Tuesday, October 13 , 2015, 2:42 am | Fair 76º

‘In Shape, Inspired, In Service’: World Dance for Humanity Marks 4 Years

By Janet Reineck for World Dance for Humanity |

During the past four years, Santa Barbara-based World Dance for Humanity has evolved from a weekly exercise/dance class with a few devoted members to a thriving community of hundreds of dancers and supporters in Santa Barbara and beyond.

The model is unusual — and impactful. Participants dance to release, refresh, stay in shape, connect with the world and change lives. Supporters include dancers and nondancers worldwide who are interested in helping communities in need through small, grassroots, sustainable aid projects.

In 2013, it raised $108,925 through class fees, general donations and Thriller. With this, World Dance was able to make donations totaling $57,460 for livestock and school sponsorships to the 14 communities that the organization is serving in Rwanda and to secure $18,079 for 2014 projects.

Each year it also supports a local charity to help people in need in Santa Barbara through class contributions, donations, “Soulbiscuit” dance parties, and Thriller — an annual gathering of 200-plus of dancers to perform the iconic dance at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens as part of a worldwide event.

Last spring, World Dance was among the first groups to respond to the plight of the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics by donating $5,000 to help get their fundraising efforts off the ground. They involved the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria Boys & Girls Clubs in Thriller and were able to contribute $3,560 to their scholarship funds. They also reached directly into the community, bringing moments of joy and caring to homeless, retired and disabled communities during their Holiday Dance Outreach.

During the past four years, the nonprofit organization has brought assistance to Guatemala, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Liberia. In 2013, it turned its international focus to Rwanda and inherited the projects begun by Goats for Life, a local nonprofit that had been doing life-saving work in Rwanda for six years. GFL Founder Betsy Kain was ready to retire, and asked to World Dance to carry on her legacy.

For $45, WD4H can provide a goat that will sustain a family. The goats produce manure that greatly increases crop yield and the goat gives birth to four kids a year that can be sold for cash that is used to pay for food, school, and healthcare. World Dance is also donating milk goats that can be bred with the local, non-milk producing goats to create future generations of milk goats that will help sustain the communities. For $1,000, they can donate a full grown, pregnant cow that provides milk and fertilizer to support a whole community.

World Dance for Humanity donated a total of $57,460 for livestock and school sponsorships to the 14 communities they are serving in Rwanda, providing:

» 118 student sponsorships — primary, secondary and college
» Business training for six Kigali coops
» 20 goats for Abakundana Cooperative (Twa — pygmies in the Southwest)
» 20 goats for Twirererabana (unwed mothers in the north)
» 24 goats for Tubehotwese (poor farmers in the northeast)
» 25 goats for Icerechezo (poor farmers in the east)
» 40 goats for Abadacogora (widows and orphans in the Kigali area)
» 44 goats for Never Again Group No. 6
» 53 goats for new members of Tubehotwese
» 1 goat shed for Abadacogora (widows and orphans in the Kigali area)
» 2 milk goats for Joy Cooperative (women genocide survivors in Kigali area)
» 1 milk goat for Their Tomorrow Cooperative (orphans in the Kigali area)
» 110 solar lights for our cooperatives
» 45 mattresses for the Twa
» 2 cows for Never Again Fellowship (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa)
» 1 cow for Abishyizehamwe (united people)

In 2013, World Dance also secured $18,079 for its 2014 work in Rwanda, to include:

» Following the progress of 118 primary, secondary and college students we are supporting
» Providing livestock to the communities its serves so that each family has a source of income
» Offering business and agriculture training to the cooperatives
» Helping each cooperative establish a business that sustains them as a group and provides meaningful work and a vision and focus for the members

The mission of World Dance for Humanity is to bridge cultures through movement and to help people in need by supporting small, sustainable, grassroots projects locally and in the developing world. All charitable donations and class fees go to underserved communities where a small amount of money can inspire hope, change lives and deep connections can be developed to the people it serves. World Dance is an all-volunteer organization.

Click here to learn more about the local class schedule and its humanitarian aid work. Contact executive director and dance instructor Janet Reineck, Ph.D., at 805.966.5439 or [email protected].

— Janet Reineck is the executive director and a dance instructor for World Dance for Humanity.

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