Food for the Soul
By Mina Liccione
A few months ago one of my mentors passed away. His name was Dwayne Calizo. He sang like an angel and had a selfless heart of gold. I first met him the day I applied for my Master’s degree program in San Francisco. I felt a bit uncertain walking into the building that day, questioning if it was the right school for me. Then, he just appeared with a huge grin, a sparkle in his eye and a warm hand shake. I instantly knew that someone very special and important to my journey was standing before me so I followed my improv’ training and said “yes, and!”
Without having him as a teacher, guide and mentor I most likely wouldn’t have gotten through those challenging years. He ended up co-directing my first solo show Della Pancia and helped me walk through my fear of singing… an emotional ballad… alone… while portraying a very dramatic role that also required me to cry on stage for the first time! He got me there.
After graduating I continued to work with him on other projects and our friendship continued to grow. One of the shows he produced was called Sunday’s Best. He would invite a number of Bay Area performers to take the stage and the audience could either pay for a ticket or bring 10 bagged lunches. Following the show the performers and audience would hand out the lunches to homeless men and women and then deliver the money to a charity organization/shelter as an anonymous donation.
I remember him asking me if I would host a few of these shows. I trusted and believed in his vision and of course accepted. He gave his whole heart to every performance, every student, every friend and every cause he believed in. A true practitioner of art for a cause.
Upon moving to Dubai I founded the Clowns Who Care Project after having deeply rooted seeds planted from Jeff Raz (SFCC Director), Paoli Lacy (Clown Therapist), Big Apple Circus Hospital Care program, my father’s passion for charity that he instilled in his children and Dwayne.
To honor Dwayne, I humbly dedicated a recent Dance Concert that I directed to him. The concert ran two nights in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. One of the pieces, entitled Scars (ant-bullying dance for hope), was the one I knew he’d love the most. Why? Because the central topics were racism and bullying sparked by the Chapel Hill shootings and the raise in suicide rates in youth due to bullying. Dwayne always supported the outsiders, the hurt souls, the ones needing to develop… a voice.
To continue his love for charity and giving back, I also wanted to do something special for him this Ramadan. For those who may not know what Ramadan is, it’s a holy month observed by Muslims through fasting, prayer, charity, kindness and reflection.
Ramadan is always a beautiful time of giving and many people of lesser means across the world are fed a daily donated iftar. Iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims after breaking their fast at sunset during Ramadan.
In an effort to keep Ramadan’s intentions going in coming months we are collecting non-perishable food items to distribute to labor camps. I know Dwayne would love this.
+ Rice bags
+ Cooking oil/vegetable oil
+ Bombay Mix
+ Soda: cans of Coke, Pepsi, Mirinda, 7Up
+ Indian or Pakistani pickles
+ Juice boxes
+ Chips: Box of individually wrapped bags
+ Dried pulses: chick peas, dal, beans etc.
+ Mixed nuts/peanuts
+ Powdered Milk
+ Spices: turmeric, chili, black pepper, curry, salt, cardamom, cloves etc.
+ Additional non-perishable items such as canned food, noodles, soups…
For those in the UAE wishing to take part in the food drive, items can be dropped off at 1 Lake Plaza – Office1407, Cluster T in Jumeriah Lake Towers Sunday, July 12 – Thursday, July 17 from 12:00 pm- 5:30 pm. For evening timings please email us at LOL@Dubomedy.com.
May you rest in peace Dwayne. Thank you for the inspiration and believing in me even when I didn’t.