Conversation: A Perfect Birthday Gift is Supporting Kerosene Lamp Foundation’s March $10K Campaign

Kerosene Lamp Foundation

As you’re spending time trying to figure out what the perfect birthday give would be for someone, why don’t you consider donating to that person’s favorite charity? That’s exactly what Orlando Magic star Adonal Foyle hopes his friends and fans do to celebrate his birthday. Foyle, who turned 34 on March 9, kicked off a March $10K Campaign to support his Kerosene Lamp Foundation.

Foyle is hoping to raise $10,000 to support his foundation’s Athletics & Academics Camps in his native St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These camps go beyond teaching basketball skills, to also address the areas of health, particularly HIV/AIDS and nutrition, as well as social skills and education, with a focus on literacy.

Progress Avenue recently caught up with Kerosene Lamp Foundation Executive Director Shiyana Valentine to discuss the campaign, and the camps:

Progress Avenue: I think it’s a nice gesture to celebrate Adonal’s birthday with a fundraising effort. But how do people contribute to the March $10K Campaign?

Shiyana Valentine: We’ve been doing a lot of online stuff, getting the word out that way and using several viral marketing techniques. We’re holding a raffle and calling it the Manic March Giveaway, sort of like the deriverative of March Madness. Each raffle ticket is $10, and we’ll be drawing winners for such prizes as an Adonal Foyle NBA jersey signed by him, Dwight Howard’s basketball shoe, or Mickael Pietrus’ autographed shoe.

Kerosene Lamp Foundation

PA: You’re about a week into this fundraising campaign. Has the response so far been what you expected?

Valentine: Yeah, we’re right on target, which is really nice. It’s been gratifying. There hasn’t been response to the raffle which is interesting. But people have just been giving direct donations. We’ll take that. We’re happy. The target is $2,000 each week. We’ve made that the first week and we’re on track for the second week as well.

PA: You use these camps to encourage youth to take ownership of their health and education. What kind of health and education programs are a part of these camps?

Valentine: We integrate health and education talk into the basketball camp. Basketball is the hook to get the kids there. We’re definitely teaching basketball skills. What we do is break the camp into different stations. We have a dribbling station and a rebounding station. We’ve got an HIV/AIDS awareness station, and there we play games to show them the enormity of HIV/AIDS and teach them in a fun way. Then we have a sports psychology station to give them little tips on how to block out distractions while they’re doing their homework and things like that.

What Adonal really wants to do is inspire them and tell them how important it is to focus on their education because that’s the way they’ll be able to get college scholarships. And eventually we would like to be able to establish some sort of scholarship fund.

Kerosene Lamp Foundation

PA: From a basketball perspective, do these kids have much experience with the game?

Valentine: It completely varies. It goes from the little kids who have never played and don’t have an understanding of the game, to middle-aged kids who have had a little bit of play time but not so much, especially for the girls who play netball, and for the boys who are more interested in soccer. But basketball is now becoming much more familiar. Then we’ve got the older kids as well. But there’s a real range. The Grenadines is a former British colony, so definitely they have the traditional soccer, but basketball is slowly gaining ground, with Adonal having gone to the NBA. And now we recently had two females join the WNBA.

PA: You were recently named Executive Director after serving on the board for a number of years. Now that you’re in more of a leadership role, what’s the direction of your organization?

Valentine: The camps have been great. I think it’s a really important and exciting activity to be a part of, and the kids really enjoy it. You build all this excitement and anticipation, then you have the camp and it’s in the summer time, and then it’s sort of ‘and then what?’ Then the pro players and coaches go back to the states and we sort of leave the kids hanging. I’ve always wanted to be able to do more. So we’re working to put things in place where these kids see us and hear from us year round.

We’d like to do an annual event in the fall for when kids start off the school year. We’re also going to be putting in place a program to encourage communities to get together and come up with their own ideas on how they can help. A small component of that is getting them to become more engaged and active.

30% of the population is under 15 years old, so they really are the future of that country. And we really want to help shape how they’ll grow up into adulthood.

For more information on the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, please visit www.kerosenelampfoundation.org.