Room to Read LA Charity Event – a Success!

Ever since that random day in 2006 when I was browsing through the book store and picked up “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World”, my perspective on my career goals – Money VS Passion – has changed. I finished that book by John Wood in a few sittings, the gist of the book being that in 2000, John left his high-paying 60 hour a week Microsoft job to change the world. Room to Read Charity is found on the mission to build literacy for children in less-developed countries by building libraries and schools around the world. RtR has built 1442 schools, 11246 libraries, and benefited 5.1 million children by 2010. They are involved in Nepal, Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Laos, Zambia, Sri Lanka and South Africa. One of the things I respect dearly about this org is that they hire local individuals in the communities that they’re working in to become school teachers, community leaders and writers/illustrators for children books. As a Cultural Anthropology major and having focused on the effects of Ethnocentrism & Globalization, it is crucial that children books or any literature for that matter be printed from an outside source, should have cultural sensitivity. I like that we are not pushing our Western values to them, or religion, and all the meanwhile flourishing their economy. On top of that, the overhead in the donations are less than 17% to corporate as it is less than half of the average overhead rate at an NGO. Room to Read has a four star rating on Charity Navigator. These numbers are becoming increasingly important, especially in light of the recent Three Cups of Tea allegations regarding financial malfeasance.

Throughout the years, I’ve had Room to Read in mind, and have always referred this book to friends who are bored of their rat race job, and looking to travel and do good in this world. I’m getting close to finding that balance with my Title Career and my Charity/Travel passions. I’m finally seeing that making money in a Corporate world is not a bad thing, if you don’t get sucked into the rat race of never being satisfied and focusing on money as your passion. If you look at the money as a “tool” to all the things you’re passionate about, then it all works out, at least for me.

I finally received an invitation for a LA chapter meeting in December of last year, and attended my first meeting in January. They did not have any formal orientation at the time, and I was just thrown in the mix, but adapted very quickly. There were about 10 dedicated passionate volunteers in the room discussing the 2011 game plan. It was straight to business with sharp, sophisticated-minds. One of the main fundraising tools is our annual Gala in May. Another one is Beers for Books, which a member commits to a month to host a happy hour event with their friends and asks the bar to donate $1 or a percentage to the charity. I boldly volunteered for April. Immediately an idea clicked in my mind, and I thought if I linked up with a big networking organization, we could bring a lot more proceeds as well as awareness.

I contacted the organizer for EOW, a West LA based Social group that meets “Every other week” at a different bar/lounge after work. Approximately 150-300 people show up at these events, age ranging on average from 25-40, many singles, professionals out for a good time. As luck would have it, EOW had been established for over 3 years independently without a charge but were looking to link with a Charity. So for the past month, I’ve been actively working with the organizer in making our April Room to Read Charity party happen.

On Wednesday, April 20th, I held my first Charity event for Room to Read at the Glendon Bar in Westwood at 7pm-midnight. It was the biggest Beers for Books event to date in LA and we raised approximately $2000. I thank you all for your contribution and support! We sold pre-sale donation tickets at 14$ through Facebook, our Room to Read contacts, EOW invitations and Twitter. At the door, we collected 20$ donation. My good friend Tom Sopit at Singha Beer sponsored 250 beers, and a portion of the bar tab went to us. We had about 100 friends show up from all the different groups, kindred spirits connecting as One. It was good to see those that made the effort to come out on a wednesday night, a lot of great Business/Personal connections were made.

The Glendon bar is a trendy hidden gem in the Westwood University village. The Housewives of Beverly Hills had just left before we arrived for filming one of their episodes. Definitely a happy hour spot and weeknight spot to go back to. I am shocked I haven’t made this place a regular, most of us knowing the ever-so-crowded Palomino for happy hour. Beautifully decorated, high ceilings, gorgeous chandeliers and an upstairs’ cozy room overlooking the whole bar. The staff was friendly, adding to the whole vibe of our wonderful night.

With $2000, there are a few things Room to Read can do. We can give 8 scholarships to school girls for a year including shoes, uniform, books. We can publish 2000 copies of books. And many more. Our goal this year is to reach 6 million children, and 10 million by 2015. We’re confident we can with all your support.

My partner in crime, Documentary Film maker, Bo, making a special guest appearance between all his travels between Haiti & Afghanistan, for “Media Set Free” Productions & his post on our event – “The Art of Change for Happiness”

The Room to Read Gala is coming up in May, I look forward to it and hope to see you there!

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