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  • Writer's pictureKeyaira Boone

Them Cloud Kids Honor Kindness at The 2nd Annual Ubuntu Awards

“My soul rich/ my soul true/ that’s why I’m repping Ubuntu”

The refrain filled Rutgers’ Great Hall as attendees at the 2nd Annual Ubuntu Awards sang along with performers wide smiles on their faces.

Hosted by Newark based non-profit Them Cloud Kids, the Ubuntu Awards are a celebration of community leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and wellness activists standing out by creating a change.

Ubuntu is a philosophy of ethics and humanitarianism of South African origin.

The awards ceremony serves as a fundraiser for the organization’s youth centered community events including community feedings and culture classes.

The evening consisted of performances by The Young Picassos, Diamond the Djembe Drummer, Tyjack, Dose 2, Mama Swan, The J Simon Band, and Shelly Spinelli and The L.O.U.D. Project.

Hosts Whitney Perez and Conrad Khalil kept the crowd laughing throughout the night.

While I was dazzled by Perez’s killer boots I was really knocked out by how much Khalil looked like ya’lls boyfriend Kofi! See the resemblance?

All of the attendees had killer style. I lived for this peach dress!

These sequins on Izzy the Goddess were great but the coat cinched it for me.

Artists Heru Harrington and Chantal Herrera completed live paintings.

In addition, violinist Bri Blvk wowed the crowd with an impactful instrumental version of Jersey girl’s Sza's hit “Love Galore” receiving thunderous applause as she stepped away from the stage.

On the one year anniversary of his heart and lung transplant Wellness Award recipient Keath Gerald was recognized for his work with the NJ Sharing Network.

He shared his painful yet prosperous story of living through congestive heart failure thanks to the kindness of a stranger. He dedicated his award to “anyone who said yes to organ donation” and “any black woman who ever said I got you boo” including his mother.

Following the presentation of each award attendees were given the opportunity to enjoy refreshments provided by Chef Nikko and network with one another.

Much of the change that has been spurred by attendees this year comes from being opportunities to network.

During her acceptance speech Community Mogul Award recipient Shanea Phillips said founded her Brunch N’ Grind event series so “people can come in the room and be able to connect, to have these conversations, to help each other build and grow.”

She shared how special it is to her to see the impact that her idea is having. “People are coming to my brunches and saying ‘look I got a job after’.”

Phillips also pointed out that “today with social media we miss those in person connections.”

Often those connections can take a different shape than expected. As Innovation Award recipient Alec Ratyosyan said “As much as we look up and down, it's important to look left and right.”

Co-founder of "Feed The Souls" Freakquence wore a dapper red jacket while supporting her co-founder artist Maddy who was nominated in the "Love is Love" category.

Community Mogul nominee Ayana Iman showed up ready to slay in a stunning Marchesa gown from Rent The Runway.

It's easy to be intimidated by the wardrobe requirements (and financial investments) of formal occasions but sites like Rent The Runway make red carpet moments super simple and super affordable.

Iman is a motivational speaker and founder of the Authentic Convos event series that has facilitated conversations on gender, parenting, entrepreneurship, mental health and other topics.

Jewell Palmer struck a pose with her stylist and fellow Them Cloud Kids supporter Kayla Williams in her performance look. Williams rocked a custom design by Kurvor.

Before presenting the final award in the Help Us, Help Us category to Young Men Striving for Greatness’ Pascal Faustin whom she referred to as the “embodiment of TCK” Perez described the moment as “bittersweet” and thanked everyone in attendance including the volunteers and event staff. She also reminded everyone of the power of nonprofits noting that they contribute a significant amount to the state’s suffering economy.

Sponsors of the event included Rocky’s Minerals and Crystals, Mr. Balmbastic Beard Care, NVB, Bella Nail Lounge and Beauty Bar, Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration, Butter UP, Brown Mill, Noirci, Newark Mentoring Movement and the 1890 T-Shirt company who created a custom shirt commemorating the event.

This young lady was thrilled to win one of the evening's raffle prizes.

While Young Men Striving for Greatness is based in Irvington the organization serves the greater Essex County area. Faustin stated that their efforts are dedicated to “building stronger young men” and being “a voice and the backbone for young men in our urban communities”.

He stated how important it is to show young men that “it’s not just basketball and rap” that are viable options for success.

Wellness nominee and Founder of Curate Your Life struck a pose with her proud mommy.

Her skirt was super gorgeous.

Her partner in the "You Okay Sis" series Nicole M. Binns congratulated her on her nomination.

There's nothing like seeing young women supporting each other!

Wellness nominee Joe Moore brought his son along. Later in the evening little man wowed the crowd with his dance moves!

Moore also wore his pride on his lapel.

The evening concluded with volunteers handing out sweet treats from dessert sponsor, Nakeicha Wilson of Newark’s Mocha Chocolate Lounge, including phenomenal chocolate cupcakes and miniature banana puddings. I may or may not have snagged a second cupcake for the road #sorrynotsorry.

Everyone over the age of 21 also received an invitation to the after party at the Newark Barcade where the proceeds of each tab was donated to the organization.

Winner of the Honorary Cloud Kid Award Essynce Moore beamed at the crowd as she thanked her mother for insisting that “education must come first”.

She scanned the room and expressed her joy at seeing “so much power and influence under one roof”.

As guests poured into faux furs and brocade coats they embraced one another and wished each other well spreading the spirit they had come to celebrate.

As Moore said “I think that we can all be surprised at how much we can get done when we commit to something.”

For more information on Them Cloud Kids check here.

For more information on the people and organizations that made this year’s Ubuntu Awards possible check here.

#community #CommunityEvent #style #fashion #fundraiser #givingback #Rutgers #formal #ThemCloudKids

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