This week I had the pleasure of talking with Mrs. Chase Andrews, Executive Director of VARIETY OF GEORGIA – TENT 21. For those unfamiliar with this organization here is a brief description:
“Tent 21 was established in Atlanta in 1939 as the 21st chapter of the Variety Clubs International, which is known as “The World’s Greatest Children’s Charity” and “The Heart of Show Business.” Following the tradition of the founders of the first Tent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 80% of the members of Tent 21 currently are from the Motion Picture Industry, though membership is open to all who care about children.
Our mission is to aid and enhance the lives of children in need who may be challenged by physical and/or mental disabilities, poverty, abuse or neglect. The vernacular of the circus is employed in the Variety structure with the clubs often called “Tents” and the members “Barkers” since the first fundraising affair in Pittsburgh used the circus motif and was held under a “Big Top” tent with a sawdust floor.
Following the tradition of the founders of the first Tent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 80% of the members of Tent 21 currently are from the Motion Picture Industry, though membership is open to all who care about children.”
This weekend Variety of Georgia’s third annual singing competition Stars of Tomorrow will take place at the Buckhead Theatre. It will feature 10 disabled and disadvantaged teens that will compete for the title of top vocalist. The 10 Stars of Tomorrow finalists are all from metro-Atlanta and will compete for a check for $2,500, a chance to perform on The Fox Theatre stage and a custom made demo CD from SAE Institute. The final competition will be on March 17.
Ms. Chase was a pleasure to talk to and a wealth of knowledge. Coming from Corp America and changing directions to help others in a non-profit goes back to her youth and her desire to be a nurse who worked with children. Special needs affected her personally when her first niece was born with congenital heart disease. While Chase knew she couldn’t cure her niece she wanted the best for her and was always finding ways on how she could help and give her more of a life. This has lead her to look at life differently and built a desire to help others. When asked how she got involved with Stars of Tomorrow, Chase explained how it was a perfect fit going back to the roots of Variety. Starting in 1928 with board members all coming from show business, thought it would be a fun fund-raising event. The shows really help to get public awareness and of course funds to help different programs they run. There are three great programs:
-Variety Freedom Program: FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE –
Access to mobility equipment and services to be free to experience
and explore life.
-Variety Caring For Kids Program: SUPPORT – Access to uncovered medical services and devices.
-Variety Future Kids Program: EDUCATIONAL – Access to educational tools for children with disabilities or disadvantages.
Chase spoke about lessons work life has taught her. For anyone, it can difficult to be a parent and she says it warms her heart to be around special needs parents. Chase feels they are some of the most patient people with the best souls. She loves to watch and see the relationship these parents have with their children and feels that others can learn a lot from them. One thing that really leaves an impression on her is the power these moms and dads have to fight for their kids. From my experience it gives a whole new meaning to the term “Mama Bear.”
Another great lesson is that of inclusion. For children to be taught early that everyone is different and all have different levels of abilities. But this doesn’t mean they are to be treated different or to be feared. And when asked if she were to give advice to families, parents or young ones it again would be that of inclusion. And not to be scared. Ask questions and engage with families of special needs. For this is not only encouraging but can be a learning experience for both parties.
Tickets for Variety Stars of Tomorrow are still available and can be purchased: https://starsoftomorrow.ticketbud.com/variety-stars-of-tomorrow
Via Macaroni Kid