New Haven, CT – Benefit for CCA

Two weeks ago, I did some press and radio, and talked about an upcoming fundraising concert, for a group called Christian Community Action, which is in fact a “people helping people” notion and idea, in action. They are a model organization.

An excellent formatted approach that could be copied and taught around the country. They have Reverend Bonita Grubbs, who is the smart and powerful chairman. “The engine” who thought it all up, and put this together, more than twenty years ago. She manages to bring together and galvanize grass roots people, and professionals, and enlightened successful business executives (who realize that when the people in the community are ok and doing well, they will support and bring dollars to anyone that has a product to sell). CCA says, “we provide housing, health, and hope.”

All of the above happened two weeks ago. Well, last night, we drove from Boston to New Haven, passing through some little towns, but mostly rural country side. Suddenly, like “snap your finger” magic, we were in this little well kept New England town, with shops and store fronts. One traffic light, a small church, and people scurrying around, in the evening hustle and bustle, as though it were the week before Christmas. Not realizing where we really were, I said out loud, “what an amazing little town. It feels so good.” That’s when it dawned on me that we were, in fact, New Haven, Connecticut… Yale University. No wonder!  I had some how totally disconnected Yale from New Haven. And maybe the connection was never very strong, as I’m one of those Mid West guys, now living in California.

“Let’s go to the next morning,” I looked out my window, at the grassy quadrangle, in the center of campus, with it’s familiar X like walking paths… so gorgeous now, in autumn, with leaves turning to gold, red, and orange. The buildings were stately red brick and stone structures, that truly are, in fact, covered with ivy. There’s an old church steeple, in fact, too, right on campus. In my mind, I could hear their bells, peeling at vesper.

Abra Cadabra! Well, here it was, the model for the great classic “halls of ivy” universities campuses. The model for all of America, and patterned after the great universities of Europe. This is Ivy League! The famed Ivy League. Looking at it, you see Notre Dame, and UC Berkley, U of I (Indiana or Illinois), this is the model. Even my little Alma Mater “Ripon”. As quadrangle crosswalks surrounded by red brick buildings with ivy, and a nearby church steeple. Classic, dignified, stately! And this university is certainly one of the wealthiest communities, business or educational in the world.

Abra Cadabra! Moments later, as we drove to sound check, a whole new reality came crashing in on me. In the really small center of town, there were homeless people, looking disheveled, needing a bath, food, and a place to sleep. IT’S EVERYWHERE! This is downtown Detroit, this is downtown Chicago, this is downtown Miami, it’s everywhere. The homeless, the unemployed, the sick, and tonight we would do a benefit concert for Reverend Bonita Grubbs. The Reverend, Ms. Grubbs, who speaks to the very obvious and apparent community of marginalized Americans. All of this today was predicted by what she saw then. It’s everywhere. In short, these are symptoms of a really broad failing at the highest levels of thinking and planning and concern, and believe me, it has trickled down.

But boy, oh boy, we had a wonderful time, playing and singing music together, and truly rejoicing in our certainty of direction, as we celebrated this notion of people helping people.

Local DJ, Ed Tankus from Blue Plate Radio, the gentleman I had talked to two weeks prior was there, smiling like a proud papa. He gets it, and got it.

The band played their hearts out, and the audience stood and cheered, and we had a meet and greet on the balcony of the theater. We even talked about doing this again next year, I said, “Call me!”

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