Friday, Nov. 6 marks the sixth year for "Feed Your Soul," an event dreamed up by artists, designers and architects to benefit Wisconsin's hungry. And once again this year, it will be in the cool digs of Flux Design, a design shop at 811 E. Vienna Ave. in Milwaukee.
Six years ago I was asked to chair a food drive. I attended a fundraiser for Feeding America (formerly known as America's Second Harvest) a few months prior and I remember hearing that money goes a lot further than actual food donations. So, I called Feeding America and I was impressed that they were receptive to our ideas. As soon as we walked in the door they were able to tell us where our money would be going, how they use it and where they make the most impact.
They are a thoroughly impressive group. There president/CEO Bonnie Bellehumeur assembled a remarkable staff of talented, articulate and passionate folks who do a lot of great things for our community.
We had one month to plan our event. I compiled a group of designers, architects and artists and away we went. Jeremy Shamrovicz and Jesse Meyer (Flux Design) generously offered their inspiring, fun and hip space to host the event. The first year things were literally thrown together. Someone called me the day before the event and said, "Looks like rain, what do we have for coat racks?" I called Flux and they said, "We'll handle it." By the time the event began, there stood four beautiful hand-crafted coat racks.
So many things have contributed to what the event is today and you can read more about it here: www.feedyoursoul.us. What I really want to focus on is what great people we have in Milwaukee. I was fresh off the plane, moving to Milwaukee after living in various other cities for 15 years. (Most recently, I lived in San Francisco for eight years.) I was never invited to a charity event of any sort in San Francisco, much less chair one.
So, with no credibility on the subject, I asked my fellow designers to help me. With little hesitation they were receptive as were the people we asked to participate. Go to the Web site to see the amazing creativity that has come of these simple wooden bowls and the artwork that artists so generously donate year after year.
That first year we raised over $12,000 with just a month to plan. Since then we have practically doubled our profit every year and cumulatively raised nearly $200,000 for Feeding America. Would that have happened in San Francisco? Not with the involvement of regular people like me. These types of events in San Francisco are usually handled and attended by those who have enough money to solve the country's debt single handedly.
My intention is not to take away from the great work people do throughout the country, any help to a worthy organization such as Feeding America is wonderful no matter what your bank account. I just want to acknowledge that Milwaukee is a very approachable city that allows you to do great things. For that reason alone, I am so happy to be living here.
I also don't want to come across as congratulating myself on this. The way I see it, I was just the sucker who accepted the responsibility, but it was the enthusiastic people that I asked to help and participate that need to be commended because without them, this event wouldn't have taken off.
Thank you to those who helped, are helping and participating whether you are creating artwork, volunteering your time or simply attending the event. Look what we've done, in just a short six years.
Come and support your local artists while raising money for a very necessary and wonderful cause. Perfect timing to grab a gift for yourself or a loved one for the holidays.
For more information, to buy advance tickets and to participate, please visit the Web site: feedyoursoul.us