Anna Pancheshnikov loves salsa dancing but she wanted to organize a salsa party with a social purpose.
Pancheshnikov decided to use the proceeds of a concert to raise money for the nonprofit organization Yspaniola. Yspaniola provides financial support for students from the rural region of Batey Libertad, which is in the Dominican Republic near its border with Haiti, she said.
"It started with people at Yale. They began going to Batey, noting a large need for education because most of the kids are unable to go to university" for reasons of geography, economics and documentation, Pancheshnikov said in a phone interview from Boston.
"Some people in Batey are of Haitian descent and they couldn't provide an ID, not even a birth certificate," she said.
A former Albuquerque resident, she learned about Yspaniola when she was in a town in the Dominican Republic on a Fulbright Research Fellowship to study prevention of motherto-child HIV transmission. The town was near Batey Libertad.
She met Jonathan DiMaio, executive director of Yspaniola, who told her about the organization, said Pancheshnikov, a student at Harvard Medical School.
What Pancheshnikov learned led to her wanting to help. Since then, she has helped screen the first application round for its university scholarship program. Through that program, funds are provided for such needs as tuition, housing and tutoring.
Now Pancheshnikov is on its board, assisting in reading student essays and doing interviews with applicants.
The salsa concert she organized is Saturday, Jan. 5 at The Cooperage. Titled "Salsa for Education," it features Cesar Bauvallet y Tradiciones.
She chose to have the fundraising concert in the Duke City "because to me Albuquerque is a warmer community (than Boston). I have so many friends here. I am part of the salsa community and the Albuquerque salsa community has never done anything like this before," Pancheshnikov said.
Cesar Bauvallet y Tradiciones
WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5
WHERE: The Cooperage, 7220 Lomas NE
HOW MUCH: $10 minimum donation. Proceeds of ticket sales benefit Yspaniola ___