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8294: Arias and art combine at fundraiser (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Arias and art combine at fundraiser

Sure, there were art, drinks and plenty of food. But nothing compared to the 
night's main attraction, opera singer Kim Sylvain.

At the Haitian American Foundation's Soirée Tropicale, all entertainment 
took a back seat to Sylvain's presentation.

The reception on the second floor of the Hotel Inter-Continental in downtown 
Miami was the first community event to raise funds for the organization's 
counseling and job referral program. The institution helps Haitian 
immigrants find jobs in the area.

``The Haitian community has a really high rate of unemployment in Dade 
County,'' said Leonie Hermantin, the group's executive director.

Hermantin said the group hopes to raise $50,000 that would go directly to 
organizing more job fairs and hiring another manager for the program.

At the event Friday night, guests talked and shared drinks while waiting for 
Sylvain to take the stage. Some perused an exposition of 27 paintings by 
Haitian artists and bid at the silent auction. Others, like Myrtho Vastey, 
preferred to snag a front-row seat for Sylvain's performance.

Vastey said, though,the cause itself was her main reason for attending.

``Haitian people need some help to integrate into the American community so 
that they can fully grow,'' Vastey said.

Jean Robert Menard, who started working at the Haitian American Foundation 
earlier this week, said he believes there could be more done for Haitians in 

``I know there are limited resources for the Haitian community,'' he said. 
``And also, there is a lack of knowledge that the Haitian community has on 
its resources.''

Plenty of people there had heard of Sylvain, though. Opening with an aria 
from Bizet's Carmen, Sylvain enthralled the audience, which gave her a loud 
ovation as she finished.

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