Supporting Karam Foundation

By Nora Shepard

Chelsea Handler speaking at the event.

Last week, we had the honor of attending a lunch with Chelsea Handler to support to Karam Foundation, and thought it would be a nice break from all the overwhelming Comey news to talk a worthwhile cause and a celebrity’s generosity.

Karam Foundation helps Syrian refugees live a better life with the cards they were dealt. Their mission statement reads, “We are dedicated to providing aid that matters and finding the most effective and impactful ways to help the Syrian people.” They were founded in 2007 in Chicago as a small nonprofit with big dreams (don’t all the best ones?). Lina Sergie Attar is the co-founder and CEO of this organization. She is Syrian-American and was inspired to help those in Syria who couldn’t get the resources they needed to thrive. This was back in 2007, before the war in Syria had began. Karam Foundation was spurred from a genuine desire to do good in the world and help Syrians who were otherwise forgotten.

Watching the tragedies that have fallen over Syria the past several years hasn’t exactly been easy for anybody, but it’s felt personal to those supporting Karam Foundation. Watching the very people you’re trying to help get attacked must be a unique kind of helplessness. But the Karam Foundation trudged along; they were actually working out of Attar’s basement until about six months ago, using the limited resources they had to help in any way that they could.

What the organization lives by. Give without expectations, because we are able to.

Chelsea Handler heard about the Karam Foundation and offered her assistance — both financially and for garnering attention and support. She said at the event that when she heard about the organization she wanted to help but didn’t know how — joking at the event that she asked, “Can I buy a family? How do I buy a family?” Handler is a trailblazing activist and comedian, and as soon as she heard about what the foundation was doing, she knew she had to get involved. She’s donated thousands of dollars to the foundation and helped countless families. She flew to Chicago just to headline this event and support the Karam Foundation, participating in both an intimate dinner on Thursday night and then a fireside chat luncheon on Friday afternoon. We attended the Friday afternoon lunch, and it was a true pleasure to learn more about the Karam Foundation and to hear Chelsea speak about her experiences. She brought her wit and humor, making a serious subject a little more light-hearted, and it’s refreshing to see a celebrity using their platform to stick up for what they genuinely believe in.

The Karam Foundation has come a long way and helped a lot of people since its inception in 2007. They have several programs now that all strive to achieve what they call “smart aid.” That is to say, they want to make sure the money you donate goes toward radically improving a Syrian refugee’s life in the long term. That can come in the form of a car or an education — but the programs they sponsor change refugees’ lives in the long-term. They are intentional with both their money and words, never guaranteeing something they won’t be able to follow through on. They are also entirely transparent about where the money goes and how your money will directly impact a Syrian refugee in need.

It was a true pleasure to attend this event. When the news cycle feels overwhelming, it’s important to step back and realize how many people are doing so much good in the world. It’s a beautiful thing to witness when a good cause marries comedy. With Chelsea’s support, the Karam Foundation has gained incredible momentum, and we can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Learn more about the Karam Foundation here. Nora Shepard is the content manager at NewFounders, a coalition of leaders seeking to use innonvation to reconnect people and politics.