Music

Rockin’ for the RE Store

Of revelry and raffling

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When the fine minds that steward the RE Store came up with an idea last year to throw a big—really big—benefit to raise money for their Community Jobs Training Program, they had no idea whether theirs was a party the public would embrace.

After all, the RE Store is in the business of building community—literally and figuratively—which doesn’t leave them with much time for party planning.

But they need not have worried. As it so often does, Bellingham exhibited a perfect understanding of why supporting the RE Store in general and the Community Jobs Training Program specifically were so important—and the bands, raffle prizes and great beer didn’t hurt the event’s draw either.

The only thing left is to do it all over again.

So they shall, on Fri., May 18 when the second annual Rockin’ for the RE Store takes place, and if you had a good time last year, you’ll be happy to know organizers have not deviated far from that inaugural event.

If you’re going to throw a big, community-minded fundraiser of any kind in Bellingham, odds are pretty decent Boundary Bay Brewery is going to get in on the altruistic action. Their beer garden also happens to be the perfect locale for an outdoor bash planned for a time of year when the weather compels people to emerge from their winter dormancy. Should we need proof of that, we need look no further than 2017’s Rockin’ for the RE Store, which drew hundreds of people, packed Boundary’s beer garden and raised $10,000 for the Community Jobs Training Program, which then used that money to provide 2,100 hours of one-on-one, on-the-job training for 17 people.

Plus, attendees bought tickets for all of the raffle prizes, purchased every single item in the silent auction and basically outdid themselves all over the place. Impressive work, Bellingham.

This year, the RE Store would like to raise double the amount of money—$20,000—at the event, and they’re going to do it the best way they know how: with live music and great prizes. Both the Legendary Chucklenuts and High Mountain Stringband will be back to provide the soundtrack, largely due their ability to get—and keep—people dancing last year, which isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds.

Now let’s talk about raffle prizes. Dinner and lodging for two at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island (if you win, take me. I promise it won’t be weird at all). A double-date spa package from the Chrysalis Inn & Spa and Lovitt Restaurant. A Taylor guitar and lessons from Mojo Music Discount. I guess when you’re trying to raise $20k, you make those $5 raffle tickets really worth the winners’ while.

For RE Store Marketing and Outreach Director Samantha Hale, it’s the silent auction she’s particularly looking forward to. “The community has been so supportive this year and our auction is jam-packed with amazing goodies,” she says. “I’m already planning on bidding on some items; it’s a great way to shop for friends and family while supporting a cause.”

Speaking of the cause, it’s important to remember with all this rocking and raffling and revelry is about: helping to alleviate joblessness in Whatcom county, one newly trained worker at a time. The Community Jobs Training Program is an exceedingly practical means by which to empower its participants while increasing the number of skilled workers who will then help do with the RE Store itself does: build community.

“The Community Jobs Training Program is often the first opportunity that people are given to learn new job skills,” Hale says. “Trainees, or people that go through our program, are placed with us from a variety of organizations in town, such as the Opportunity Council, WorkSource, and Northwest Youth Services, and stay with us for up to six months. During this time, they work one-on-one with our staff to gain the skills, confidence and references needed to succeed in today’s workforce. By investing in those who need help the most, we’re building a stronger more resilient Whatcom County.”

If all of that weren’t enough, Rockin’ for the RE Store will likely also serve as an opportunity to meet—for the three or four people left in Bellingham who do not know him—RE Sources’ recently announced interim executive director, Duane Jager. After 20 years with RE Sources—and six at its helm as its executive director—Crina Hoyer is moving on from the organization that oversees the RE Store (among many other things), passing the proverbial baton from her capable hand to Jager’s. He’s certainly qualified for the position, having helped to found nearly 10 local nonprofits, from ReUse Works to Sustainable Connections, all of which are still operating today.

When it’s all said, raffled and sung, Hale hopes this year’s Rockin’ at the RE Store will be the unqualified success last year’s fundraiser was, not just because of the training the RE Store will use the proceeds to provide, but for what that training also buys: opportunities, self-assurance, hope. “At the RE Store,” she says, “we believe that everyone deserves a chance.”

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