Yesterday, Ne-Yo and his organization, The Compound Foundation partnered with The Boys & Girls Club of America Harlem and The Children’s Aid Society for Ne-Yo’s 7th Annual Giving Tour. Ne-Yo kicked off the tour yesterday in Harlem and the national platform proceeds today in Los Angeles, Las Vegas on December 4th and ends in Atlanta on December 5th. People in attendance for the holiday event were Adrienne Bailon, Angela Simmons, 12-yr. old musical prodigy Jovanie Vital, ACS Commissioner Ronald E. Richter and CNN Heroes honoree Danielle Gletow of One Simple Wish.
Growing up, Ne-Yo spent lots of his youth in The Boys & Girls Club. “The Boys & Girls Club taught me what self-esteem is,” he said. “It taught me that being an individual is something that will help me as opposed to something to be ashamed of. The things that made me different from everybody made me special and I learned that in the Boys & Girls Club and these are things that I took with me in my career and become the man that stand before you today.”
Five hundred children ages 3-18 years of age received apparel, toys, footwear, electronics, skincare, bicycles, gift certificates, cupcakes and assorted beverages. The Giving Tour focuses on the true holiday experience, while alleviating pressure on families that would have had to choose between purchasing holiday gifts and necessary staples. “The Compound Foundation is pleased to support foster care and underprivileged children whose families may have limited resources during the holiday season,” said Khalilah Abdul-Baqi, Executive Director of The Compound Foundation. “The Giving Tour provides an opportunity for local communities to partake in the enormous needs of many local families and create a memorable holiday season in New York City for foster children who are often forgotten.”
Ne-Yo goes into deep discussion with the issues that most foster care children face daily. “You go to these group homes, you see kids being housed, clothed and fed, but not enough kids being inspired to be anything else than that,” he explains. “We make these kids understand that your circumstance has nothing to do with your future. What you’ve become and where you come from don’t have to have anything to do with each other. Don’t let the fact that you grew up they way you grew up become an excuse to not do anything with your life.
We also deal with life skills that children may not pick up being forced to grow up that way,” he continues. “Moving from house to house with all of your belongings…you may not balance a checkbook or know how to fill out a job application or create a resume. We step in to make sure these kids have these life skills.”
Ne-Yo also speaks of the controversial medication vs. discipline for children within the foster care system. “You were taken away from the only family that you’ve ever known and thrown into a household full of strangers…you might have discipline and behavioral problems too,” he explains. “That don’t mean give the a pill and throw them in the corner. Be a parent and discipline. That’s what it’s about. Not these drugs that kids way younger than they should know these drugs knowing these drugs. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Ne-Yo discussed the vital need for “Giving”, whether of time, efforts or gifts, this holiday season. “We are proud to have our sponsors: One Simple Wish, Carol’s Daughter, Creative Reaction, Together We Rise, Hasbro, Ubisoft and Vita Coco taking part in this charitable giving effort” he said. “The items we receive from these companies will lift the hearts and spirits of the children in foster care across this country. What greater reason to give, what greater reason to tour than to uplift those who need us most.”
“We need people who are dedicated in making a difference in these kids’ lives,” Ne-Yo’s mother, Loraine Smith adds. “We need people who do more than just write a check or volunteer, which is awesome. We decided we want to make more than a bigger impact, a bigger connection with these children because not only they need things, but they need people to connect with them when they decide to go to college and they don’t have anywhere to go during the holiday break. Maybe they have somewhere on the phone that they can talk to. They have someone who might have built a relationship with them that they might be able to come and spend the holidays with them. Maybe somebody can point them to a place they can have a room for the weekend. They need things when they leave the families. if they haven’t developed a close relationship with their foster parents, then they are basically on their own. They need people to connect and that is one of these steps we are going to take in the Compound Foundation.”
Toys and monetary contributions can be sent to: The Compound Foundation, 5665 Atlanta Hwy, Suite 103-238, Alpharetta, GA 30004 payable to The Compound Foundation or via their website www.compoundfoundation.org