Friday, December 18, 2009

Hope for the Holidays

Last night, a group of incredibly talented artists donated their time to participate in a fundraiser I put together for DeLaSalle Education Center.

I named the event Hope for the Holidays because that was really what it was supposed to be about, not the amount of money raised, which was nice enough to be a special surprise to some unsuspecting staff members, or the size of the audience, who though small was quite enthusiastic!

I just wanted to do something nice.

"Nice" The Midwest really has the market cornered on "Nice".

About a year and a half ago I moved to Kansas City. I had been traveling around for the better part of a year, without zip code, without direction. When I wound up back in the Midwest, I was shocked to find a city where people say hi to you on the street, where people offer assistance without agenda, where the faces of strangers were filled with kindness rather than cynicism.

Still I was lost. In October of 2007, I began working for DeLaSalle Education Center, near 39th and Troost. After several years in the movie business, working for a non-profit was an adjustment. Still there are days when I find the culture of fundraising challenging, but almost instantly, however, I fell in love with our student, even from my cozy corner in the Development Department.

I worry about the students and the staff that works so hard to help them, particularly this year, in light of so many issues that have made the environment on the streets and in the lives of our young people even more tenuous.

I wanted to do something nice. I get these itches from time to time and I just have to do something, create something, more because it makes me feel like I have contributed to the world than out of true altruistic motives.

And I had recently met a couple of guys who wanted to give back too. The gallery owner offered us space and assistance, a unique take on the world and a few good laughs, and a dare-I-say unique Sangria recipe.

With one short facebook blast I was, with little effort, able to persuade some great local talent to perform. And they were amazing. And the stuck around until the very end, supporting each other and supporting me and DeLaSalle.

Despite what I got out of it, it wasn't supposed to be about me. I always feel a little weird promoting myself at shows I produce and so I wasn't going to perform but my aunt and uncle were running late and so I went on.

See, my cousin came up from Columbia to perform with a friend of his. He always plays music at our family functions and he is really, really talented. He had never performed for an audience before but for some reason when I asked him at Thanksgiving if he wanted to play in the show he said yes right away.

It was the best part of the whole night and I couldn't let my aunt and uncle miss it. He looked a little nervous but he did a fantastic job. A natural – a state I have had to spend the better part of my life trying to get to.

A recorded the whole thing and made CDs for him and his buddy. I hope they will continue performing.

I get these itches every now and again, feelings like I have to make something happen. I never know the why or when but the results are always amazing, even when they are collosall failures.

In one night I got to support my students and my colleagues, enjoy some amazing art and music, and watch someone that I have always believed in share his talent with a little bit bigger piece of the world than who had known it before.

It was a great night. And now I need a nap.

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