Theater Camp Benefits Haiti Scholars
The William and Mary sophomore working to bring Haitian College students to study in America left Tuesday for Haiti. He’ll be back in time for a show, On Stage for Haiti, to benefit those efforts.
Danny Yates was in the small town of Hinche, 50 miles or so from Port au Prince, when a devastating earthquake ravaged Haiti. He has worked ever since to help the victims of it.
The Haitian Scholars Project, through the I Have A Dream Foundation in Richmond, could bring as many as 12 Haitian University students to study on scholarships provided by an historically black college in North Carolina.
Yates: Barber-Scotia provide them scholarship, but the second half, the room and board, has to be provided by us. So right now we're only at six students, there's been a seventh student who's added in because of a private donor.
Enter Laurie Follmer. She and her sister, Lisa Harrison, run a summer camp for kids. Kids with talent and unique skills.
Follmer: We have a week-long musical theater camp that culminates in a public performance, and all the proceeds from the camp and the performance, we donate to a charitable organization; and our first two years, we did breast cancer research because my mother is a breast cancer survivor and it was close to our heart. And then we read about Danny Yates and we were so impressed with him and his organization, we said, 'that's the one.'
Camp for the Cure begins Monday at the Maggie Walker Governor’s School.
Follmer: We have a record number of 72 kids this year, yeah, and they're, trying to get them all on the stage at Maggie Walker will be very challenging, but we're figuring out how to do it.
Where do these kids come from?
Follmer: They're from all over Richmond. We have a lot of city of Richmond kids, but we're also drawing from Henrico and from Hanover, and really, all over.
Some of the students performing this year were here for the first camp three years ago and they have been working on music they’ll sing this year.
The theater camp grew out of an effort to raise funds for cancer research.
Follmer: The very first year we did the 60-mile walk, and to take part in the 60-mile walk for Susan Komen Foundation, you have to raise a certain amount of money, and we thought, 'how can we creatively, instead of just sending out letters, would you donate, we thought how can we creatively raise money?' And since theater is our background and our passion, we thought, at first we thought, let's do a talent show, and then we thought no, let's do a camp and so that's how it started.
They’ll meet every day from nine until one in the theater at Maggie Walker.
Follmer: And we teach them the songs and the dances, and some of the kids don't want to be on stage, so they help with backstage or they run the light board or the sound board, but everybody that's involved donates their time and volunteers their talents. We have a musician that's been playing for us and Eric Harrison is a drummer, he owns Harrison Music, he comes in and plays the drums for us, and then we have a handful of adult guest performers that come in so that the kids can work with some adults.
The music is a cross-section of songs from Broadway shows.
Follmer: It's open to everyone and when they show up the first day, we place them in what songs that they're gonna be in before that so they can be familiar with the music and we start at 9 o'clock Monday morning teaching.
Yates, who’s a graduate of Maggie Walker, says the effort going into the Friday night and Saturday afternoon performances is impressive and it could make a big difference.
Yates: We're hoping that the ticket revenues will help boost us up around five thousand dollars, which would definitely sponsor one student, room and board, everything for an entire year, so we're very excited about it.
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John Ogle, WCVE News