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Teen Organizer Uses Gifts, Contacts to Aid Needy

By Kimberly Chou , Wall Street Journal

1582 days ago   Article ID# 845932
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AmeriCares

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (Wall Street Journal) - Two years ago, instead of accepting gifts at her "Sweet 16" birthday party, Angelica Salem asked friends to donate money to a nonprofit organization she and her family started. Dubbed Voice of an Angel—a play on the founder's nickname—the charity aims to help underprivileged families where Angelica, a senior at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, Conn., grew up.

Voice of an Angel, said Angelica, is about "being able to give kids the opportunities that I've been given." Since its inception, the organization has raised a little over $100,000 toward medical bills, tuition and gifts to organizations such as AmeriCares and, most recently, Stamford Hospital's Bennett Cancer Center.

Earlier this month, a Palace Theatre benefit including performances by Angelica and hip-hop and R&B artists like Flo Rida, Jadakiss and Sean Kingston raised $50,000 for Bennett Cancer Center. Tickets for the show sold for $100 and $200 each.

Angelica and Voice of an Angel presented the check to the hospital on Tuesday. The donation will be used for philanthropy-funded services offered free to patients. The services include a post-treatment exercise program and oncology counseling.

Elizabeth Manfredo, director of the Bennett Center's Cancer Service Line, said "50,000 is a pretty significant donation from an event. We were both surprised and excited about the scope of the event."

How did Angelica snag such headliners for the concert? Through producers for her coming pop album—to be released on her own label, AMS Entertainment—the teen connected with rappers like Jadakiss and Lil' Kim. "I had a couple of the artists on my album," Angelica said, "and as people started hearing about [Voice of an Angel] wanting to do a larger fund-raiser, everyone loved the idea. Everything went from there."

The benefit was the largest event that the charity has held, and the most money it has raised at one time. Previously Voice of an Angel has arranged smaller fund-raisers and generated donations from friends and family.

Raising money to help cancer patients is also a cause with significance for Angelica. A close family friend was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago, and initially was receiving treatment at Stamford Hospital. "We figured that since he's still an inspiration for all of us, the first major fund-raiser that we do would be for Bennett," Angelica said.

She says she'd like Voice of an Angel to gain a national—and eventually, an international—presence. Besides the charity, Angelica stays busy with singing, dance and school. "It's definitely hard being a senior—I came out of the show and went straight into midterms."

Copyright 2015 Wall Street Journal   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 1582 days ago   Article ID# 845932

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