BY RODNEY D. GANTT
From feeding the homeless to outfitting young girls for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the When In Need Foundation works its ongoing mission to provide educational assistance and basic resources to individuals and communities around the world, including Queens.
The WIN Foundation is a global non-profit organization that provides grants to those less fortunate students and young professionals in the United States to further their education and other career opportunities, in addition to helping impoverished communities the world over.
“Quite frankly we are a foundation and we help children and families in need,” said George Onuorah, media director for the WIN Foundation. “We support schools, orphanages, homeless shelters and people with disabilities, not only in the United States but throughout the world.”
The organization recently held a prom dress giveaway on May 26, at the State University of New York’s Equal Opportunity Center in Jamaica, following a prior giveaway at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. The idea for the giveaway came from the daughter of President and CEO, Chetachi Ecton who insisted she have such an event, when she remembered how difficult it was for her mother to provide her with a prom dress, according to Onuorah.
Using her own money, Ecton bought nearly 200 prom dresses in a range of colors, sizes and styles and approximately 60 teens arrived for the giveaway. The organization partnered with state Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village) who helped publicize the event.
“It was a great joy to see these beautiful young women look even more beautiful in their new dresses,” said Sanders, according to a press release.
Sanders wished the young women an exciting and safe prom and thanked the WIN Foundation for providing the dresses. Onuorah thanked the local non-profit group 100 Suits for donating makeup for the giveaway.
As the father of a 17 year old girl, Onuorah said he understands the value of going to prom.
“Prom is like a right of passage for young women, so every young woman and even young men like to attend their prom,” said Onuorah. “Prom is like the beginning of a journey they have to take in life. It can even provide an incentive to go to college, having gone through that right of passage.”
Like the giveaway Onuorah said the organization is solely funded by Ecton, which he said is “one of the most unique aspects of the WIN Foundation.” He praised Ecton for her hard work and charitable nature.
“From a very young age she was someone who is motivated to help people in need,” said Onuorah. “We like to say she is inspired by the work of Mother Teresa, any kind of support she is able to give she does it.”
The foundation has held events in other parts of Queens in the past including two community outreach events in Corona. Each was a day of humanitarian action where they donated supplies, provided food and had clowns and other fun activities for kids and members of the community, said Onuorah. The group also held a Thanksgiving event at the Rock Church in Elmhurst and donated turkeys and provided free meals for nearly 500 people.
Through the You Can Go To College Committee, a group that helps to encourage and prepare students for college Ecton provided six students from Queens with scholarships, according to Onuorah.
Aside from its work locally and across the U.S., the WIN Foundation works on a global scale to provide resources like food and water to areas in need around the world, including parts of Africa and South America. The group has also visited other schools, orphanages and homeless shelters and helped disabled and abused children in London, Paris, Argentina, Uruguay and Milan, and donated food and other supplies.
“Wherever the need is that’s where you will find us, we won’t hesitate to help,” said Onuorah.