Tuesday, June 16, 2009

You Are Needed More Than Ever

A few weeks ago I went to a small, local storefront theater in my neighborhood and saw a play. For more than a year, I have passed this theater on my way to work and had been meaning to check out a show there. Personally, one of my favorite things about living in Chicago is the small storefront theaters. Yes, Wicked and Jersey Boys will attract many more tourists into the city, but my heart is with the small theaters. I've had many memorable experiences seeing small productions of some great plays. Ironically enough, I can even remember seeing Camus' The Stranger in a small church not far from Wrigley Field.

The theater in my neighborhood had two rows of seats, approximately 30 total, and wasn't more than twenty feet from the front of the stage. Unfortunately the turnout was sparse and there were only about eight of us. Before the show, I spoke with a woman selling tickets at the door and she indicated that the theater was doing fairly well, but the last two productions had been less successful. Perhaps this is due to the specific productions, but more than likely it is due to the economy.

My conversation with the woman at the door made me realize something important: we are all needed now, more than ever. If there is something you care about deeply, whether it be your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, a nearby church, the independent record store you love to visit, or that charity that you feel passionate about, your support is more important than ever.

In many cases, funding from the government is drying up. The public radio station in Chicago, WBEZ, has changed its pledge strategy. In the past it would ask listeners to pledge a dollar a day or $365 for the year. Today, it asks for $20 and indicates that if everyone could pledge that amount they would be in good shape.

Now more than ever, our support is needed.

While much of this support involves money, there are plenty of things we can do to support the organizations and causes that we feel strongly about. This includes:
  • Volunteering your time - perhaps you can lend a hand at a special event such as a fundraiser
  • Volunteering your service - do you have skills (e.g. sales, money management, leadership) that can help?
  • Your presence - money usually speaks the loudest, but sometimes your mere presence is a vote of support for the organization/cause you care about

I hope to get involved by helping promote the next play that is running at the theater. While I do have some public relations experience, I am learning about the effectiveness of social media. This volunteer opportunity can help me learn more about social media while helping promote the theater.

How about you...what places, groups and organizations do you feel passionate about? How can you help?

Photo by Anna Cervova

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