Barber Xavier Zsarmani, 35, of Statesville, NC, helped his community heal after seven of its teens died in a car accident by writing and staging a play about the event. The play featured the victims' friends and was given a standing ovation by over 1000 attendees.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Xavier: I wrote a theatrical play about seven teenagers that were killed in a single car accident while being pursued by a police officer. It was called, "If These Teens Could Talk", which I produced and directed. I asked several friends of the teens to act in the play. Some of the actors are considered troubled teens. The play was staged on March 17, 2004, to raise money for unfinished funeral bills of the seven teens.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Xavier: The project was an effort to heal the community of a tremendous loss. The families of the victims benefit as well as a healing community.
What inspired you to get involved?
Xavier: The pain of the negative stories that were printed due to a rush in judgment. They blamed the teens' parents and the officer involved.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Xavier: After all of the positive reports from four news networks, the play was filled with laughter and tears of over 1100 parents, teenagers and community leaders. Over 250 people were turned away because it was over capacity.
What is/was the hardest part?
Xavier: The hardest part was getting locals to receive healing. Also, that people didnít donate well.
What was the biggest surprise?
Xavier: The response that spread nationally about this play and these seven teenagers. The calls, the e-mails, the television news reports were incredible. They all wanted the play brought to their cities.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Xavier: I changed the lives of people all over the country that I will never meet. Iíve changed in a way thatís forced me to empower those that thought they never had a chance to make a difference.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Xavier: The reward is incredible if you put your heart and soul into it, and donít give in to any dream stealers because they'll come hunting.
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