Caileigh (pictured above in our Merino-Light Grey/White mantle) is a Wild Mantle friend, model, actress, writer, sketch comedienne, and philanthropist—wow! Please read her story below, and meet an inspiring woman who takes up the mantle to help her community.
In the entertainment industry, when your job is to breathe life into fantasies, it is often easy to get caught up in things that aren't real. I have always used philanthropy and political activism as a way to stay grounded, to stay real, and to stay connected to and engaged with the world around me. The motto of my theatre fraternity, Alpha Psi Omega, is "seek a life useful." I carry that mantle with me as I navigate things both professional and personal.
After many years of volunteering, at age 24 I decided I could be more useful and, along with a few like-minded industry friends, co-founded the Los Angeles-based charity IBG Inc, which we ran from 2008 - 2014. IBG stood for Inspire, Believe, and Give. Our organization promoted philanthropy through the arts, helping to connect high profile celebrities to underfunded causes and micro-charities domestic and abroad. We hosted fan events that would both raise the smaller charity's profile and raise much-needed funds for their day to day operations. Our most successful event, featuring a reunion between X-Files stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in 2011, raised well over $100,000 for SA-YES, a charity based in South Africa that provides education and life skills to the nation's underserved foster children.
Currently one of the other IBG co-founders and I are in the process of establishing a new organization focused on helping to lift women and girls in underserved communities in New York City and Los Angeles out of poverty. The idea was sparked as we discussed the work I was doing last summer, teaching theatre through a Children's Aid Society program in the Bronx. I had a class of bright, thoughtful, and compassionate 10 year old girls who spoke eloquently on the topic of social justice and created a moving piece of theatre. Together my colleague and I were inspired by those girls to help them, and others like them, reach and utilize their incredible potential in society.
It is my experience that we all have something to offer, we all have causes we are passionate about, and if we don't have money to give we can all carve out a bit of time to help others. I'm actively involved in several charities right now, including Broadway Serves, an affiliate of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which brings New York's thriving theatre community volunteer opportunities. We have helped restore homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, served at soup kitchens, brought food to those living with AIDS and other illnesses, brightened the afternoon with song and dance at children's hospitals, and so much more.
There are two quotes that may seem cliche, but that I think of often, especially when an early call time the next morning has me hesitating going to the soup kitchen, or I have a tinge of nervousness when bringing theatre to an inner city public school:
"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." - Audrey Hepburn
"Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can." - Hillary Clinton
My mantle is to seek a life useful, and my way of doing so is to go beyond creating good art that may help shape society as a whole, but to be as active as possible in changing even one person's life for the better today.Thank you for sharing your story with us Caileigh, and for everything you do. We are so inspired by you!