When Doug Cox and I first conceptualized the Helping Hands Benefit Concert, we anticipated the community would embrace the initiative. We weren’t wrong.
Word had barely gotten out, and musicians were lining up to be a part of it, while businesses continue to show their generosity with auction items.
Helping Hands came about as a result of a lunch date.
Doug and I were lamenting the predicament the residents of the flooded Mariner Apartment were in. A Town of Comox water main burst on Jan. 11, flooding the entire first floor of the building.
One day later, the Mariner Apartment landlord invoked a “frustrated tenancy” clause, effectively ending all tenancies and evicting the residents of 17 first-floor units.
Through no fault of their own, the tenants were suddenly homeless, left to their own devices to find lodging in one of the hardest communities in Canada to find rental accommodations.
Doug said “let’s have a benefit concert” and Helping Hands was born.
The response has been overwhelming, likely because people realize it’s a situation that could have happened to just about anyone.
The City of Courtenay got involved, providing the venue.
Doug already had the Native Sons Hall booked for an Ashely McIsaac concert Feb. 8, so we asked if we could “move in” one day early.
Mayor Bob Wells pulled some strings and we had a venue.
(A big shout-out is owed to the Comox Valley Pickleball Association, for graciously conceding its usual Thursday afternoon slot. We know how devoted pickleballers are to their sport. We promise to leave the hall the way we found it.)
While Courtenay gave us the venue, Comox has been busy making sure the silent auction is a success.
Comox Mayor Russ Arnott and his council have been pounding the pavement, soliciting businesses within the town for silent auction items.
“We have been working hard behind the scenes to help out,” said Arnott. “We’ve talked to Quality Foods, to Black Fin, to the up-and-coming Church Street Brew Pub, and to our BIA [Comox Business in Action] person yesterday. Anyone from Comox who wants to get involved can contact me through the town hall or at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org and I check that numerous times a day.”
Comox councillor Pat McKenna offered to MC the event, and how could we refuse such an offer. Pat’s a natural – never met a mike he doesn’t like.
You can also head over to Land & Sea Brewing Company. The newest brewery in the Comox Valley is making a solid first impression. Owner, Jason Walker, has temporarily renamed his Marina Mild as the “Mariner Mild,” and 50 cents from each litre sold from now until the Helping Hands Benefit Concert will be donated to the cause. There is also a growler at the counter, collecting donations to be added to the Feb. 7 total.
Many other businesses and organizations, from the Comox Valley and beyond, have jumped on board.
I-Hos Gallery will be supplying the concession manpower. Sure Copy in Courtenay has provided the posters that are mounted in storefronts and windows of businesses throughout the Valley.
Silent auction items include a whale watching trip courtesy of Aboriginal Journeys of Campbell River, an electric heat stove from Comox Valley Fireplace & Patio, a house concert from one of the Valley’s most popular musical duos, Easy Street, and even a collector’s edition Beatles anthology – all 13 studio albums, as well as a hard-copy book – valued at $600.
And that’s just a sampling of some of the great items up for bids.
Then there’s the music.
Juno-award winner Sue Medley headlines a great lineup, which includes The Mulligans, Ashley Sykes, Andrea Rose and Alannah Clark, and Rebel Heart.
Opening the show will be teen guitar sensation Farley Mifsud, and his mother Katrina.
There will be 50/50 draws, door prizes, and good cheer throughout the evening.
It all takes place Feb. 7, from 6-11 p.m. at the Native Sons Hall.
Admission is by donation at the door.
Can’t make it but still want to contribute?
We’ve got you covered.
We have a trust fund set up at the Coastal Community Credit Union.
The Mariner Apartment Flood Victims’ Trust (M#799490) is now operational and accepting donations.
All proceeds from the Helping Hands Benefit Concert will be deposited into that account, and distributed to the evictees immediately thereafter.
This is shaping up to be the “feel good” fundraiser of the year. Make sure you’re a part of it.
Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record