BROOKINGS – Two years ago, Tina Davis and her daughter Grace staged a swim-a-thon to raise money for the Obakki Foundation. This year, the Brookings duo is giving their fingers a workout, playing piano at senior living centers.
“This time, we wanted to make sure that our project benefited the community,” Tina said. “I love sharing music with people, it’s just, you speak a whole different language.”
Grace, 12, started playing piano when she was about 3 years old, getting lessons from her aunt, LeeAnn Meyer. Tina also takes lessons from her sister-in-law.
Grace has played at StoneyBrook Suites in Brookings off and on for a few years to help her get “the feel for playing in front of people,” she said.
“Since we both love to play piano so much, we decided to do this series of concerts for the retired people to raise spirits and hopefully raise money for the foundation,” Grace said.
“Not to mention, they are a really non-judgmental audience and they seem to really enjoy it,” Tina said with a laugh.
Their hope is people would donate to the piano concerts, just like they did for the swim-a-thon, which raised $1,300. So far, their concerts have raised $400, but they only have until July 31 to keep raising money. That’s the deadline for this year’s fundraiser.
They’ve scheduled two more concerts: one at 12:30 p.m. today at United Living Community and another at StoneyBrook Suites Assisted Living at 2 p.m. Monday. The public is invited to attend since the concerts are played in a common area. Donations may be made online at https://obakkifoundation.org/donations/passion-for-piano-2/ to count for the Davis’ fundraiser.
“We’ll keep playing even after the fundraiser,” Tina promised. “Once you start, you just can’t stop. I mean, they have so much fun and they’re so cool about it.”
“They enjoy it, so it’s a win/win,” Grace said.
This is the third year that the Obakki Foundation has sponsored Live With A Purpose. The goal of the Canadian company is to raise money to dig wells in Africa, which the Davises like.
“They were just founded in 2009, and they were already able to build 900 water wells,” Tina said. “Their primary fundraiser is Scarves for Water. Different villages have a different color. If they sell 500 scarves, they can build a well for that village.”
Obakki has also built 12 schools in Cameroon and South Sudan, including a school for the deaf, and supports orphanages like the St. Valentine’s Home for Boys, Tina said.
The Live With A Purpose campaign is for people’s individual fundraisers, like the Davises’. The winner gets a trip to Cameroon to help build a well with the group, said Grace. The winners last year were also able to visit the home for boys, doing some minor repairs and reading to the boys, Tina said.
“It would just be a dream come true to actually go and see that firsthand and participate,” Tina said. “Grace could go, too. It’s a trip for two.”
Even if they never get to go, they know they’re making a difference.
“There’s two huge things that draw me to the Obakki Foundation,” Tina said. “(The first is) 100 percent of your donations go to the specific projects.”
Founder Treana Peake created the Obakki Foundation, and its expenses are funded through her clothing line of the same name. She is married to Ryan Peake of the Canadian rock band Nickelback.
The second draw for Tina is “they utilize the local resources and they utilize the local people to build the wells and to stimulate the schools. It’s done with a very sustainable concept. They get the community to understand how to fix their own problems,” Tina said.
Obakki dug a well for a community of women who had suffered devastating loss due to the Sudan war and had nothing.
“Now, they have water, so they can do their gardening and they can do vegetables and they can sell them,” Tina said. “It’s not just about giving people money, it’s giving people options to make their own ...”
“Life,” Grace added.
Tina knows people like seeing where their donations go and she understands.
“I help here locally, as well, but I do believe in the Foundation,” she said, adding, “Any and all support would be thoroughly appreciated.”
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]