Open hearts and pockets at the H'Arts for the Homeless fundraiser
The Lookout Society was looking for a fun way to raise funds for its vital programs and services supporting those living without homes. The solution? Collaborate with In The House Festival and hold a fundraiser gala featuring some very talented, local artists and entertainers.
At $110, the tickets weren't cheap, but neither was the quality of entertainment, food, people, venue and cause.
The money raised through ticket sales and auctions, both silent and live, went directly towards the Lookout Society and its many initiatives.
As guests got to know one another over some delicious food and perused the variety of goodies in the silent auction, artists were busy painting in the background.
They had a mere four hours to complete the paintings before they were auctioned off by the infamous, David C. Jones. The sassy man kept the audience on their toes, and the paddles waving with many paintings going for over $1000!
In addition to the live painting going on there were also roving entertainers, The White Ladies, who mysteriously made their way through the crowd cawing like crows. They enticed many with their peculiar and often synchronized movements and their Victorian outfits.
Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. wowed the crowd with their dark but hilarious puppet story that stood true to the homeless theme. Acted out by spoons, forks and knives as well as many different background changes this was a fantastic grown-up version of the art of puppetry.
A magical night needs a magician and Jamie D. Grant was eager to be that guy. At the beginning of his act he said that we'd have three questions for him during his tricks: How did he do it? Did it actually happen twice? And, when did it happen? He was right. As he pulled bowling balls out of his hat and his suitcase, I was confused and impressed at the same time.
Zaccheus Jackson, the "East Van Ghetto Poet", had the audience captivated with his spoken word. How a man can speak so quickly while being audible is beyond me. It was amazing to hear how he has turned his world around and used his experience and emotions to create such beautiful and meaningful poetry.
Yuki Ueda, Cameron Fraser and Chris Murdoch of Three Dudes on a Stage used acrobatics, juggling and props to tell a family drama.
Mirae Rosner and Hailey McClosky chose lyrical dance for their outlet to express their feelings on what it's like to be homeless.
Melissa Bandura created a song specifically for the event and Lookout Society. Her beautiful voice and musical talent brought a light-hearted noted to the evening while also sending a message about homelessness.
To end the performance session with some fun, the Now or Never Crew entranced the crowd with their wicked breakdancing skills complete with stalls, and head spins. They boys, aged 17 to late twenties, have traveled globally to perform.
Before, during and after the performances there was an open bar wine reception, as well as a cash bar for those who preferred beer or cocktails. In that same vicinity students from the Cap College Textile studies were weaving the attendees prayers and wishes for the homeless into a wall hanging. This was later presented to the Lookout Society as a keepsake.
Another way to raise funds was by pulling a string. Seems easy, until you get duped. Guests were asked to pull a string then were told if they either won a prize or were supposed to donate $5 or $10. Most were caught off guard being told they owed money not knowing the rules before they got involved. I suppose it's like reading the fine print?
The event was also a learning experience for many guests who didn't know much about the homeless situation haunting the different municipalities.
New Westminster Councillor, Chuck Puchmayr, City of North Vancouver Mayor, Darrell Mussatto and Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs each took a few minutes to thank the Lookout Society and explain the importance of caring for the homeless.
"These are municipalities that have embraced diversity in communities," said Karen O'Shannacery, Executive Director of Lookout.
"Seniors are a rising homeless contingent in Greater Vancouver. How can people that have been working hard their entire lives now find themselves homeless?" Questioned Chuck Puchmayr before encouraging people to support the society and the politicians who are fighting against homelessness in this city. "If you aren't going to do it because it makes sense, do it because it saves dollars and you are saving lives."
For more photos from the event check out H'Arts for the Homeless gallery on Flickr.
About The Lookout Society:
Lookout holds that helping people help themselves is essential in addressing homelessness and all the issues that surround it. Securing appropriate housing is the first and most essential step in achieving responsible independence for individuals. With 22 locations around the Lower Mainland, Lookout provides safe and clean housing for people who would otherwise be living on the street or in unsafe, unsanitary and unsupportive environments. It provides a stable homebase where people can get make a fresh start in their lives. More than just a roof over their heads, Lookout is a secure place which residents can call "home."
The fixed address, phone, internet access and shower needed to have a job and to build one's dignity; the privacy, creature comforts and ability to cook one's own meals needed to feel secure and healthy; the moral and social support and connection to services in the community needed to feel like someone cares - these are all things that Lookout provides for its residents.
"The staff... are the kindest people that I've ever met... the kindness and the respect that they showed, and the dignity was just the kindest thing I'd come across in a very, very long time... They gave physical food, a physical place to put your head down and clean yourself up... Everything just makes you feel like a human being. It's given me a place to rebuild. It's given me a chance to rebuild my relationship with my son ... I'm so so so grateful that this opportunity came to me because this saved my life. - Lisa (whose stay in the Lookout housing in North Vancouver has allowed her to get back on her feet and receive the support necessary to become sober, rebuild her relationship with her young son and graduate with a degree in Health Services.)