During the Christmas holidays I stopped by local non-profit Well in the Desert to drop off a bag full of clean clothes and was quickly humbled by what I walked into. It was busy day here at home when I felt inclined to tear through my drawers and closets to fill up a rolling bag that was sitting sadly alone in the garage. I’ve always loved a minimalist way of living. If I’m not wearing or using it, tell me again why I have it? This was one of those days. I zipped it up and placed it in my trunk for a delivery a few days later.
After calling ahead I spoke with someone that told me to come on over so I did just that on a lunch break one gloomy rainy weekday. This forecast didn’t help the dire situation I discovered. I found the location behind a church and soon realized there was only one other car in the lot on Rosa Parks Drive. I grabbed the bag and began my entry up the sidewalk and into the dimly lit building. As I came around the corner the reality soon hit me.
When I’ve delivered or donated clothes to trans organizations in Nashville or locally at Revivals it’s been very different than what I saw this day. So in all honesty I wasn’t prepared for what was happening. There were people sleeping on the floor in one room. A few kids running around screaming as a sole security guard milled about. I asked if there were staff around when a young girl came out to retrieve the clothes and thanked me. I turned and left, thanked my lucky stars and cried silently in my car while rain tapped across my windows glass.
I knew right then I would be doing something to give back. Well in the Desert not only provides a daily meal to our Valley’s homeless, seniors, poor, anyone who needs help, but they also provide a place of refuge for someone to lay their head down and will soon begin medical services for people with immediate needs. I had hoped to raise money for cots and mattresses but through correspondence I sadly learned the location has limited space for storage so purchasing sleeping bags would be a better move. And planning began!
Dominic, general manager at Copa Nightclub and my good friend, was immediately onboard to host a charity event at the club along the lines of our benefit for the entertainers who survived the shooting at Pulse Orlando. Our minds work well together, very connected about our conviction of community intent. He handed over the reigns and I got moving. I decided to give us a month of planning and promoting which worked well. I cast a dozen of wonderful performers who gave their heart and soul to the cause and for that I am grateful. I actually reached out to a good number of entertainers quickly learning not everyone would be great about getting back. After mentioning this to a fellow charity do-gooder, he replied, “When you first realize not everyone is on your same page you’ll see everything in a different light.”
Correspondence began between everyone involved and planning ensued. Bella Da Ball has a weekly show at Copa and falling in behind her gig seemed perfect. She came up with the title #ShareTheLove and the ball was rolling. Pun intended. I grabbed a few friends to help with production and left the performers to decide their music. I love using entertainers who don’t get a ton of exposure. My incredible cast included Fabeyonce, Kitt, Crystal Champagne, Lola La Showgirl, Doug Graham, Cliff Tatum, Brian Scott, Carol Kamenis, Marina Mac, Bella and myself. Yahass, Queen! I pulled some Rob Thomas gig on the kids. Thanks to GarageBand on my MacBook I mixed up “Lonely No More” and “This is How a Heart Breaks” and was feeling myself, for reals.
I sent out a few emails and phone calls to local businesses in hopes of generous donations for the raffle we would have through the show. And I’m happy to report the majority of everyone I contacted did donate! I have very good friends. They include CUT Barber, Palm Springs Piercing Company, Lulu California Bistro, Tropicale, Alicante, Copa Nightclub, local masseurs: Marty, Mark and Jimmy, Power Yoga Palm Springs, World Gym Palm Springs, local fitness trainers: Ted and David, and a fabulous Morningstar Productions photoshoot worth $500. I thank them all for their support and love. After running around a few days to collect them all, we were set! Posters were printed and the dear Jim Nixon got them around town! I had a great team including Karina on the door and hunky Scott shirtless selling raffle tickets that night.
The evening arrived. I walked into Copa Nightclub around 8:45 p.m. and not a minute too soon. The team got busy as Bella’s drag show Lipstick played on and the crowd soaked up the festive atmosphere around them. Entertainers arrived, dear support continued to appear from around the corner and I began to relax into the event. After a bit of DJ musical woe with unplayable tracks we finally kicked off the show! Fabeyonce started us off, I performed second and the rest of the evening went very well. I was honored that people came out and showed their support. A later-evening Thursday night show in our quiet desert town is a hard sell. People, including myself, would normally be piled up on the couch. Sorry not sorry. I get it! However, those who made the effort, I worship you. Even the ones who simply showed an interest in what I was doing meant the world to me. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
Again, not everyone understands why I do what I do and I get that. I enjoy giving back to a community I’ve been able to benefit from for years, because I can. Homelessness is an interesting thing. It’s all around us in the Coachella Valley, though, my recent trip downtown L.A. showed me that we don’t have any comparison to the amount in Los Angeles. It’s mind-blowing to drive around and see hundreds of tents on sidewalks. That’s stark reality. We chose to acknowledge homeless or not. We have a dollar or change to give or we decide not to help another. We chose to decide for someone else why they are homeless without having any true concept why or have maybe been close to being without a roof over our heads ourselves. Hey, guess what. If someone is begging and living on the streets, we don’t know their story but should assume it’s dire and desperate. I’m proud that I helped. And given the perfect situation or formula, any one of us can be homeless no matter what you have today. Remember that and be grateful.
The evening went very well! After donations at the door, tips of performers and monies from the raffle we raised $1400. I stopped by Big 5 Sporting Goods at Smoketree Commons and spoke with the manager who assisted me in ordering 50 sleeping bags! I’m was thrilled! I even have a handful of checks to hand over to Well in the Desert, as well. We did good! Peace to us all! ♥