Dr. Frank Andolino became the executive director of Kageno (pronounced KA-GAY-NO) in a roundabout way. He always volunteered at various nonprofits from the Covenant House to the Special Olympics. After he founded his orthodontics practice in the early 90s, he became involved in Health Volunteers Overseas by participating in an orthodontics program in Vietnam.
"There's relative poverty and then there's absolute poverty," he realized. "I got to do what I was trained to do."
From then on, Andolino became a regular volunteer on these global missions, teaching dental hygiene to locals, going as far as Nepal through the organization Himalayan Healthcare. It wasn't until a friend told him about a youth-focused program in Tanzania that lacked a dental component. Andolino filled this need and afterward, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. On his way to the summit, he met a group of Peace Corps volunteers that would change his world and ours.
Rob Place told Andolino about a Kenyan community where 43 percent of the population was ravaged by HIV/AIDS. Shocked by the statistic, Andolino sent money strapped to the insides of books (so it wouldn't get stolen) to Kolunga Beach in Western Kenya, and every time he did, he would receive photographs illustrating what his donations became. Eventually Andolino became so involved that he asked Place what he would do at the end of his Peace Corps stint. Place shrugged his shoulders and said possibly go back to college and get his MBA. But Andolino had a better idea. He used his patient connections (Andolino caters to Manhattan's elite) and Place's grassroots experience to form Kageno, meaning "a place of hope."
"I've found that most people would like to do something but don't have an outlet," Andolino said. "Part of our model is to have volunteers go to work. We're not a charity. We give them a hand, not a handout."
On Sunday, Andolino did just that. He brought Africa to Manhattan's West Village and gave people an outlet to give back. Teaming up with Donna Karan (a member of Tonic's Board of Creators), Kageno sponsored a Day of Wellness in the fashion designer's Urban Zen space. For $125 each, more than 100 men and women gathered to hear lectures by Dr. Alejandro Junger and Dr. Robert Thurman as well as participate in a yoga session led by Jordan Mallah. Each headliner was brought together by Andolino.
At 10 a.m., the Day of Wellness began with an introduction by Urban Zen's Executive Director Joanne Heyman and Andolino. The pair introduced Junger, who took the floor and spoke of detoxification. Junger immigrated from Uruguay to practice medicine in the states. He served his internship at New York University medical center followed by a fellowship at Lenox Hill Hospital.