My idea with this title is to provide an ongoing look at grass-roots fundraising events, initiatives and charities. Hopefully, the events will be something that I will partake in, but if not, the charity will be covered. I hope that I will highlight the efforts of a passionate organizing team, and report back on the success of an event.
Event and Charity spotlight – Guitars 4 VETS.
My first installment is an event in Airdrie Alberta, which was organized by a university buddy of mine – Steve. The organizing team is one of the supported charities – Support Local Airdrie Musicians(SLAM), and the other charity will be spotlighted here – Guitars 4 VETS, founded by my maritime buddy Jim, and his wife Debbie.
Guitars for Vets is the offspring of Veterans Emergency Transitions Services(VETS). The story about its genesis goes into Jim’s efforts in Halifax. While volunteering in a soup kitchen handing out meals to the homeless, shortly after his departure from the Canadian Forces, Jim recognized a fellow Veteran in the line. Realizing that his buddy was homeless struck a nerve with him, and he followed up to discover that the number of homeless Veterans in Halifax was staggering. That inspired him to develop the group which became the charity that helps homeless veterans get back on their feet. When you think about it – this was such a natural progression. VETS was to help those on the streets, and Guitars for Vets is trying to address one of the main cause factors making veterans homeless – mental health. The program works behind the scenes and is all across Canada.
Struggling with his own emotions, Jim turned to a guitar for patience and calming influences. Realizing the impact that playing the guitar had on his situation, he extrapolated that to start the new program that matches veterans with guitars and an instructor for 10 free lessons, with online lessons available if an instructor isn’t readily available. This program has become hugely successful, due to the calming effects of the concentration needed to learn to play, and the therapy that has always been associated with music programs.
When you think about it – this was such a natural progression. VETS was to help those on the streets, and Guitars for VETS is trying to address one of the main cause factors making Veterans homeless – mental health. Both programs work behind the scenes and is all across Canada.
The event in Airdrie (February 6th) was an acoustic concert featuring Canadian icon Sass Jordan. The opening act was a local youngster named Christian Hudson – I recommend you remember that name; he should go far in the music scene. You may remember him winning $10,000 in a Calgary Stampede talent search – you may not know that he donated his winnings to the Calgary homeless. Definitely something that gets the warms the hearts of people like Jim and Debbie. Check out his site, and read more about his story, links to his other social media pages are included in his twitter and website.
Back to talking about VETS Canada, be sure to check them out – they work behind the scenes putting boots on the ground trying to find homeless veterans, who just need a certain boost to be back on the right track. Watch for events near you to fundraise for this organization, or volunteer to join their team and help. They have garnered the attention of some heavy hitters to bring on to their team, and bigger charities are offering support which will ensure that these programs have a long life.
I get a kick out of the story Jim tells about when he started thinking about guitars for vets… he says – how many people bought their kids a guitar to learn to play, but it now sits in a closet unused because the kids didn’t stick with it… (I laughed because it kinda happened like that in our house too) why not donate that guitar to a program like this. Seemed so simple a concept to get started… having now handed out hundreds of guitars and lessons – he found something that really helps.
The event with Sass Jordan (Sass’s Twitter , and her website ) was organized by awesome volunteers, feel free to show them some love too. In my mind, the event was a resounding success. A very well executed evening of drinks and chit-chat, with some great tunes thrown in was worth the drive down and price of admission. Not to mention Chris Caddell rocking the hair and guitar.
Please check out those that made this event possible and show them some love (likes/follow etc).
Here is some cell phone video….of the song I waited all night for it.
Come back to see other charity events that I will be trying to shine a spotlight on.