In recent years, the general public has been evolving -- slowly but surely -- into a more ethically conscious community. Organic produce, hormone-free meat and cosmetics not tested on animals are gradually becoming more popular. Organizations raise millions of dollars for aid to disaster-stricken places, disease research and attempts to end world poverty. Businesses are learning, too. Social ventures seem to be skipping into the fray, providing services while attempting to make a positive impact in the world.
Enter Party Well.
Party Well is a rapidly growing student-run club sponsored by the Commerce Undergraduate Society. In a short amount of time, they've managed to put together a team of about 50 students, all committed to making their plans a reality.
Party Well hopes to raise funds for water projects in developing countries while throwing unforgettable parties. The group is a subsidiary of Free The Children and 90 per cent of proceeds from their first event, ‘FutureFest,’ will go to building wells in Kipsongol, Kenya. Though they realize that it's unlikely that they'll single-handedly solve global water crises and end poverty, Party Well works toward, as co-founder and UBC student James Cohen put it, “making the cup half-full."
“We don’t think we can actually solve the water crises -- because that’s very unrealistic -- but we believe we can play our part and maybe even go above and beyond and contribute to a future that we would like to live in,” Cohen said.
Cohen is a Sauder student hoping to major in entrepreneurship and marketing. He lived for seven years in Tokyo, Japan where he first got his hands on fundraising when the development agency Hope International came to his school. He ended up raising 900 dollars for the project and then travelled to Cambodia, where he helped build classrooms.
Last summer, Cohen took another step forward and travelled to Kenya, where he got to see the water projects at Kipsongol in person. While there, he helped a family bring water into the town. Through this trip, he found himself inspired for the future.
“I got to engage with a lot of different people and that’s what’s really inspired me to work really hard to make this event as big as it possibly can be and make as big of a difference as we possibly can with this," said Cohen.
Cohen’s roommate and Party Well co-founder, Joseph Luiz is a third-year finance student in Sauder. Born and raised in the UK, he spent his teenage years in Tokyo, Japan where he met Cohen at their all-boys Catholic school.
Several years later, as Cohen was walking back to Place Vanier residence in his first year, he thought he spotted a familiar face.
“I just bumped into him and I was like ‘Joe Luis?’, and he was like, 'James Cohen?' It was fantastic,” said Cohen.
Luiz had been skiing up at Whistler last year when Cohen called him and excitedly told him about his new idea. He told his roommate he would hear all about it when he got back. Three days later, when he was back, he found Cohen already obsessing about this idea.
“I saw James and he was energized. [He said,] yo, we’re going to do something that is going to make a difference.” From there, when Luiz decided to get involved, Party Well was born.
Even though their event has not launched yet, the two are completely confident in its potential success. Both agree that the entirety of this project relies greatly on its volunteers and they believe that this could be their greatest strength. According to Cohen, all of their members as well as the DJs for their event are volunteers.
“When I talk to people about this, a lot of them don’t just say that ‘I’ll come to your event,' a lot of them say, ‘how can I help?'” said Cohen. “It’s what really allowed us to grow really quickly.”
As the date of their premier launch event FutureFest, a futuristic themed party, approaches, Cohen and Luiz feel like they could be a jigsaw piece in the water crises, and they hope to do so while doing what they love: partying. As Cohen said "it is possible to have a really great time with close friends and at the same time actually make a difference.”