Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spreading the Love

Happy Birthday to me!!

Ah, but your birthday is today... and it's almost over, you say. And I say, "No!" See, when your birthday falls this close to a weekend, well... then you have an extended fete!

So--yes--even as this is the start of Lent and those keeping with the observance are conditioned to be all depressed and droopy, I say, let the trumpets sound, the dancing commence, and welcome in the joy of life that should be what we mark on a birthday!

My way of celebrating and marking my next trip around the sun is with a party where I invite all my friends (or as many friends as I can think to invite in the hopes I'm not slighting anyone) to celebrate with me at my home and help me raise money for organizations doing good in the world.

The theme of my party is "All You Need is Love." Because I believe that is true. And love can come in so many forms, including a financial boost, because a little extra cash can help make a dream come true.

Take, for example, the Exeter Theater Company's capital campaign to purchase the IOKA Theater. The IOKA holds so many memories for me. It was the movie theater in my hometown where I saw my very first movies, including "The Sound of Music." I remember that the show was virtually sold out, and so my mom and I had to sit apart. I was something like six or seven years-old, so to sit away from my mom at a film that required an intermission to switch out the reels... well, it was a big deal. And it was like being at the stage theater. The long, heavy, velvet curtains would part when it was time for the previews or the cartoon (yes, they used to show cartoons before films when I was a kid). Our seventh grade class trooped down to the IOKA from Exeter Junior High School for a special showing of "The Elephant Man." And I'll never forget seeing "The Shining" with one of my best friends who was absolutely terrified while I just laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of "Red Rum." The IOKA has limped along, been reinvented as a night club, but really it's a theater. And a classic one. The Exeter Theater Company has embarked on a campaign to purchase the building so it can be revived as a center of art and culture, not only for my hometown, but for all the surrounding towns. I would love to see this happen. But it will take some moolah.

Art brings happiness to so many. The Mickee Faust Club has been delighting audiences for more than 25 years, and they have been doing it on virtually no money. Not an easy task now that the company has not one, but two performance spaces, in Railroad Square. The company is often breaking even with its three performances, radio shows, and video productions. A little cash infusion can help with the purchase of CDs for radio, or lights for the stage.

Other groups on my list: Amnesty International, which works diligently to free people from all kinds of prisons, both the physical and the political. They are one of the organizations providing services to those who are LGBT in Africa who face the threat of arrest, rape, imprisonment, and even death. The David Bahati "Kill the Gays bill" seems to keep coming back over and over in Uganda. So, any funds to them will be appreciated.

Finally, two groups committed to making things better now for LGBT children: the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, which helps students establish Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs and PFLAG-Tallahassee, the local chapter of the national organization, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which provides a safe landing for parents and others who are struggling with their understanding of their LGBT loved ones. I was beginning to think that GSAs were fading from the landscape because of the increasing acceptance of LGBT people in the country. Then I went to the one at our largest high school, and I was stunned to see almost 40 kids in this room, and most of them were not out to their parents. So, we have traveled many miles down the road of acceptance... and there are many more miles to go. What would it be like for PFLAG-Tallahassee to have a 60-second ad that can be shown on TV?

I recognize that a lot of people don't have money to give. But how lovely is to provide food to those in need? And so, I will also be collecting canned food items (beans, soup, tuna fish), so that I can package them up and take them to one of the food banks.

It's all about Love. And acting out of love for others. Happy Valentine's Birthday to me!

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