Giving@First Grows and Gives!



by Mike Haddad, Festival Director, Giving@First

In October of 2017, Theatre@First put on a play festival to raise money for people suffering from the effects of a devastating hurricane season. The festival became known as Giving@First. A wonderful team of writers, directors,  actors,and tech crew from the Theatre@First community came together to write, rehearse, and perform six never before seen shows. The festival was a smashing success: great art was made, money was graciously donated to a worthy cause, and all involved had a very hectic, chaotic, amazing twenty-four hours.  
      
On January 10th/11th 2020, Theatre@First proudly put on its 4th Giving@First festival, this time raising money for ALS ONE.  We have stayed true to our original format, and over the last couple of years, the festival has gotten bigger and bigger (this year we squeezed in a seventh show to accommodate as many people as we could....and still got it done in twenty four hours). This Giving@First proved not only to be our biggest in size, with a full house of theater patrons with big hearts, it was also our most successful,  raising over $1,500 for ALS ONE. Jen DiMartino, the executive director for ALSONE, came to the event and had a table set up, talking to various people about ALS ONE. She was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the cast, crew, and audience. 
      
In four Giving@First festivals, we have had 75 different members of our community donating their time and talents to make this happen (13 of whom have participated in some way in all four), and we have donated close to $5,000 to four amazing and worthwhile causes. I am so proud, happy, and thankful to be a part of this incredible Theatre@First family, who continue to live by the mantra: "more theater, less drama." We show what wondrous things we can do when we work together, how strong we are as a community, and, especially with these festivals, what a positive impact good people banding together and striving toward a common goal can have. These events do not happen without the people in our community.  Whether you wrote, directed, acted,  ran sound, gathered props, baked concessions, worked backstage, or simply came to see the show and support the event emotionally and financially,  YOU made this happen. 
        
We need to focus more on the good we can do rather than the bad that is done by others. We need to remember that any act of kindness, no matter how small, makes a difference and helps shift the balance back towards the light. We need to continue to stand against intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and willful ignorance. Never forget: 
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!

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