A little over a month and half ago, our Lead Curator Salvador Espinoza suggested that we organize a fundraiser for Puerto Rico to get help to the island after the devastation that was left behind created by Hurricane Maria.
After some thought and preparation we came up with an idea for the Queens for Puerto Rico Relief Fund or #QU4PR. We teamed up to collaborate with Christian San Martin or otherwise known as The Visual Vandal, Bridget Bartolini of the Five Boro Story Project & Wendy Angulo of Wendy Angulo Productions and presented the #QU4PR photo and art gallery which focused on a dual theme of Queens community and Puerto Rican culture.
The exhibit featured at two very different locations and two very unique venues in Queens.
The first event took place at La Gloria Restaurant and Lounge in the heart of Jackson Heights, Queens. We choose La Gloria primarily because we were looking to collaborate with the talented and community driven Christian "Pookierazzi" San Martin. Also known as The Visual Vandal, Christian has hosted the popular Boulevard Brunch at the La Gloria for over a decade. Also invited to the first round of #QU4PR were Queens Village resident D.J. Dubbcity and D.J. Steph Cakes.
While we were planning our first event, we were contacted by Paul Serelis, owner of Vintage Wine Bar. Paul supports a local charity every month by donating 33% of his earnings from a select red & white wine. Tabbed as the Wine of the Month program, Paul choose Queenscapes and the "Queens for Puerto Rico Relief Fund" as his charity to support in November. To compliment these efforts, Paul also invited us to host a second fundraising event at the end of November.
Because our first fundraiser focused on engaging community through a celebration of cultures, we thought it would be interesting to go a different route with the second fundraiser and concentrate on community building.
To flesh out a program with no music and crowd engagement, we invited Bridget Bartolini, founder of the Five Boro Story Project and Wendy Angulo of Wendy Angulo Productions and incorporated story telling and spoken word artists along with poets who supplied performances that supported our main theme of Queens community and Puerto Rican culture.Nelson Lugo, Jessie Cotto, George Torres, and Joselynn Cortes all turned in amazing performances. Their pieces served as a fitting precursor to a subsequent open forum discussion geared towards folks speaking on current community projects and or upcoming ideas.
In two events, totaling seven hours, accompanied with Vintage's Wine of the Month Program, we were able to successfully raise $2,501.80. Below is the breakdown of all donation money collected:
La Gloria Restaurant & Lounge 11/08
Entry, photo & raffle sales -$1,104.00
Domingo Carrasco & P.S. 129 - $500.00
Greater Astoria Historical Society - $100.00
Vintage Wine 11/30
Entry, photo & raffle sales - $314.00
Vintage Wine of the Month program - $433.80
Road to Greatness - $50.00
(100% of all money collected to be donated to @conprmetidos, a non partisan, non profit San Juan based charity.)
Words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez Photo by Taranita Cosales