Vail Valley: Artists paints to feed Nigerians |

Vail Valley: Artists paints to feed Nigerians

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Go Nigeria’s executive director, Rick Whittlesey – who will be in Colorado’s Vail Valley on Friday – creates and sells his own abstract art to help support himself so he can do full-time work for orphans, widows, lepers, the lame and blind people of Nigeria.-

Go Nigeria helps support 20 Care Centers that provide over 500,000 meals annually to thousands of needy kids and adults in the west African nation of 150 million people, where the unemployment rate is 65 percent and most working people earn only $2 per day.-

Whittlesey will be at the Dann Coffey Photography Studio, in the Diamond Building, C-106 in Riverwalk in Edwards from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Without any formal training, Whittlesey began painting about six years ago. As a former investment executive and teacher with masters degrees in history, theology and business, Whittlesey spent three months in Jos, Nigeria during 2008, serving as a missionary to some of Nigeria’s most challenged people groups.-

He returned to the U.S. later that year to lead Go Nigeria in order to build awareness and support of the immense needs in Nigeria. Part of the challenge he faces as he works to raise funds for meals for orphans and send them to school is to provide for his own living expenses – in order that he can continue to do the work that has resulted in over $300,000 being sent to Nigeria.

“Obviously, it’s a very challenging economic environment in which to raise funds, but I feel truly fortunate to have the chance to do something so meaningful,” Whittlesey says. “Still, there are days when I feel like I am just plain nuts to try to do this, but all the other days I feel like the luckiest man in the world to have such a cool job, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“When someone buys a painting, it directly impacts the lives of our orphans because it allows me to keep working full-time their behalf,” he says.

Whittlesey says donors can feed an orphan a bowl of rice that keeps them from starving for only 10 cents per meal. That means a $10 gift provides 100 meals and a $100 gift buys 1,000 meals. For only $150, a kid can be sent to school for an entire year, he adds.

“As a matter of Go Nigeria’s policy, 90 percent of all designated gifts go straight to the field,” he says. “This is another reason I try to sell my art. The art really helps bridge gaps with people in this U.S. and more importantly, helps people learn about our work in Nigeria and the impact it’s having upon thousands of lives there.”

For more information, visit or

What: Go Nigeria director and artist Rick Whittlesey

Where: Dann Coffey Photography Studio, Edwards

When: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday

More information:,

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