A Fundraiser In Times of Crisis – Roadies Of Color United
By Liam Klenk
2020 has been a hard year for many in the entertainment industry. Roadies Of Color United decided to take action for their peers. Inspired after the death of Alan Thompson, a committee set up a fundraiser and managed to collect enough donations to make a meaningful difference in many people’s lives. Co-Founder Lance Jackson of Roadies Of Color United tells us about the experience.
The conversation of having a fundraiser goes back to the time before Covid19. It goes back to when Alan Thompson died in October 2018, from complications from a stroke he suffered a year prior.
Alan Thompson was a black production manager. He worked in many shows over the years. Patti Labelle, Chris Brown, Boyz II Men, Brandee, to name only a few. He was a true inspiration to us all.
After he passed away, we began talking about creating a fund to help our peers in times of crisis and emergencies.
One of our members, Sparkl West, started this conversation. But we put it on a shelf at the time.
Then, last year, beginning of 2020, we did our anniversary event. Right after, Covid19 happened. All of a sudden, our idea of a fundraiser became relevant and quite urgent. We began our discussions anew and wondered how and what we could possibly do.
Currently, we aren’t set up properly as a government-recognized non-profit organization. We are not recognized as a 501(c)3 – yet. But, we found something that worked. Technically, any organization can set up a fundraiser through GoFundMe without being a 501(c)3.
So, we set up a roadie relief fund. And we began raising money last March.
The fundraiser team consisted of a caring, invested group of people: Sparkl West, Tony Bulluck, Shae Usher, Ronny Stephenson, Robert Ducket, Rebekah Foster, Cherise P., Bill Reeves, and Lance Jackson.
This was the committee that was established to promote the endeavor.
At first, we were not sure what to expect and if we would ever be able to collect enough funds to make a difference. The first donation came from a company. A couple 100 dollars. Then the donations got smaller and smaller, until finally they got bigger again.
Ultimately, we raised 25,030 USD.
We want to recognize a few people here who helped us get there. It is, in fact, a combination of companies and individuals. They went above and beyond, and many donated out of their personal pockets.
Individual donors we want to highlight especially for their generosity, are:
Salinda Walker, “Filet” Mignogna, Victor Reed, Steve Maples, and Jenny Tolan.
Companies who donated to our cause whom we want to acknowledge, are:
Rockit Cargo, Relentless Entertainment, Vantage Entertainment, Eventric Master Tour, KC72576 technologies, Offstage storage, IRise Productions, and the Parrott Memorial Temple.
We started taking applications for grants after thanksgiving, up until the cut-off date December 7th, 2020.
We posted on our social media outlets and on LinkedIn. Members and non-member subscribers were eligible.
On December 8th, we issued the first grants.
As of today (end of January, 2021), we’ve given out over 20,000 USD. We have made great strides in helping people. Got a lot of thank you notes which touched our hearts and showed us all our efforts had been worth it. We have been able to make a small change for the better in many people’s lives.
In some cases of financial hardship, the grants helped them get through the Christmas holidays. One person we helped recently had a stroke and was hospitalized. So, we gave him an especially high sum of 2,500 USD, to help with his medical expenses and rehabilitation. He was incredibly surprised to say the least.
Our initial goal was to raise 250,000 USD. We managed to get only 10% of this projected sum. But the fund is still open. We want to try to keep going until the end of the first quarter of 2021.
If you want to help us make a difference, please consider visiting our GoFundMe page to make a donation.
With each grant we also sent people a certificate to commemorate the occasion. Something for people to share and hold on to.
Here are some of the thank you notes we received:
“Struggling through tears to express my gratitude. I received 500 USD this morning from this organization. An organization of my brothers and sisters who I’ve had the pleasure of working with, living with, loving with, crying and laughing with for the last 30 some years. It humbles me to know that we take care of our own. We look out for each other at home or on the road. I live my life by paying things forward and I will do so with this beautiful gift as well. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
As it is with most of you I can count on one hand the gigs I’ve done this year since March. I was at the airport on March 12 for a two-week gig in Vegas only to be turned around and sent home not knowing when and where my next gig would come from or how I would take care of my family. But, I have faith in God and humanity and know things will work out one way or another. As with most of you, I have taken to doing odd jobs to get by and help friends and family. This gift came so close to the holidays, at a time when needed most.
Again, I want to thank the beautiful people of this group for such a wonderful gift.”
– Dwayne Sumal
“I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who donated, and for this organization for considering me for the grant! You guys promised and you delivered! These are really hard times and things like this are a total breath of fresh air. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
– Andres Sosa
“My apologies for not reaching out to you sooner. I had a bit of a tough few weeks as a family member of mine had Covid. I’m grateful to God she beat it and is well now. I want to send out a HUGE thank you for the grant you blessed me with. It truly brought tears to my eyes during these tough times. It restores my hope knowing there’s saviors like you fighting for our industry to come back. While we wait for the safe return of tours, concerts and venues, I want you to know that your efforts to support us roadies are forever appreciated. Again, thank you so much and God Bless. You have my word, I have and will continue spreading the word about what you all are doing at R. O. C. U.
Take care and stay safe.”
Overall, we are immensely happy with the outcome of our campaign thus far. The sums we were able to give people weren’t huge by any standard. But they did make a difference.
And, during a time when many are grounded at home, unable to find work, and not sure what to do about it, our grants showed them that there are people who do, in fact, care. It showed them that they are not alone in their struggles.