If you weren’t parting with Melky Jean over the weekend, you missed A LOT! Melky Jean’s Carma Foundation hosted their 9th Annual Geminis Give Back event at Manhattan’s Invite Only restaurant in the city’s West Village.
Founded by Melky Jean, sister of Wyclef Jean, the mission of Carma is to measurably improve the health of poor and vulnerable women and children in the Caribbean and inner cities of the United States. In the wake of the devastating earthquake to Haiti in 2010, Carma was one of the first foundations formed to address the needs of Haitian people.
“When you first decide that you’re going to do something to help people and you’re really doing it by yourself you don’t know if people are going to support you,” Jean told VIBE. “But when you’ve been doing it for nine years, it means that not only did you make the right decision, in terms of structuring everything that you do, to be able to spread the karma, but you brought a bunch of people with you.”
The black tie event was hosted by actor Miguel Nunez. The concept of giving back resonates with Nunez who admits to being homeless when he first moved to Los Angeles when he began his acting career. “It means a lot,” said Nunez. “A lot of people kinda helped me out. Nobody gave me anything and never expected anybody to give me anything. It’s important to give back. It’s the same principle to tithing. I tithe religiously. If you tithe, God says, ‘I will open up the windows of heaven and the gates will not be enough to open up for you.’ The same thing applies in life. If you help somebody, someone will come around and help you.”
Melky Jean’s commitment to Haiti is unyielding and exemplified in events like the Geminis Give Back Event where she dedicates her birthdays to hold fundraisers for Haiti in lieu of receiving gifts. This year’s honorees included socialite/yogi/humanitarian, Vanessa Bronfman; philanthropist Olivia Gaynor-Long; former WNBA player, Nadine Domond; philanthropist Claudinette Jean; and GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s Dr. Janice Johnson-Dias. Actor Hill Harper presented Johnson-Diaz with her award for her community work. He’s happy to have taken part. “I’m so happy to be here to support Carma Foundation and the work that they do,” Harper told VIBE on the event’s red carpet.
“It’s good to celebrate our women who are doing great things in our community. So, it was great to be here.”
Claudinette Jean happens to be the sister of Melky Jean as well as the wife of award-winning recording artist, Wyclef Jean. Wyclef introduced his wife as an award recipient for her humanitarian work in Haiti. During the presentation, Wyclef marveled at how selfless his wife is. He also joked and said that because his wife is so selfless with giving money to those in need, that she’s going to end up making him broke. “I’m not Jay Z,” joked Wyclef.
Claudinette shot back with: “I’ve got my own money.”
The crowd in attendance gave her a standing ovation.
In all seriousness she’s happy to be honored, but realizes the platform that she’s been given.
“We’ve been doing this since we were young; this is not new,” Claudinette told VIBE. “I know a lot of people have started doing this since the earthquake. I recommend that everybody take a trip to Haiti and see why everybody is giving back. The struggle is still there. Most of the people in Haiti have not been able to get a pair of shoes. It’s important to give.”
Wyclef was happy to present his wife with her award of excellence and fervently believes in her mission. “To say that she is a rock would be an understatement. She’s really bout it. If I’m on the ground and I’m picking up bodies next to me on the ground, she’s next to me picking up bodies with her gloves on. That’s how we get down.”
This year’s Carma Foundation was sponsored by Chef the Rose, Toast Vodka, Toney Bellissimo Clothing, From Mother’s Garden, Jenn’s Jewelry, Love Logan Productions, Invite Only, Power Messages, G Carma Inc, Papi Wines, and Heads Music. Geminis Give Back is always a highly anticipated event which has garnered the support of various celebrities such as Patti LaBelle, Vivica A. Fox, Lynn Whitfield, Anderson Cooper, John Legend, Trina, John Starks and Al B Sure.