S.B. Community Action Partnership to Host Gala
By Dianne Anderson
As if world premier entertainers of the Carnegie Hall variety coming locally to perform isn’t already a major attraction, then there’s also the likes of former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Master of Ceremonies Bryon Russell for the upcoming gala for Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAPSBC).
Marlene Merrill, spokesperson for the CAPSBC, said it’s all good for the community as performances support the Food Bank to provide more resources to those in need.
This year, she said the food bank was delighted to connect with the dynamic duo, Two Piano Journey from New York City, high caliber entertainers that have played many international venues. The mother and son team are on a worldwide philanthropic mission to share their talent and leverage their performances for the benefit of nonprofits.
“We were really lucky this year for them to work with us and they’re going to be performing a wonderful classical piano recital, Rachmaninoff in the chapel of the University of Redlands,” she said. “We’re putting out the call for volunteers to be ambassadors to spread the word because we want to sell the place out.”
Hearts for Hunger, a small token glow heart necklace will also help with fundraising. Students with discounts may forgo haute couture, but business elegance is the dress code for the recital.
On Saturday, October 6, the piano recital will be held from 4:00-5:30 p.m. at University of Redlands Memorial Chapel, located at 1200 E. Colton Ave., Redlands. Tickets are $50 per person. Students are $25. Tickets for the gala reception and dinner are $125 each. The deadline to purchase is Sept. 28.
Each year, Merrill said their galas pull great support because donors know the countywide organization takes care of its own.
In 2017, their energy department helped over 11,000 households pay their utility bills totaling over $4.4 million. They also provided weatherization service for 849 homes, including replacement or repairing appliances, along with water saving devices to save on the bills.
“This area is still one of the highest in the nation for poverty in general, for childhood poverty also. Everything that we can do to try to raise funds, it only helps our whole community,” she said.
Aside from their typical busy and costly year, they also provided disaster relief for victims of the Bluecut fire with services for veterans, homeless, and the disadvantaged. Those services amounted to about $682,000 in support, she said.
The recital is about supporting the food bank, and she said their big push in fundraising is to help meet the growing need. All of San Bernardino County is served, but San Bernardino city and surrounding cities are taking the brunt of the impact. The choice is often between paying the rent or going without utilities or food.
“The food bank stands out quite a bit because we gave $27 million worth of food last year,” she said.
“These are really huge numbers, the need is always greater than what we do. You know you’re down to your very, very basics when you need food.”
This year, CAPSBC also launched the Campus Covered program giving students more access to food than daily noodles. They also want to expand programming to get more healthy nutritious food on campuses. Currently, they deliver directly to Victor Valley College and San Bernardino Valley College. Students in need walk into the food pantry and get it.
“We’ve had different colleges reaching out to us that their students are starving. They are there trying to better themselves so they can become gainfully employed and pull themselves out of poverty,” she said.
Across the county, the organization regularly tables information to create awareness of the numerous services they offer, including HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) and utility assistance payments.
The program also literally has its Small Army of Volunteers, about 5,000 who donate time and energy. They pick up food to get it out to sites, and distribute to people in need. They help with holiday turkey giveaways, and a recent Book Fest giveaway.
She said ambassadors will help get the word out on their upcoming gala and piano recital, and she is excited to be working with the local schools and extend an invitation for students to take advantage of the classic treat.
About 400 volunteers in their database have signed up and on call through their website, which has garnered a tremendous email response from those that want to give their time and energy.
“It’s great to see,” Merrill said. “Not everyone can give financially, but they can help the operation. This is the community coming together, it’s a beautiful thing.”
For more information, see www.capsbc.org/annual-gala