This post is sponsored by Uber.

Last week Ben Blair and I attended the Haiti Partners‘ Annual Scholarship Benefit, and I’ve been wanting to tell you about it. Such a fun night! This was the second year we attended, and the goal of the event has 2 parts: 1) to celebrate the accomplishments of the 30 students in the advancing class of 2028, and 2) to raise $25,000 to pay for another year of their schooling. The entire class is on scholarship thanks to the support of citizens here in the Bay Area.

The benefit is hosted by BAR Architects, in their very cool San Francisco offices. They bring in great food, live Caribbean music, and keep the rum and wine (and Pellegrino) flowing.

It was a really rainy evening, and I was so glad we called an uberX. It’s the BEST for trips into the city. So convenient. Especially for evening dates and events. We don’t have to think about parking (which is the worst in San Francisco), we don’t have to negotiate traffic (also the worst in San Francisco), and we don’t have to navigate. We can just sit back and relax and enjoy each other’s company, and get dropped off right at the entrance of wherever we are going. It feels like the date starts when the uberX picks you up, instead of when we arrive at our location — and makes me want to send an Uber gift card to every couple I know who could use a night out.

At the Benefit, all over the walls are photos of the students in the class of 2028, plus information about the buildings, coursework and accomplishments. And maybe my favorite part: there’s a Haitian Marketplace full of handmade goods from craftspeople in Haiti. (I came home with two super cool bags and a pretty soap dish carved from soapstone.)

We feel very connected to Haiti Partners — in fact Ben Blair sits on the Board of Directors. On the way to the event, as we relaxed in our uberX (a really luxe Lincoln, driven by a woman in her early twenties named Zelaikha), we talked about how the connection came to be and the unexpected paths our lives and passions sometimes take.

We first got involved through our friend Jesse Engle. Jesse’s brother is the founder of Haiti Partners and Jesse supports the cause by helping with the website and tech issues. At one point Jesse needed a videographer who would come to Haiti and capture footage as they announced a new program called Language Hangouts, and he invited Ben Blair and Ralph to do the video work. It was a great trip — the video work turned out wonderfully, and the program launch was successful. As a bonus, Ralph felt really useful using his French.

Since then, we’ve stayed connected, donated when we could, promoted the Language Hangouts, and generally felt involved. Ben Blair being asked to join the Board of Directors gives us an even deeper connection. Haiti Partners is an organization we love to support.

I briefly mentioned the school, and I want to tell you a little more about it. The Haiti Partner’s Children’s Academy launched in 2012 with 30 three-year-olds — the future class of 2028. Each year the school adds a new building or expands facilities to add another class of students. There are now 212 students enrolled.

At this event, the costs of a year of schooling for that first class of kids, now 8 years old, is funded. If you feel an urge to get involved, you can make donations here, or even volunteer to do a Language Hangout — it’s a video chat where you can help students at the academy practice English. (It’s super fun, I promise. And doesn’t take much time.)

Being there got me thinking about how people come to champion different causes. What connections do they feel? What are their stories? I mean, we’re not Haitian, we’re not related to anyone in Haiti, and yet we feel this connection and a drive to get involved with this organization. Sometimes I wonder: Why this and not other things? 

There are so many needs in the world, and I know we can’t do everything; we have to choose how to spend our time and resources. And I think that’s okay. I think it’s just fine — totally normal and healthy — that not everyone feels called to work on every cause. I like to think that there are enough good people in the world that every cause and need can get it’s due attention (not to say that it is getting it’s due attention). Is that just wishful thinking?

 

It was such a fun night. It felt like the perfect kick off to the holiday season. It got me in the giving frame of mind and thinking about how to make our Christmas feel more meaningful.

How about you? Has your holiday season kicked off yet? If yes, what kicked it off? And what are your thoughts on supporting charities and non-profits? Do you feel connected to certain issues or organizations? Have you felt your energies pulled toward one cause but not another? Do you feel settled about that? Or does it stress you out?

 


This is a 3-part series I’m doing with Uber. Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.