or energy to The Kierrah Foundation, were not in the position to do it, BUT THEY DID.
Eric, I thank you so very much for all of your help. YOU WANNA HEAR SOME UNBELIEVABLE?!!! You are the only one that answered my email!!! And I sent out 93 emails. But YOU were the ONLY one who responded and you are the only one that has shared my desire to get this wonderful kid out here to do his film. And you know although I love you for it, that's SO SAD. But like my husband said, "All you can do is DO YOUR PART" and I know in my heart that YOU and I have.
Email me back and tell me what's the best time to talk to you. I wanted to call you but I don't want to disturb you when you are working. Email me back Eric and tell me what you think of my situation with the Celebrity Centre. I would be interesting in knowing what you think I should be responding to this people who are criticizing me. Do you think I should be defending myself against these folks that will not support me? Tell me.
"People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " - Audrey Hepburn
Pamela "Brandy" Sanders
Spotlight On Sisters, Producer/Organizer
The Kierrah Foundation, Founder/Executive Director
311 N. Robertson Blvd. Suite 528
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Eric L. Wattree
I take great pride in being the product of adversity, because having simply survived provides me with unassailable credentials.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Posted by Eric Wattree at 4:42 AM