All Heart Fund Raises $100,000

The Safari Sarasota Interactive Dinner took place on Friday, November 8 in the Michael’s On East Ballroom in Florida, USA to help raise awareness and funds for the newly-created All Heart Fund at the Good Work Foundation.

The All Heart Fund was established in October in honor of Steve and Beth Knopik’s daughter, Leanna Knopik of Sarasota, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 16 after contracting a rare heart infection.

The fundraising efforts have raised more than $100,000 over the past week.

I took five minutes to chat to Kate Groch, CEO of Good Work Foundation, about the event, and what the All Heart Fund means for Good Work Foundation:

What is an “Interactive Dinner” and how does that relate back to Good Work Foundation?

Kate: Good question (laughs). Michael and Terri Klauber – owners of Michael’s on East in Sarasota, Florida – fell in love with Londolozi Private Game Reserve a number of years ago, and since then, they have been hosting group visits to Londolozi every second year. The Safari Sarasota Interactive Dinner was an idea to create an evening of fun, travel and awareness. Guests were introduced to Londolozi as a luxury safari destination, to the foods and wines of South Africa, and also to Good Work Foundation’s vision for a new model of education in rural South Africa.

And how does Chef Anna Ridgewell fit into the picture?

Kate: Anna is Londolozi’s Executive Chef. She was flown over to Florida to “lead” the evening. Basically our dynamite chef, Anna, was up on a stage demonstrating how to cook four courses while guests emulated what she was doing at their tables, essentially cooking for themselves. But more than that, Anna has been a great supporter of Good Work Foundation since she started at Londolozi. She encourages her kitchen staff to become computer literate and to enroll in the hospitality programmes that are offered through Good Work Foundation’s Londolozi Digital Learning Centre. Three of Anna’s kitchen staff recently graduated with their International Computer Driving Licenses. That’s huge, these chefs are now using google to get creative with ingredients, and they are typing up the daily menu themselves. Anna might have a formidable chopping knife, but her heart is huge and we are so proud to have her as a Good Work Foundation champion.

How will this inaugural event impact the work that is being done by Good Work Foundation?

Kate: Wow. Like many not-for-profit organisations, we rely on donations. We have come so far in the last two years, establishing and “rooting” our four digital learning centres. After a year consolidating – and perfecting the adult literacy programme – we are now about to start another big push, and to find partners who share our passion for “opening doors” in rural Africa is wonderful.

What is an example of a project that is planned for 2014?

An exciting project is Good Work Foundation partnering with local primary schools to support the advancement of digital, English and Maths literacy. The schools in the rural areas around the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve often do not have space for a computer centre or they do not have funds to invest in equipment. It makes sense for us to be able to support these schools by offering them the opportunity to “outsource” their digital literacy programmes to Good Work Foundation’s digital learning centres. The young learners have access to computers, digital whiteboards, tablets and the internet, as well as our team of educators who have been trained in education technology. Two schools have entered into a partnership with us and we are thrilled to be able to collaborate, supporting each other, supporting our community.

How else will the All Heart Fund make a difference?

Together with Steve and Beth Knopik and Michael and Terri Klauber, our vision is to create opportunities for students to travel to larger communities for additional educational and leadership experiences and to connect with real-life businesses. Oh and how could I forget, one student will be chosen to receive the Leanna Knopik Cup, an annual award that recognizes the student who, like Leanna, demonstrates the biggest “heart.”

Any final comments?

Yes, I have always said that it should never matter where you are born, you must have the opportunity to fulfill your potential and to add value to your community. From all of us at Good Work Foundation in South Africa, we send love and thanks to the selfless people who attended the inaugural All Heart Fund fundraiser at Michael’s on East. To Leanna Knopik, who inspired the All Heart Fund, our promise to you is to carry your spirit with us in all that we do. Leanna said “I want to volunteer in Africa. I’ve never been so sure of something in my whole life” and we are honored and privileged to help make that dream come true for Leanna. Lastly, to Steve and Beth Knopik, Michael and Terri Klauber, Jamie Jalwan and Anna Ridgewell, we can never thank you enough for your belief in our work and your faith in spreading our story far and wide.