It was a benefit for a mentoring organization that has become a big part of my life - The Fulfillment Fund. Shante Lewis, the young woman I mentored, and I were asked to speak before they hit up the really rich people there to donate the really big bucks right there on the spot.
They wanted us to tell the story of our relationship and the impact it had on Shante's journey from south-central LA to a Master's degree at Johns Hopkins University and a job as a therapist.
Shante and I spent hours writing and rehearsing a dialogue that condensed 14 years into 10 minutes. The night of the event we ended up sitting next to Kathy Griffin, who gave Shante some last-minute (and much-appreciated) advice.
There is a big lesson here. During my long career as a standup comic I had always hoped for the chance to perform in front of Hollywood's elite. And now I had finally gotten the opportunity to do just that, not because of what I do for a living, but because of what I did as a person -- my volunteer work. I was appreciated not just for my jokes or performance, but for the difference I made in another person's life. Wow.
As performers we spend most of our lives trying to get -- laughs, applause, the next gig. There is tremendous power in reversing that flow of energy and giving to another person or a cause without expecting or wanting anything in return. Sometimes it even makes dreams come true.
Here is an article about The Fulfillment Fund 2012 Stars Gala.
And here are more pictures of the event courtesy of Getty Images.
Tell me about your charity. I'd love to hear about them!