Comedy for a Cause raises funds for autism awareness

Photo by Chris Sykes Nassan's Place nonprofit autism awareness and family support services organization founder Nadine Wright-Arbubakrr, holding the microphone and seated center, is surrounded by comedian Talent, standing center, and his friends on Thursday, March 31, at the Comedy for a Cause autism awareness fundraiser at the Orange elks Lodge 135 on Main Street in Orange.
Photo by Chris Sykes
Nassan’s Place nonprofit autism awareness and family support services organization founder Nadine Wright-Arbubakrr, holding the microphone and seated center, is surrounded by comedian Talent, standing center, and his friends on Thursday, March 31, at the Comedy for a Cause autism awareness fundraiser at the Orange elks Lodge 135 on Main Street in Orange.

ORANGE/EAST ORANGE, NJ — Last week’s Comedy for a Cause fundraiser in support of Nassan’s Place was an unqualified success, thanks to comedian Talent & Friends, the members of Orange Elks Lodge 135 and all who came out to support the organization, founder Nadine Wright-Arbubakrr said on Thursday, March 31.

“We had an awesome night and a great turnout for the second annual Comedy for a Cause,” said Wright-Arbubakrr on Thursday, March 31. Nassan’s Place, based in East Orange, is a nonprofit with a mission to provide support services and resources for urban children and families affected by autism. The fundraiser was held March 31, at Orange Elks Lodge 135.

“I’m the proud mother of Nassan, an 11-year-old with autism. NBA-TV came out at the beginning of March and interviewed us right here in the city of East Orange, so we’re excited. My husband and I both interviewed. My stepson, Hassan Whiteside, plays for the Miami Heat and he talked about having a brother with autism and the impact and the challenges that he sees that we face and he wants to do something to help. And his way of helping us is to get the word out and let other people know that there is an organization that’s being run by his family, helping to make a difference in the lives of children and families affected by autism.”

“People want to help and we appreciate all the help that we can get, like my vice president of Nassan’s Place, Charnette Vida. … She sold 53 tickets in here tonight, so she brought out almost half the room. Every little bit counts.

“We are really, really grateful for all of the community partners that continue to house us in their homes, but it’s nothing like having your own. We don’t have our own facility. Our goal is to one day have our own building, so that we can have a gym, a sensory room, space for our families to feel comfortable and an actual place where they feel like they belong, because Nassan’s Place isn’t just for my son. Nassan’s Place is for all children and families affected by autism.”

She added, “If I had my way, I would go into every underserved community in the country and help build a blueprint, so that they could get the resources and the support that we have.”

Talent agreed with Wright-Arbubakrr and said he’s glad he has partnered with her to make the Comedy for a Cause fundraisers an ongoing reality.

“We had comedians galore; seven comedians with me hosting, with DJ Solo doing his thing,” said Talent on Thursday, March 31. “The food was awesome; drinks were on point; it was a complete environment and, at the end of the day, the … money goes to a great cause: autism. We’re alerting people. We’re giving information. We’re giving money to the cause. We’re fighting it head-on. It’s just that simple.”

Talent thanked the comedians who joined him for the fundraiser: Jojo Collins, John Phillips, Rudolph Valentino, Aldo, Baby Boy Hass and Ty Raney.

The event also featured a singing performance by Eric Harris, which Talent called “wonderful.”

Talent recalled first meeting Wright-Arbubakrr and bonding through their shared experience raising autistic children. He said he was moved by her idea of a nonprofit organization founded to help other urban families deal with parenting children diagnosed with autism, and immediately decided to do what he could to help her help others.

The comedian added that the timing of his meeting with Wright-Arbubakrr was fortuitous, since he had been searching for an organization such as Nassan’s Place. He said believes in spreading the word about autism awareness and educating the public about the learning and developmental challenges it poses to those diagnosed with it.

“She was a comedy lover,” Talent said of Wright-Arbubakrr. “She came to my show a few times, caught me at a show, just pitched it to me and, when she pitched it to me, it resonated and hit home with me, because my middle son is autistic,” he said.

Wright-Arbubakrr said she appreciates Talent and his friends donating their time to the cause of Nassan’s Place, and also thanked Susan Rhinehart and the members of Orange Elks Lodge 135 for donating the lodge to serve as a venue for the event and making a monetary donation.

But John Ryberger, the Exalted Ruler of Lodge 135, said not thanks were necessary. He said the lodge was glad to be able to help such worthy causes as Nassan’s Place.

“This is what we do,” said Ryberger on Friday, March 31. “We don’t put a penny into our own pockets. All the money we make, after our costs are taken care of, is donated to charities. We’re parents, brothers and sisters; we have problems, too, and we feel for people and we want to help whenever and wherever we can. We just wish that more people would reach out to us to partner with them, so that we can do even more good work in the community than we already do now.”

To learn more about Nassan’s Place, visit www.nassansplace.org.

COMMENTS