Yoga-themed fundraiser enlists community support
Updated 12:40 pm, Sunday, January 1, 2012
On Saturday, Jan. 21, Fairfield County artists and business owners will converge to benefit a global charity.
"Demo for Dollars: Auction for Action," will celebrate the inspiration and art form of yoga, as well as raise funds for the Africa Yoga Project (AYP), a nonprofit organization that benefits the communities of East Africa. AYP is dedicated to fostering peace, improving physical, emotion and mental well-being, and facilitating self-sufficiency through the power of yoga.
The event -- which takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Saraswati's Yoga Joint, 12 Burtis Ave. in New Canaan -- will feature an intricately choreographed yoga demonstration performed by event organizer Sarah McGrath of Norwalk and her teacher Mitchel Bleier of Westport. The evening also will include live music, wine tasting, light fare and a silent auction. Admission is a suggested donation of $10 and all proceeds will support AYP.
A short film showcasing the work of AYP will be presented.
"The film is very inspiring. Although it is only 15 minutes in length, it introduces the viewer to Margaret, a young woman who AYP has directly impacted," McGrath said. "AYP works with people who are living in tremendous poverty and provides them with a sense of hope and self-worth.Through yoga, these people are propelled into a better life."
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McGrath has received great support from local artists and businesses, who have donated goods and services in support of this event. Some of the silent auction offerings currently include private yoga lessons, handcrafted jewelry and art, massages,and restaurant gift certificates.
She also has received support from Stamford-basedProMindful, Inc., which promotes mindfulness, holistic health and wellness by providing grants, scholarships, and other support to organizations and instructors who provide and teach mindfulness and integrative health.
Contributors to the silent auction include Red Grape Wine & Spirits and Bella Tu (owned by MareaDumbauld and Jeanne Daniels of New Canaan; Lulu Lemon and Jamie Camche of JL Rocks in Westport; Shaye Ann McCormick of Shay Anne Designs in Fairfield; artist and illustrator Loren DePalma, AditiGoswami of Calcutta Kitchens, Nicholas Roberts Gourmet Bistro, Vicky Cook for Reiki and Photographer Chris Bartlett in Norwalk; and artists Michelle Miller and Amy Ferrero in Wilton.
McGrath, who is a yoga instructor, said AYP is a cause that is very meaningful to her.
"The mission and work of The Africa Yoga Project has brought together many of the elements of yoga that I have experienced on a personal level to create real change in areas that are struggling in ways that I can't imagine," she said. "While Fairfield County and the slums of Nairobi couldn't be more different, I suspect there's a universal empowerment that yoga can instill: A belief that one matters and has an important place in this world. As a practitioner, I was first drawn to yoga because of the transformative power of community that it can offer, giving us as individuals greater meaning to our own lives."
In March, she will participate in a Seva Safari to Nairobi, Africa, as part of the AYP program, which has been the catalyst and inspiration of this fundraiser. While she has already exceeded her initial fund raising financial goal of $5,000, McGrath now wants to include the larger community in educating people about this organization and what they do.
"I will help AYP by raising funds for the organization as well as offering my physical labor to build something in the infrastructure of AYP that will help support the growing impact of yoga in Nairobi," she said. "Yoga has influenced my own life in such a powerful way and I want to experience how the lives of others, particularly in a place like Nairobi, Africa, have been influenced by something we have in common."
Donations to the silent auction are still being accepted. For more information on the Jan. 21 fundraiser, email McGrath at firstname.lastname@example.org
McGrath has been teaching yoga classes, workshops, and private clients in Fairfield County since 2006. She studies primarily with Mitchel Bleier of MB Yoga as well as Tracy Bleier and Donna Jackson of Saraswati's Yoga Joint -- with locations in Norwalk and New Canaan -- where she teaches the majority of her classes.
She was recently selected as ambassador for Lululemon of Westport.
The Africa Yoga Project has introduced hundreds of students in Kenya to yoga, and has also provided educational scholarships, job training, food stipends, temporary health and housing services to many Kenyans. The project has also financed the construction and opening of two new schools and an adult education program for Masaai women.
AYP connects those who want to make a difference by sharing their skills and strengths to those who can benefit from that teaching. The exchange is usually mutual and contributes equally to all. Individuals are empowered, relationships are forged, communities are healed both emotionally and physically, and new possibilities are seen and made real.
AYP's core activities on a weekly basis include:yoga practice, meditation, self-exploration through inquiry, performing arts as a vehicle for empowerment, health education (HIV/AIDS), relationship building, and community activism. All programs are designed to increase physical, emotional and mental well-being on the individual level while also building healthy and empowered communities.