- 6 October 2005: Across America
FERC Give and Live Benefits USA
Concert Tour 2005
Raises One Million Baht for Thailand's Children!
As Hurricane Katrina
battered New Orleans, the FERC Give and Live Benefits USA Tour began a few
hundred miles away in Virginia. Seven concerts in six states during
August-October 2005 raised over a million baht for charitable projects
for less fortunate children here in northern Thailand. Silent auctions
of goods and services from local businesses and Thai imports plus sales
of CDs, Give and Live T-shirts, Karen silver, hill tribe bags and
handicrafts from the Children’s Garden orphanage made the project an
educational and financial success.
One million baht equals
$25,000 which goes a long way in Thailand.
funds raised by
FERC (Foundation for the
Education of Rural Children) will be used to purchase educational and
therapeutic equipment for kids with multi-disabilities at the Chiangmai
School for the Blind, to provide all living, lodging, educational and
medical expenses for a year for the 30 orphans at Children’s Garden near
Doi Saket, to buy 50 mattresses for dormitories, to give scholarships to
20-40 pre-approved children at vocational or governmental facilities and
to build at least two new schools at locations to be announced.
Six states and seven cities
from Bemidji to Hollywood.
A grass roots
ecumenical tour, the venues were diverse: the historic Barter Theatre in
Abingdon, Virginia; St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem,
North Carolina; Edgehill Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee; the
Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Paul Bunyan
Playhouse in Bemidji in rural northern Minnesota; the Harrington Arts
Center at the Accordion Museum in Superior, Wisconsin; and finally at
the elegant home of author/voice-over talent Ben Patrick Johnson in the
hills above Hollywood.
show with music, comedy, photos and friends.
core of each concert was my multimedia show of original music and comedy
with photos of beautiful Thailand and the kids we’re helping,
synchronized to songs about eating anything, driving everywhere and
sleeping anytime (“Living in the Thailight Zone”), loving Thailand (“My
Home Away From Home”) and losing your parents and children to AIDS:
“Grandparents and grandchildren left behind, alone together but caught
up in a bind. They’re too old to earn or learn something new and too
young to know what to do.” Guest artist graced the stage at most events:
Grammy Award winner Barbara Bailey Hutchison (who recently performed
here in Chiangmai at FERC’s 6th Annual Gala in February 2005)
in NC, VA and in her hometown Nashville; singer/guitarist Derek Jacobson
in VA; recording artist Jill Holly and singer-songwriter Sara Wagner in
Minneapolis; the women’s folk trio Trillium in Bemidji; and the Celtic
band Willowgreen in Wisconsin.
So what is...I mean...where
is Thailand again?
Concert production, promotion and the logistics of getting merchandise
to each venue aside, the challenges were formidable. Everyday America
read hurricane headlines and watched destitute people struggling to
survive as contaminated waters and debris ravaged their homes. On the
night of the North Carolina concert, three Katrina benefits were
scheduled. Although last year’s tsunami put us on the map in some folk’s
minds, Thailand is not a household word in the USA. The six full pages
of travel ads in the Minneapolis newspaper listed only six fares to Asia
with none to Thailand. People from the Midwest and the South vacation
mainly in Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. But the hundreds that came
to the events gave generously to a new organization with unfamiliar
Let's do it again. And let's
go for a ride.
Many seeds were also planted for the future. Most volunteers talked
about “next time.” Help with events was offered in Scottsdale, Arizona,
in Madison, Wisconsin, in New York, in my hometown of Fargo, North
Dakota. A connection with a long-time friend spawned the plans for a
charity motorcycle ride here in northern Thailand during January 9-19, 2007:
Give-Live-Ride Thailand. 10 riders will raise 100,000 baht each for
Give and Live plus pay their own expenses for a pleasure ride and some
charitable service work at one of our projects. Two have already signed
Friends and family kept me
going, going, gone.
heart-warming moments during the tour were constant. Seeing family and
friends, then working with them for a common cause. Feeling the care and
community at Barbara Hutchison’s church in Nashville and watching those
folks make sure silent auction items given by their friends received
sufficient bids to make the donor feel good. An impromptu mini-concert
for my 93-year old stepfather and his nurse, probably his last concert
and the last time I see him. Though one of the goals was fund-raising,
other essential goals were education and awareness. And to take the
first steps toward those goals. A choice moment was when 8-year old
Matt, the son of dear friends, found me after the second concert, one
where he saw kids his age on the screen, heard their stories through
music, and felt compassion for their lives. For several years I’ve
always thought him to be shy and reserved, but he looked me right in the
eye and said emphatically, “That was powerful.” Those three words made
that evening a grand success and helped me through the rest of the tour.
Thank you, thank you, thank
you, thank you!
took me about a month to recover from the tour. I forgot I'm not 25
anymore. I probably would have been a road kill without all the grand
folks who gave their time, energy, art, products, support, food,
lodging, transportation, whatever. I wish I had remembered to take
photos at every show and had a photo of every volunteer to include right
here. This page would be about 11 meters long. I have an old photo of
great friend, playwright, badminton expert and major helper Charlie
Lovett that I could have used here but I can probably raise more money
if I show it to him and just threaten to use it.
Live Benefits USA Concert Tour 2005 press release
FERC Give and Live USA Concert Tour 2005
promotion, performers and venues
TO DAY updates:
FERC's 6th Annual Benefit Gala!
19 February 2005, Chiangmai, Thailand
There's more to give than money.
28 November 2004: Children's Garden, Doi Saket,
FERC's First Give and Live Benefit
September - October 2004: Chiangmai,
Two years ago I wasn't sure I'd live two more minutes.
27 July 2004: Sansai, Thailand
Day to Day has become month to month.
21 March 2004: Chiangmai, Thailand
& R and R & R for the R:
rest, relaxation, roots and rubber for the
20 December 2003: Chiangmai and Pai,
Later DAY TO
Give-Live-Ride Thailand Charity
Motorcycle Ride 2007!
January 2007, All Over Northern Thailand
220,000 baht, fireworks, badminton and love!
16 November 2005, Children's Garden, Doi Saket, Thailand
Srinehru Hmong School Gets New Facilities!
15 October 2005, Khun Chang Khian, Thailand
Board member Judy and
silent auction maven Janie model
Lahu hill tribe garments from Children's Garden orphanage.
Miss the tour? You can
still give from afar!
Or give and get!!!
Grammy Award winner Barbara
Bailey Hutchison and her very large heart joined the tour in
VA, NC and
New board member Todd
and Scott plan the Give-Live-Ride Thailand Charity Motorcycle Ride in 2006.
Emcee and "Funkytown"
composer Steven Greenberg stole the show in Minneapolis but kindly gave
it back to me.
Inspirational Matt and
fed my spirit and my stomach.
Thai-style, thank you
for the women behind the
scene and on stage: board members Amy
Judy Jost with singers Sara Wagner and Jill Holly.
The Daggett family in
bought a donated grand piano which will build a new school!