Haitian benefit Saturday at NYE Gallery, Oak Bluffs
File photo by Susan Safford
Among the first non-affiliated Americans to rush to the aid of Haitians after the devastating January earthquake was Island born and raised Victoria Campbell. She and her friend Abigail Pope, both of whom now reside in New York, embarked on an adventurous, at times risky, trip to the capital, Port-au-Prince, just days after the quake. They delivered much-needed basic medical supplies to a ravaged clinic and stayed on for 10 days, pitching in wherever they could.
Since then, Ms. Campbell has returned twice to Haiti, delivering donations of money and supplies. She has become very involved with an organization there called Solidarité Haïtienne, a grassroots association founded by a group of local community organizers in the Christ Roi neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. The Haitian-led and staffed organization provides a local community-based response to the crisis. This Saturday, friends of Ms. Campbell's and others concerned with the situation in Haiti are throwing a multi-faceted fundraiser at the NYE Gallery in Oak Bluffs, with all of the proceeds dedicated to funding a clinic, a food distribution program, and other emergency measures that are currently the focus of Solidarité Haïtienne.
The event features a family friendly party with activities for kids, a family dance party, hula hooping, antics by Coco the Clown, a performance by Rick Bausman's drum circle, a potluck, and acoustic music. The fundraiser continues at 9 pm with a concert by a number of local bands.
Other organizations, such as Fish Farm for Haiti, as well as individuals who have had some involvement in Haitian relief work, will be on hand offering information and PowerPoint demonstrations. There will also be a silent art auction with donated works by Traeger DiPietro, Steve Lohman, Kara Taylor, David Tierney, Marsha Winsryg, and others.
The initial idea of hosting a benefit concert, which was under discussion as early as last winter, has mushroomed into a huge awareness and fundraising party as more and more people have volunteered to lend their talents to the event, such as the group called Get Down Dirty, which will provide an art installation. One of the event's organizers, Treather Gassmann, describes their concept as "A winter wonderland incorporating a celebration of the Haitian people and their resilience."
The musical entertainment includes short performances by the following bands: Kahoots, Master Exploder, Phil DaRosa, Goodnight Louise, Dukes County Love Affair, Mercy Beat, Erich Leuning, Megan Laroque, and Kevin Keady, and dance music provided by DJ Shizz, DJ Di, Irie Bomber, DJ Cuzzin Andrew, and Island Thunder. Organizer Rob Myers notes that the list of participating musicians is growing daily.
Ms. Gassmann, who is a teacher at the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School, is excited about the possibilities of involving children in what she hopes will become an ongoing effort. She says, "It's not just a one-off deal. We're hoping to create a long-term connection. Like a sister island relationship."
She notes that a school in Port-au-Prince is one of the institutions that will benefit from the efforts of Solidarité Haïtienne. "We're involving the schools in this event," she says. "We're hoping that kids will become pen pals, go on Skype and track the progress with this school in Haiti.
"When people are empowered to help others it helps us to find a purpose and see that there are people really having a hard time. I think this is a real process where we can have an exchange. We want it to be part of this community."
Haitian Celebration/Fundraiser, Saturday, 5 pm–12 am, NYE Gallery, Oak Bluffs. Music, potluck, art auction, hula hooping, more. Benefits Christ Roi Clinic and Elementary School. solidhaiti.org.