On Wednesday night, June 19, a crowd of successful individuals who have chased their own dreams, raised money to allow children in Kenya to realize theirs. The Second Annual Discover Many Hopes benefit gala was held at the Altman Building in Manhattan. Hosted by model Jessica Stam; Gossip Girl actress Jessica Szohr; and entertainer Zachary Levi, the evening included musical performances, live and silent auctions of covetable items and a presentation by the founders of Many Hopes.
Fresh faces wearing not-your-typical little black dresses and cut-and-dry suits, paused for photos on a red carpet and strolled through a tunnel with images of Kenya projected on its walls that led to the venue.
Models like Kristina Romanova and Valentina Zelyaeva, socialites and actor Sofia Vergara came to support the charity. The room was filled with personal style and designer labels. Guests swayed to the diverse performances of singer Leela James, pianist Chloe Flower and vocalist Margot MacDonald, as well as a bumping DJ set by The Jane Doze. The 600 attendees enjoyed appetizers provided by PH Events and specially created drinks by Qui Tequila and Starr Rum.
Even the live auction, led by Katie Jacobs from Christie’s, was dynamic, keeping up with the vivacious crowd. As a fun way to raise funds, each host introduced one of four categories—educate, reclaim, sustain and network— and in friendly competition urged guests to donate to “their” specific cause via text message.
Many Hopes was founded in 2007 after an encounter of the Irish and Kenyan journalists Thomas Keown and Anthony Mulongo in response to the exploitation of Kenya’s youth. Mr. Keown told the audience Wednesday night that Many Hopes was established with a “combination of cynicism and optimism;” his cynicism towards constant donation and the optimism of Mr. Mulongo for change.
Following the “100% Model,” the charity invests in sustainable development in one community at a time, focusing on homes for girls, schools, medical facilities and water efforts. It is important to Many Hopes that its projects become sustainable and generate revenue in the future. Its first home for girls, Mudzini Kwetu, in Mtwapa demonstrates room for growth.
Many Hopes is interested in long-term solutions to the country’s social and economic ills, not quick fixes. Mr. Keown said he and Mr. Mulongo see that the “problem of street children is actually the solution.” Giving affected children the confidence to overcome, through education and community, Many Hopes believes those saved will become leaders and continue the effort to break the cycle.
Hosts Ms. Stam and Ms. Szohr stumbled onto Many Hopes together, and loved its mission, as they both like working with kids. Ms. Szohr considers Many Hopes a “hand up, not a hand out.” She continued, the charity will transform these forgotten children into proactive adults, helping them realize that that “their desires, dreams and hopes can also come true.” She hopes her involvement will “raise awareness, help people make the world better,” and let us know that we also have the choice to help.