When Andrew Flores became co-president of the Smile Club at Valencia High School this year, he quickly sought to establish the mission of bringing smiles to the community and the world. His research led him to Rocky Turner, co-founder of Mothers Fighting for Others, a Santa Clarita-based nonprofit providing education for children in Kenya.
“He’s like the mastermind behind all of this,” said Smile Club co-president Gracie Rusk. “I think it is such a great opportunity, not only for Smile Club in the community in Santa Clarita, but also for the girls in Kenya.”
Flores took it upon himself to contact other clubs including Valencia High Dance, the Valencia High and Saugus High Improv Club, and other talented students to perform songs, dance and comedy in an effort to raise money and awareness for MFFO. Tickets and refreshments were sold at the Thursday night event, proceeds benefitting the cause.
“As the new Smile Club presidents, our mission is to help the community, serve local charities, and just try to make the world a better place,” said Flores. “It was really touching to know that I could help a little kid out there in Kenya,” he said.
MFFO co-founder Rocky Turner, has travelled to Kenya alone to implement the learning process and raising thousands of dollars for the education of more than 40 students, a dangerous undertaking escalated by recent tensions in the country. Fundraising has been successful in the past, but now SCV teens are causing an outbreak of smiles for the Kenya kids.
“I’m amazed that you put all of your talents together, from singing to dancing just to make people laugh,” said Turner to the Smile Club presidents during the event.
The student driven arts in education event not only brings smiles to kids in Kenya, but also encourages local students and residents to be kind to one another.
“It’s so important to just be nice to people. It’s such a simple thing and it’s so small but kindness goes a long way,” says improv performer, Gabriella Shaffer.
The Smile Club raised over $800 for the cause.
“I’m not part of a big organization but I feel really humbled that I can do something that I enjoy to really help others,” said vocalist-guitarist and improv actor Edward Kim.
More smiles to come?
“I 100-percent believe in using your talents to move forward and help the world. So I definitely believe I’ll do this in the future and I’ll continue to help whomever I can help,” said improv performer Olivia McAtee.