Thursday, January 22, 2009

Praise for the People's Inaugural Project

Earl Stafford, Virginia businessman, Air Force veteran and 60-year-old founder of Universal Systems and Technology decided to give a front row seat to the disadvantaged when it came to attending the People's Inaugural Ball.

He wanted "to bring in a cross-section of society - those who are distressed, those who are terminally ill, those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, those veterans who are wounded and served our country.”

His family's nonprofit organization, the Stafford Foundation, reached out to hospitals, homeless shelters, some of the other social agencies in 22 states.

They not only facilitated attendance at the ball and other events, but also provided gowns, tuxes, beautician makeovers and accessories, such as earrings and necklaces.

The People's Inaugural Project took place on Jan. 18, 19 and 20, with lodging provided all three nights.

Stafford's investment included over 335 rooms in the J.W. Marriot, $200,000 worth of food and drink and a heated tent on the hotel roof to watch the parade down on Pennsylvania Avenue.

During those three days, Stafford hosted four events: a prayer breakfast, a luncheon, during which Martin Luther King III spoke, an Inaugural Ball for youth, and an Inaugural Ball for youth

Over 1,000 people participated - and at each event at least one-third of attendees came from disadvantaged backgrounds. The rest were business leaders, community leaders, celebrities and politicians invited by Stafford.

Stafford's goal was to bring together people from all strata of society: "We want those with millions in the bank interacting and worshipping and celebrating with those who only have pennies in their pockets."

During the NPR broadcast, participants who came from backgrounds of poverty appreciated both the experience - and the anonymity that was provided along with lovely gowns and professional makeovers.

For those three days, the playing field was level and stigmas and stereotypes were left behind.

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I am impressed; this is great:) What a great gesture:)

This sounds like an amazing project
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