SUNNY ISLES BEACH — With a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean as her back drop, homegrown, internationally known jazz singer Nicole Henry made an entertaining appearance at a fundraising brunch.
The mini concert at the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort raised about $4,200 to help provide a permanent home for some of Miami’s neediest girls. Backed by a smoking trio of musicians, Henry on Feb. 7 entertained the audience of about 35 people with several jazz classics and a powerful, very fitting rendition of “Home,” from the movie and Broadway play, The Wiz.
“Home is a special thing, home may not seem perfect, and nothing is ever perfect, but what you do is to put love that you pick up along the way,” Henry said between tunes.
Jon Saxx, the talented mechanical engineer-turned-roving-saxophone-player, was the opening act, and South Florida Times Executive Editor Bradley Bennett served as the event’s emcee.
Proceeds from the event benefit The World Literacy Crusade and Girl Power, a Liberty City-based non-profit that helps steer young girls toward productive, authentic lives; and Mama Hattie’s House.
“Mama Hattie’s House will be a residential facility for young girls who are destitute, who are wards of the court, or who are in foster care,’’ Thema Campbell, Girl Power’s founder and executive director, told the audience.
The girls “will have a permanent place to grow up and develop themselves and become the young women we would all hope them to be,” Campbell said, adding that her organization is half way to its goal of raising the $15 million needed to build the facility, which is named in honor of her late mother, Hattie Skinner Bacon.
“We just identified a location, and we are in negotiations to secure the property…We hope to break ground by September of this year. My board and I are working very hard to raise money,” she said.
Girl Power includes an after-school program that serves about 45 girls, as well as a suspension alternative program that includes activities such as journal writing and conflict resolution, a summer camp, a post-arrest diversion program and its annual “It Takes A Village Conference.”
Connecting the girls to professional women who serve as mentors is a critical aspect of the program. Although the program has more than 50 women enrolled as mentors, Campbell said, “We have about 14 mentors that are really strong and are there all the time.”
Campbell said everyone can play a vital role in Girl Power’s continued success.
“Girl Power is in the community,’’ Campbell said. “We’re working hard in the community to make sure that young girls have a safe place to go where they feel loved and cared for and to help them to reach their potential, and we need the community’s support. Be a mentor, give money…we can’t do this alone.”
For more information, visit girlpowerrocks.org.
Photo by Khary Bruyning. Nicole Henry