'L'Africana Celebration' -- Culture, Charity and Connections

10/29/2015 04:30 pm ET Updated Oct 28, 2016

When I first thought about the idea of going to a charity event in Midtown Manhattan, there were three terms that came to my mind "stuffy, boring and uneventful." Last week's "L'africana Celebration" was anything but boring, stuffy or uneventful. It was the perfect combination of all things good about social charity events. Hosted by the Macdella Cooper foundation, the event was perfect for not only supporting a worthy cause, but as the room was packed with educated professionals, it was also a perfect playground for networking and collaboration opportunities.

In 2010 the Macdella Cooper Foundation, launched the MCF Academy, a Liberian school dedicated to providing children with free education, room and board. This event is one of several hosted by the foundation to help Liberian children affected by poverty due to the Liberian Civil War.

Unfamiliar with Macdella Cooper, the Macdella Cooper Foundation, or the MCF Academy, I really didn't know what to expect. The invitation stated it was "A Cultural Affair", but I was unsure about the vibe. I was also curious about whether it would be a toned down corporate version of "african" or an authentic cultural experience. As I stepped off the elevator at the Salisbury Hotel in midtown Manhattan, I knew it was going to be the latter. I knew was going to have a great night. Here are the three things that made my night amazing:

  • Culture
As soon as I stepped off the elevator, I noticed the artwork. That was the first step towards stimulation overload. The upbeat contemporary african music was fantastic. The food was delicious and abundant. The performers were phenomenal. A variety of masks, statues and drums were sprinkled throughout the venue, along with traditional african clothing. It was awesome.
  • Charity
While some people can afford a contribution of several hundreds of dollars - others cannot. The Macdella Cooper Foundation accepts support at all levels. A $30 donation will feed one child for an entire month. To me, a person that calculates in terms of essentials (like happy hour and Sephora shopping) it's a no brainer. Of course there were higher levels of giving, but the variety provided something for everyone.
  • Connections
Unlike traditional business networking events, charitable events bring different people together based upon interests, instead of industries. This is the perfect breeding ground to make connections and for future business opportunities, including brand collaborations.

The authenticity of the event is what made it such a success. It was real and while it provided great networking opportunities and great performances, the need to support the MCF Academy was not overshadowed. For more information about the Macdella Foundation or the MCF Academy, visit MacdellaCooper.Org .