Upper Jay Athena Pepe went to Nairobi, Africa, when she was just 10 years old.
Her mother brought her there to do volunteer work at an orphange where a lot of the children’s parents had died from AIDS.
If You Go:
What: Jam for a Cause
When: Sunday, March 17, from 2 to 6 p.m.
Where: Upper Jay Arts Center, the corner of Springfield Rd. and Rt. 9N in Upper Jay
Cost: There is a $5 suggested donation for this event.
She left with a sense of purpose, the importance of helping others had become clear, and the memories of the living conditions made her want to do more.
“What I saw was extreme poverty,” Pepe said. “There were little kids walking miles and miles to get water they had to strain the mud out of for their families.”
That was almost 10 years ago.
Today, Pepe is a senior at Keene Central School.
When it came time for Pepe to do her senior legacy project—a project that gets students to leave a legacy by helping others—her thoughts went back to Nairobi.
She remembered a presentation Keela Grimmette, founder and executive director of Reason 2 Smile in Lake Placid, gave at her school a couple years ago.
Pepe learned that the non-profit organization focuses on helping kids in developing countries, specifically orphaned and at-risk children.
So she contacted Grimmette, and devised a way to help.
On Sunday, March 17, from 2 to 6 p.m., January Jams will return to the Upper Jay Arts Center, but this time, it’s for a cause.
There is a $5 suggested donation, with all proceeds going toward Reason 2 Smile.
Musicians of all skill levels can sign up and perform and, halfway through the event, Grimmette will give a presentation to explain what Reason 2 Smile is all about.
“I think in order to appreciate what you do have, it’s important to see what other people don’t have,” Pepe said. “Even if people can’t give much money, I think it would be good to see her presentation anyway, just to know.”