Non-profit group to host charity event

Greater Richmond Interfaith Program organizes fundraiser with local musicians, artists

By Rodney Woodson, Associate Editor

To celebrate her birthday last year, Contra Costa College student Janae Harris exercised her passion for contributing to her community by organizing a charitable event to benefit the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP).

Success of the small event made way for a second annual GRIP Charity Event that will be held in Café Yesterday at 1122 University Ave. in Berkeley, California from 6 p.m. to 9 on Saturday.

A frequent volunteer for GRIP since 2008, Harris said she chose the non-profit organization because of its work to combat homelessness, outreach to the youth and because it is based in her home-town of Richmond.

“There are a lot of people without shelter or food and it really affects me,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to give back to my community.”

Held at the small, yet elegant Imagine Affairs Art Lounge in Oakland, last year’s event brought GRIP over $1,300 in donations.

This year Café Yesterday, a deli and coffee shop, will house the event. The café will also provide coffee and beer for the attendees. All performers, artists and vendors are donating their time to participate in the event.

Performers include local artists Fatimah Patrice, Lena Ro, Syx, Sef, Bad and J-Dandridge. Kalief Pleasants, the president of In Crowd Entertainment, will be hosting the entertainment for the event.

A $10 cover is required at the door, and all ages are welcome. Harris said there will be a silent auction, featuring photographs from her collection of work. Harris said she is also a freelance journalist, operating under the moniker Janae Nikole Photography.

All funds collected at the door or care of the silent auction will go to fund GRIP.

The organization operates on a more than $3.5 million yearly budget, with $2.4 million of that reserved for GRIP sponsored projects, such as the Richmond Souper Center, its Family Housing Program and the Homeless Prevention and Rapid re-housing Program.

GRIP organizes all these events operating out of the program’s headquarters at 165 22nd st. in Richmond, California.

On Saturday, the event will be somewhat of a mirror image of the inaugural one—music, spoken word, live art, food and light spirits.

Along with Harris selling her photography, there will also be two live artists painting self-inspired pieces, in addition to the live performances.

Local musician Mani Draper enjoyed being a part of the last event so much he is returning this year with plans to incorporate a live band and a DJ into his act—a musical advancement he said he has been planning in recent years.

Draper performed a poem and an acoustic song at the first charity event.

“(Last year’s event) was special,” he said. “It really felt like (the participants) were doing something special.”

Draper said he has been involved in charity work in the past for college, mostly. He said though it gave him a good feeling to help the community, the GRIP event last year garnered a stronger connection with him.

“Colleges ask you to donate so many hours,” he said, “normally around holidays.”

This charity is different for him because its purpose is to address the general need to assist those less fortunate.

GRIP Program Director Kia Croom said Harris came to her about the idea for the event, and wanted her to be a guest speaker on behalf of organization.

Croom said she has been with GRIP for four years and has been involved in charity or volunteer work for more than 12 years.

“(Harris’) volunteering (at GRIP) precedes me by at least a few years,” Croom said. “She would take pictures at events or anything we needed, she would volunteer.”

GRIP’s Souper Center serves nearly 100,000 meals per year to hungry individuals and families, according to its website,

The housing program is suited to provide transitional housing for families with children and the Permanent Supportive Housing Facility is home to eight individuals who qualify for the program.

All qualifications and applications for GRIP programs and services can be found on its website.