Fund raiser

Giving the Gift of Hope with Jaiden Z. Smith

Divorce is difficult under any circumstances, but even more so when children are involved. The parents are most likely struggling with their own emotions and trying to adjust to the many changes, which may leave them feeling unequipped to help their children understand and cope with the emotional challenges of their new reality. Divorce can leave a child feeling lost, guilty, angry, confused – a whole range of negative emotions that could considerably impact their life going forward, if they are not addressed.

photo 2With the heart of a lioness, or maybe its cub, 10 year old Jaiden Z. Smith has set her sights on making a difference for children who are experiencing the divorce of their parents. In 2008, her parents separated, which produced feelings of confusion, hurt, and concern within Jaiden. The honor roll student began to struggle at school, appearing to be withdrawn and sad. Her teachers took note and before long Jaiden and her brother were participating in a guidance group at their public school for children experiencing separation and divorce. Over the course of nine weeks, Jaiden collected the tools necessary to help her cope with her situation and began planting seeds as she adjusted to her new family life. In journaling her experience, Jaiden decided to write her first book. And she did!!! Inspired by her personal journey, Jaiden worked for nearly a year to write “A Perfect Kind of Different”, which is the story of a family going through a divorce from a child’s perspective. Very proud of her accomplishments, Jaiden is continually motivated by helping other children who are experiencing the aftermath of divorce by sharing her story.

Here she is in her own words:

My name is Jaiden and I am 10 years old. My Mom and Dad got a divorce when I was 8 years old. It was a hard time for me and my two brothers. We went to guidance groups at our school for kids dealing with the same situation. While I was in guidance group, I met lots of other sad kids. I decided to write a book to help kids understand divorce. I plan to donate a copy of my book to all the elementary schools in my district so the guidance counselors will have something to share with the sad kids that will help them see divorce is just a ‘Perfect Kind of Different‘. You can still have a good life after a divorce with love and family time. After this book, I will write more books that will help kids understand grown up things like different religions, bullying, and hunger. I want to be a writer and a teacher when I grow up.

Here is a note from her Mother who wants to help her spread her important message:

I honestly did not realize the massive effect divorce has on children. It was a difficult subject to talk about in our home (initially). Fortunately, we were in a wonderful public school that offered services to children dealing with family separation and divorce. Due the alarming number of divorcing families, our school offered a guidance group where my children learned all of the coping skills moms and dads did not know how to teach. In our quest to find children’s books on the topic, we became discouraged and dissatisfied.

Upon completing the 9-week counselor guided peer group in school, Jaiden decided she wanted to write a book about divorce. A sensitive topic for a newly divorced mom, I didn’t immediately encourage her, but she was determined to share her story. In the evenings, Jaiden would tap away on the computer writing a book in PowerPoint. I noticed as time went on that she got more focused on her writing, even opting to drop her dance class to have more time to write. I knew as her Mom, it was my job to fuel that passion. Once she felt her masterpiece was complete, I asked a former college professor to edit the book and she agreed to without hesitation. I hit Facebook in search of an illustrator and was blessed to find a local artist eager to take on the challenge. A local photographer, Aneris Photography, offered us a free photo shoot and captured Jaiden’s true essence to give us a head start in marketing.

photo 1With all the chips falling into place, we now turn to the community for help in taking the final steps to get Jaiden’s story into the hands of children of divorce who are hurting. It is Jaiden’s ultimate goal to share her book with every elementary school in her school district, followed by schools in surrounding districts (and across the country). She wants to visit other guidance groups and encourage children to be courageous while reminding them divorce is never their fault. Jaiden is VERY excited about the opportunity to do public book signings as well. We need the books published with hardback covers for durability as they will be passed from hand to hand in the schools. We desperately need your help to cover this expense. We can get 250 hardback books printed and shipped to us for $2,517.96. The additional funds donated will go towards marketing the book to ensure families know there is a resource available to them that will support them and provide understanding to children during such a difficult time. We will also need brochures, flyers, a banner, and books on CD (read by Jaiden) to give as gifts to children in immediate emotional pain. These CDs will be called “Don’t Cry, Just Listen”. Every dollar donated above our targeted goal will be used to increase the number of books we can purchase.

Children often listen and learn best from someone in their own peer group who has had similar experiences. Jaiden can offer a familiar perspective to hurting children who are looking for reassurance and hope. Please consider making a donation that will touch the lives of numerous children who are struggling emotionally and the lives of parents who are overwhelmed and hurting as well. All donations are greatly appreciated through  Be sure to follow her journey on The Blue Jai Project to find out the latest updates.

Photos compliments of Aneris Photography

Categories: Children, community, Divorce, education, families, family, Fund raiser, Library, Lowcountry, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pint of Hope Zombie Pub Crawl – An Apocolyptic Disaster in Park Circle

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The marketing plug was in place and the sponsors were ready:

“Warning. The quarantine was breached for a race against time. Join Holy City Brewing, Lowcountry AIDS Services (LAS) and the walking dead for a pub crawl like no other in Park Circle on Saturday, October 5th from 5-11 pm. The apocalyptic 3rd annual “Pint of Hope” Zombie Pub Crawl will feature discounted Holy City brews ordinarily unavailable to the public, live music by DJ Big Hair Dave, a costume contest & much more.

Dress like the undead and battle for a chance to win a private tasting for you and 9 of your favorite living corpses at Holy City Brewing.”

The only issue with the Pint of Hope Zombie Pub Crawl was that it was a modern day disaster in its execution. The event supported the Lowcountry Aids Foundation with sponsors and participating restaurants including:



  • Holy City Brewing (presenting sponsor)
  • Belk
  • Artist & Craftsman
  • Big Hair Productions
  • Gil Shuler Graphic Design
  • The Event Cooperative
  • Kask Creativity
  • Snyder Event Rentals
  • Vive le Rock Productions
  • Robust Energy Drink

Many came out to support the cause and bring out the inner “undead” but a number of things went dramatically wrong during the hours of 5 PM and 1 AM.

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What went wrong!!!

  • All restaurants were supposed to offer participants a different Holy City Beer option for $3.00.  Two restaurants charged $2.00, one charged $3.00, one $5.00 and two didn’t even clearly show a Holy City option.  In fact none of the 9 restaurants offered the Holy City option to the participants when then entered and sat down.  They just gave us menus and asked what we wanted.
  • I asked about the markers to identify stopping at each location and one restaurant manager said he didn’t even know what was going on until the day of the event.
  • One of the sponsors was Yelp who announced there would be a scavenger hunt along with the event.  Aside from some koozies, there was no other representation of Yelp and no scavenger hunt.  The only resemblance was that each team had to drink at all nine restaurants.
  • Times were not designated for each location so all individual teams signed in and went their own way.  The idea of a pub crawl is to migrate together, co-mingle and make new friends.  The lack of order made it almost impossible to follow others and branch outside of your individual team.  Getting people to Park Circle / North Charleston from outside the community is a challenge enough.  This did not make it easier.
  • Service at two of the restaurants was “poor” at best.  We even left after waiting seven plus minutes for a single beer.
  • After the event, the organizers were drawing winners from those that completed the crawl.  We never heard any announcement at DIG or a gathering place to hear who the winners were being announced.
  • The silent auction had limited participation and no clear directions on how you would be notified if you won.
  • Some people walked the streets with open alcohol including one with a bottle of Corona.  We were not sure if that was allowable at all and took a risk to carry open alcohol in the streets.
  • There was a best zombie contest scheduled for the end of the event.  We did not know when or where it occurred.  It may have been somewhere in DIG in the Park, but no signs or direction was provided.

Overall, there were some very creative, creepy and even a few eye turning costumes and make up applications.  For a Saturday night at Park Circle, there was a buzz in the air, but for an important fund raiser supporting a very worthy cause, the organization was a failure.

Categories: AIDS, Charleston, Fund raiser, Lowcountry, North Charleston, Park Circle, Pub Crawl, Zombie | 1 Comment

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