"It is important to let people in crisis know they are not forgotten."
Elissa Taylor, 35, works as the booking manager for the Eckerd Theater Company and as an instructor for the Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute, both of which are based in Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL. Elissa helped the youth enrolled at the Institute to put on a benefit concert to raise money for a school in Biloxi, MS, one of the cities affected by Hurricane Katrina.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Elissa: I coordinated a benefit concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL, for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, MS.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Elissa: Eckerd Theater Company and the Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Elissa: The Eckerd Theater Company is a professional group of actors who came up with the idea of doing a relief performance in Biloxi, MS, while on tour this year. One of the cast members is from that area, and they wanted to do something to contribute. The teens from the Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall were so inspired by the generosity of the professional actors that they, too, wanted to do something to contribute. They proposed a cabaret show to raise money, which was given to a school in Biloxi to fund all drama activities for the rest of the school year!
What inspired you to get involved?
Elissa: Everyone involved in this project donated their time and skills, and I wanted to be as involved as possible, not only to do my part, but to guide the students in their endeavor as well. Their concert/cabaret show was completely student-run, with guidance and coordination when absolutely necessary.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Elissa: I work at Ruth Eckerd Hall, and I take on extra projects when the opportunity presents itself. I love working with kids, especially teens.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Elissa: Seeing the trickle-down effect of the inspiration of humanity. Also, seeing how proud the teens who did the benefit concert were of what they put together and how much they grew throughout the whole experience.
What is/was the hardest part?
Elissa: Not being able to be in Biloxi to experience the joy from the students who received the money and saw the performance that the Eckerd Theater Company presented.
What was the biggest surprise?
Elissa: The degree of appreciation from the students in Biloxi.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Elissa: It is important to let people in crisis know they are not forgotten and to always contribute in any way possible, even in the smallest capacity. I am truly touched and humbled by the whole experience.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Elissa: It is a very rewarding experience to be involved in something so important. Any opportunity to do so should be embraced!
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