A Living History Museum Providing Training for Successful Living in the Future

19 Jan

Living History MuseumDo historical museums bore you? Walking from room-to-room seeing pieces of paper and objects from times long since passed, feeling cold and impersonal. What if a museum were more like theatre? If you could actually meet the people who the possessions belonged to and hear their stories? If this sounds interesting to you, well, I’ve found the perfect place. It’s called the Bremer Geschichtenhaus (Bremer Story House), in Bremen, Germany, and it’s not only a combination of a museum and live theatre, but most of the “employees” are either volunteers, or are found through “bras eV”, an employment and job-training agency (through governmental support) which works with the local government to help the jobless and homeless get back on their feet.

When people file for assistance they’re connected to bras eV which provides a variety of classes, training and life-planning programs. Their methodology for Life/Work Planning is based on “What, Where and How.” The “What” is an analysis of a person’s abilities based on a detailed biography. The “Where” helps them figure out in what industry and which companies they might like to work and be a good fit. And the “How” helps them research which companies have positions which might suit their interests and qualifications as well as understand which skills they need to further develop and how to go about applying successfully.

But where does the Bremer Geschichtenhaus fit in? In its most basic form, it gives employees what’s known as a “1 Euro Job.” While it pays only slightly more than €1, it’s the term used for a low-paying job that’s not meant to be permanent, but a transitional job to gain confidence and skills. And that’s what the Bremer Geschichtenhaus unquestionably does.

I met Herman who has worked there for exactly one-year. His journey began five-years ago when his father died. He was a truck driver and stayed home to take care of his mother. He lived with her until she went to a care facility which is when his brother stopped paying the rent on the rental house they were living in and Herman’s life began falling apart. He ended up homeless for four-months before seeking help at a mission. As is the norm, they housed him for six-months (it allows for people to get their heads together and try to get back on their feet on their own). After six-months his case-worker sent him to the museum. He enjoys what he does as he has interaction with visitors and learns new skills all the time. He plays the part of historical figures of Bremerhaven and likes performing a variety of roles which bring history to life.

I also had the opportunity to meet Silke who’s been working at the Bremer Geschichtenhaus for four months. After losing her job, her apartment and her boyfriend, all within a two-week period, her life also fell apart. She started working at the Bremer Geschichtenhaus in October and found it difficult at first. She felt overwhelmed by the regular schedule and expectations. This is a basic part of the training that the Bremer Geschichtenhaus provides – training people to stick to a regular schedule and be on time for work. It can be difficult when you’ve lost your self-esteem.

The Bremer Geschichtenhaus, which opened in 2006, is the brainchild of business partners Sara and Mick. Prior to opening the Geschichtenhaus, Sara worked in theatre as a director. When she was approached to be a part of the Geschichtenhaus, she thought it was a crazy idea that just might work. She decided to take a chance and join in the project to open a living history museum which could entertain and inform while assisting to help those in need. It was a win/win situation. While Sara handles the performance side, Mick deals with the business side including the partnership with the bras job center. They also employ three other full time people who help run the place.

Coffee MerchantThe shows cover the time period from 1635 until just before WWI. The performers tell the stories of the characters they portray who might be a coffee-maker, for which Bremen is well-known, or Heini Holtenbeen, who walked with a pronounced limp due to an accident. As he could no longer complete his apprenticeship, he made a career out of collecting the discarded stubs of cigars in the market square and selling the tobacco as pipe tobacco. You’ll “meet” the adventurous fish merchant, Fish Lucie, as well as Bremen’s most famous poisoner, Gifts Gottfried. Known as the “Angel of Bremen” she was convicted of poisoning fifteen people using arsenic-laced butter and her execution was the last public one held in the square. The stories are informative and entertaining with a little comedy thrown in. And audience members can actually ask the characters questions about their lives and the times. On Fridays they have shows in English.

The museum receives approximately 30% of its funding through paid admissions and pays 30% of the wages to employees referred through bras, while bras pays the rest.

The Bremer Geschichtenhaus is located in the heart of the Schnoor District of Bremen and welcomes visitors daily. They also have programs for school groups as well as catered private parties. They appreciate volunteers to help with general administrative duties, guest relations, catering and even performing. And they’re grateful for any donations which assist in operating costs such as costuming, laundry, rent and general needs. Please visit their website listed below for all information.

Bremer Geschichtenhaus website: http://www.bremer-geschichtenhaus.de/

Bremer Geschichtenhaus website (in English): http://translate.google.de/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.bremer-geschichtenhaus.de/&prev=search

To donate or volunteer, please contact: fruchtmann-bras-bremen.de

Are you in Bremen, Germany, and need help getting back on your feet? Contact: http://bras-bremen.de/

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Helping the Environment and Sea Turtles – Easy as a Walk on the Beach

6 Nov
Akumal Sea Turtle Nest

Guillermo and a sea turtle nest

On the most recent Drop Me Anywhere trip to Mexico, I had the opportunity to walk the beach in Akumal with Guillermo, from Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA). No, we weren’t just walking for exercise, or to enjoy the beautiful view (which it was), we were inspecting the nests filled with sea turtle eggs which are scattered along the beach just waiting to hatch. Along the way, I learned about the great work CEA does, the disagreements amongst environmentalists about the best way to help the sea turtles, or even if they need help at all, and how regular people can get involved. We even saved one from a crab attack!

Who are they? CEA was formed in 1993 by the Akumal Yacht Club, whose shareholders put their four hectares of property on Akumal Bay into a trust to generate funds and provide infrastructure for environmental initiatives to protect Akumal’s coastal and marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Different than many other conservation organizations, CEA rents out some of its property to local businesses and, therefore, retains administrative control of the property, which also allows for donations made to CEA to go directly towards conservation.

What do they do? CEA’s mission is to produce and promote strategies for ecosystem management in Akumal, through research, education and policy, for sustainability in the Mexican Caribbean. These programs include:

–      Coastal Ecosystems Program – the objective is to promote the protection and conservation of the coastal ecosystems through ecosystem monitoring, information sharing and management. It consists of Reef Monitoring and Research, Bay Monitoring and Patrol, Management and Maintenance, and Outreach and Environmental Education.

Akumal Bay–      Sea Turtle Program – the objective is to protect the nesting female turtles and their hatchlings, raising awareness among visitors and residents on sea turtle biology and conservation measures. As Akumal means “Place of the Turtle,” this program is a huge focus of CEA. The sea turtle population is of vital importance to tourism, as many come to Akumal in order to snorkel with the sea turtles (in their natural habitat). It’s a delicate balance in which CEA works as a go between in order to ensure a fun and educational experience for tourists, as well as protecting the sea turtles from negative human behaviors which may endanger their future well-being. During nesting season, CEA staff and volunteers patrol the beaches of Akumal in search of nesting females and hatchlings. Their activities include protecting and tagging females, obtaining scientific data, in extreme cases, relocating eggs to more favorable locations, and hatchling releases. The data collected is used to determine how many nests were achieved, behavior, distribution and abundance. Their work includes taking tourists and visitors on these walks visitors to help teach them to respect nature and the life of sea turtles, to be more aware of other species, to learn to cohabitate with them and to help take care of their habitats.

Sea Turtles

Sea turtles hatching

–      Water Quality Program – the objective in addressing the water quality issues in the region is to dramatically reduce the amount of waste water reaching the sea. CEA works in watershed research and protection, and promotes improved wastewater treatment technologies. This is important due to the area’s highly-porous limestone rock, which is riddled with many fractures, underground rivers and caves. These are interconnected and, in some cases, channel fresh water out to sea, much like an above-ground river might in a coastal region. This is a very fragile aquifer and the quality of its waters has a direct impact on the Caribbean Sea and the coral reef ecosystem.

–      Sustainable Development Program– the objective is to influence development and lessen its impact on the local environment. CEA works with local hotels, condominiums and businesses to apply best practices for resource management. Business can become certified in Akumal and then may be listed on CEA’s website.

–      Environmental Education Program – the objective is to raise awareness among locals and visitors about the fragility of our ecosystems. They provide ecology classes in schools, summer school courses and visitor information in addition to the sea turtle beach walks.

–      Communication Program – Providing outreach to tourists, locals and the tourism sector, the Communication Program helps accomplish CEA’s mission by disseminating their research findings and information in order to be able to influence public policy and to help preserve the coastal environment. Through their Communication Program CEA works with writers, photographers, filmmakers, graphic artists, and anyone who can help getting word out about their important organization and programs.

Sea Turtle Nest

Sea turtle nest

How can you help? With office space and overhead provided by its property, CEA can dedicate funds from memberships, donations, and grants to cover expenses related to its specific conservation programs. Any donations are gratefully accepted. They also depend on volunteers, students and partnerships with many other organizations to carry out their work. If you’re planning a visit to Akumal, or the nearby cities of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, you can arrange a visit to CEA to learn more about the sea turtles and environmental issues in the area. If you’re there at the right time of year, you may also be able to participate in a nighttime beach walk where you may run across a sea turtle and have the chance to assist in nesting, tagging, or collecting data. At other times of the year you might have the chance to walk the beach with A CEA employee or volunteer in the morning in order to check on the up to 170 nests which are laid throughout the season.*

During your next trip to this area, I’d highly recommend a stop at Centro Ecológico Akumal. Please contact them through their website listed below and ask about their educational programs or even a beach walk. It’s a great family activity (they may even be able to arrange assistance for accessibility issues) which will make a positive impact on you, your kids, and the environment.

Crab*Note – while walking with my guide Guillermo, we noticed some holes in a nest. Suddenly, Guillermo dropped to his knees and began digging. Once he’d dug a few inches down, a crab scurried out of the nest. We dug further and saw that the eggs were intact. If the crab had made it to the eggs, it would most likely have punctured at least one, which would then attract ants that would demolish the shells and make their way into the eggs and destroy the developing turtles inside.

To learn more about the great work that CEA does, or to learn how you can help by donating or volunteering, please visit their website: http://www.ceakumal.org/

Literacy, Learning and Love

21 Oct

On the most recent Drop Me Anywhere trip I had the privilege of volunteering with an incredible organization. The Hekab Be Biblioteca is officially the library in Akumal, Mexico, unofficially, it’s a central location for the children of this town of about 1300 (according to a 2010 census) to learn, play and socialize.Reading at the Library

The history of the library is quite interesting; opened in 1994 by Brenda Dettering, an American woman married to a Mexican man and living in Akumal. Her idea was to open a library which, as part of the curriculum, offered locals an opportunity to learn English. This wasn’t an American coming in with the idea that everyone should speak English because she did. She was doing it because, due to Akumal’s proximity to the resort cities of Cancun and now, Playa del Carmen (twenty-years ago Playa was not the booming tourist destination it is now), a person who knows English as well as Spanish can double their earning potential. Brenda planned to begin teaching English to women, as this would provide the knowledge and skill for them to be independent and have more options for their future, and then expand the offering to anyone in the community who wished to participate. What she found was that a great deal of the population of Akumal could neither read nor write in Spanish, let alone in English. It was then that she adjusted her focus.

Michelangelo

Estefani painting in an art class where the children learned about Michelangelo

Currently, the Hekab Be Biblioteca serves  a total of about eighty kids in addition to any adults in the community who wish to come and check out books, which are offered in both English and Spanish, or participate in programs. The concentration of the library tends to be on the children for many reasons; it’s important to provide early intervention for literacy as children pick up languages much easier. Also, rural Kid playingpublic schools are overcrowded and severely in need of more resources and qualified staff members. In addition, many adults are working during the day and the library provides an after-school program as well as a playground to allow for a safe environment for the kids to just be kids. Finally, as most parents know, school has costs associated with it; parents must pay for supplies, uniforms and books. Some parents can’t afford these fees and the library can be the next best thing. The ultimate goal of the Hekab Be Biblioteca is “to offer classes in English, music, art, environmental education, and yoga, as well as homework help. To keep the children learning and excited about learning so they will do all they can to stay in school and have the opportunity for whatever future they desire to pursue.”

Anne

Anne and “her kids”

Anne Gabbert works at the Hekab Be Biblioteca. Officially she is the Director; unofficially she’s the teacher, librarian, fundraiser, psychologist, social worker, mom, bus driver, volunteer coordinator and mentor. After years visiting Akumal, in 2010, she arrived to stay and got a job teaching English at the local school. The following year, two parents told her about the library, and, in 2013, Anne began her job there. She also works a second job at a local reservations company in order to make ends meet. Anne arrives each afternoon and, at 2:30, she heads off in her personal SUV to drive around town and collect upwards of thirty-five children from their houses to deliver them to the library (it takes three to five trips as there are sometimes many more kids). At 5:15 she begins the process all over again to deliver the children back home, dropping each one directly at their house. And while some of the kids live in decent apartments, others live in wooden and tin structures which can only be described as shacks. The after-school program begins at 2:00 and some of the kids’ parents are able to bring their children there on their own. Anne would be the first to tell you that, while her salary is minimal, the rewards she gets from working at the library make her a rich woman. She is assisted at the library by Angel, Lety and Tere, three locals who help supervise the kids, but speak only Spanish.

The library has traditionally been open all day, however, due to a lack of staff that can be there and speak English, it’s currently open only in the afternoon (Anne is at her second job in the morning).

Recipe

Vegetable Soup Recipe from the Cooking/English class.

The Hekab Be Biblioteca is solely supported by donations. “What do these donations go to?” you ask. Well, cash donations go to day-to-day expenses including: bottled water for the children, electric and water bills, cleaning supplies, copies, food supplies for cooking classes, employee salaries, etc.

As far as non-monetary donations go, the need is quite extensive. They accept a variety of items including books (Spanish and English), as well as art, school and sports supplies. They also accept items to sell at their bazaar/yard sale which they hold three times per year, and are always happy to receive donations of gently used clothes, shoes, toys, etc. The kids’ clothes and shoes sell fast as they are quite expensive in Akumal and not very well made.

Anne also tells me, “We love to have visitors come and share their experiences, and also any type of handyman kind of work is appreciated. We had a plumber come and put in a new sink, we would love to have folks come and repaint, and just spending time with the children like you did is awesome.” Volunteers also help teach the children English (as I did a bit of one-on-one) or, if there are enough expats there for a six-week class, Anne organizes adult classes.

Kids in Hats

Volunteering at the library

I’ve included links to the Hekab Be Biblioteca website and Facebook below. Through these links, you can find out more about this incredible place and how you can help. I can tell you from personal experience, this place will change you. I had planned to spend a few hours here, I ended up spending part of each day for five days. And you can read more about my personal experience volunteering at the Hekab Be Biblioteca on Drop Me Anywhere beginning with “Child’s Play.

Hekab Be Biblioteca Website

Hekab Be Biblioteca Facebook Page

Celebrating Pride

17 Aug

I’ve always been a big supporter of equal rights. Not gay rights, not women’s rights, not African American or Latino or any other groups’ rights. Simply equal rights for all. On this last Drop Me Anywhere trip, I had the unique opportunity to support people who just want to be treated equally. I worked with ILoveLimerick.com and their film crew spending four hours running around Limerick, Ireland filming scenes for a promotional video announcing the 2014 Limerick Pride Festival.

FilmingHow did Limerick Pride come about? Well, it began with the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ireland in 1993 (unbelievably recent). But due to violence and the general non-acceptance of people who identify as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer), there were no celebrations and it was generally not spoken about. Finally, in 2002, a weekend of events was held. It was small, but it was a beginning. In 2004, the first Pride Parade was held in Limerick with six people walking up O’Connell Street. Steadily it grew.

In 2007, the first Official Pride March was held and included Limerick Pride’s first float. Much different than the 2004 parade, this march also included the University of Limerick Students Union marching behind their banner, as well as an art exhibition. In 2008, Richard Lynch, Founder and Manager of ILoveLimerick.com joined the party and with him came mainstream involvement. By 2013, Limerick Pride had grown to a week-long event with an attendance of thousands.

I Love Limerick Richard Lynch

Richard Lynch, Celine, Madonna and Sheila

This year, Limerick Pride Week kicks off on August 24th with Pride in the Park, which will include a dog show, sports, kids’ entertainment and music, along with an official opening ceremony in the evening. It continues on Monday with HIV testing, and a presentation and discussion on hate crimes. Other events throughout the week include political debates, a wedding fair, sexual health, sexual empowerment and coming out workshops. But it’s not all serious business at Limerick Pride Week. There will be BINGO, a Mr. and Mrs. Gay Limerick contest, a “Twas the Night Before” party, Pridefest and, of course, the official Limerick Pride Parade, which takes place at 2:00pm on Saturday, August 30th. Limerick Pride Week has become so large that the events are too numerous to mention. Please click here for the full schedule.

Limerick Pride is a volunteer led, not for profit collective, working to promote positive visibility of LGBTQ people and their community in Limerick. The goal of the Limerick LGBTQ Pride Festival is to promote ‘EQUALITY, LOVE, DIVERSITY, CELEBRATION.’

Limerick Pride Promo Video Crew

Limerick Pride 2014 Promo Video Crew

You can find out more information about Limerick Pride and Pride Week at http://limerickpride.ie/

To learn more about ILoveLimeric.com please go to their website at http://www.ilovelimerick.ie/

Corresponding Drop Me Anywhere story of the filming at http://dropmeanywhere.com/2014/07/29/limerick-is-a-drag/

Limerick Pride Week 2014 will be celebrated August 24-August 31.

All photos copyright of Dolf Patijn 2014

Dignity, It’s What’s for Dinner

6 Jun Song Lyrics

 

When you think of a “soup kitchen” what comes to mind? A bunch of sad looking people carrying trays while making their way down a line while workers in net caps spoon ladles of food onto plastic plates? That’s exactly what Josie McCarthy disliked about them. Well, that and the name “soup kitchen.” “It’s their (the customers’) food too,” she says. “And they haven’t served soup since the 1940’s.”

On the last Drop Me Anywhere trip I had the honor of volunteering at The Dining Room, a restaurant serving those in a current state of poverty. Part of FOOD for Lane County’s Family Dinner Program, The Dining Room is a unique venue which serves the homeless population, or simply those having severe financial difficulty, in a respectful, restaurant-like atmosphere.

Josie McCarthy is the Program Manager of the Family Dinner Program and the catalyst for The Dining Room. FOOD for Lane County ran your typical soup kitchen out of a school in Eugene, Oregon until 2004 when they moved to their current location. While they had a new location, they were still struggling to serve the population they had hoped. In 2005, Josie was brought in to try to make it work. She fought for five years to turn the program from a soup kitchen to a restaurant model. The Dining Room began serving food in a restaurant atmosphere in 2010.

When guests arrive, they are given a reservation. When seats become available, they are invited in, five at a time, wherever they like and are immediately offered water, milk, juice or coffee. They are then offered a full meal with a main course and healthy side dishes. During their meal, a volunteer comes through with a dessert tray offering a variety of cakes and pies.

The Dining Room serves a variety of guests from families with young children to elderly people, including a 90 year-old woman with mental illness who lives on the streets and has been a customer for 9 years. The staff and volunteers really get to know their guests; Josie mentions that this woman has beautiful handwriting, but the woman has also expressed her embarrassment for where her life has ended up.

There are also quite a few success stories; guests love to come in and share their successes with the staff and volunteers, who love to hear them. Josie tells me of one woman, a widow in her late-fifties, who had lost her housing and was living in her car in the wintertime. She had a full-time job at a fast food restaurant but, as housing can be quite expensive in Eugene, she found herself homeless. She was working to save enough money for first and last month’s rent. She came to eat at The Dining Room and, when she returned to her car, she realized she had locked herself out. She returned to The Dining Room in distress as she couldn’t get into her “home.” The staff chipped in to hire a locksmith to gain access to her car. A few months later she came in and said, “Do you remember me?” Of course they did. She went on to tell them that she had found an apartment and wanted to let them how grateful she was for their help.

The food The Dining Room serves is provided through FOOD for Lane County. To improve the atmosphere, expired flowers are provided by Market of Choice and Trader Joe’s, and artwork painted by customers decorates the walls. As many of the homeless have dogs, The Dining Room provides crates outside and food for their guests’ canine companions.

IMG_1209

The Dining Room has 367 volunteers of which 25 per-day work to serve meals to those having financial challenges. Between them, they work 800 volunteer hours per month. The Dining Room is open Monday through Thursday from 1:00pm-4:00pm. During these hours they serve up to 300 people per day.

When asked what people can do if they want to help, Josie says that people should advocate for a restaurant model food site. No more soup kitchens. Her goal, she says, is “educating people that these people are their neighbors.” The only extra resources the restaurant model uses over the traditional soup kitchens is a few more volunteers. Oh, they could also use some silverware, paper towels, salt and pepper and hot sauce.

The first word that came to my mind during my day volunteering there was “dignity.” Often people feel that treating people less fortunate with less respect will encourage them to change their situation. Most of these people would like nothing more than to change their situation, but mental or physical health challenges, abusive home lives, loss of a job or simply bad decisions have landed them in an unfortunate situation. Besides the food, the respect provided by The Dining Room helps their guests in their fight to change their circumstances. As one customer put it, “The main ingredient in their food is kindness.”

To find out more about The Dining Room, go to their website at FOOD for Lane County Family Dinner Program. You can also find out more about FOOD For Lane County through this website.

Song Lyrics

 

This Time I’m Asking for Your Help

31 Mar Book Logo

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Masonic Temple and the Spirit of Newfoundland’s effort to preserve the historic building. I’ve received great feedback about the stories on www.DropMeAnywhere.com as well as the profile on www.Rebel-With-A-Cause.org. The feedback has been so encouraging that I’ve decided there’s a book in this. And writing a book is exactly what I plan to do. But I’ll need your help.

I’m announcing my Kickstarter campaign to assist with the funding of this book. You’ll note that I said “assist with the funding” as I’ve already spent money on the project and will continue to spend more. But just as the website is a partnership between me and the readers, the book will also be a partnership.

On each Drop Me Anywhere trip I find a local project or organization to spend a day, or part of a day volunteering with. I then profile them on Rebel-With-A-Cause.org and let you know more about what they do, who they help and how you can get involved. They’ll also have their stories in the book.

As you may know, Rebel-With-A Cause began with my wish to help others who were struggling. My hope was to not only give them money, but to give them a voice. I connected Rebel and Drop Me Anywhere with that same hope of giving those people and organizations a voice.

The writing of this book is different than so many others. I can’t go to a day job and come home at night to research and write. I believe in this book, but cannot finance it on my own. While I do some writing on the side for some corporate clients and news media, the pay is not enough to finance this book. I’ve worked really hard these last few years and saved money. Still, this will cost more than my savings will allow.

I’m passionate about donating my time and money to worthy causes. It’s difficult for me to ask for it but, this time, I’m asking you to consider my cause. It will not only help me to complete the book and get it published, but it will help me continue to help others.

If you’ve not already done so, you can read more about the project on the Drop Me Anywhere announcement post here on Rebel-With-A-Cause and on the Drop Me Anywhere About page. You can also read the posts from the first Drop Me Anywhere trip beginning with Oh Canada. And, of course, make sure you vote on my next trip.

I hope you’ll consider pledging to the Drop Me Anywhere Kickstarter campaign. I’m offering some great rewards. While I had hoped for some of the rewards to include volunteering for your chosen charity, Kickstarter doesn’t allow this. All I can say is that Drop Me Anywhere will continue to have a philanthropic element with me volunteering on each trip and profiling the projects and organizations.

Please share the Kickstarter campaign with others. It ends on May 1 and, if I don’t reach the goal by then, I receive none of the funding. This time, you get to make a difference.

 

 

Preserving History in St. John’s

24 Feb

Masonic Temple

As I mentioned in the previously, the latest project on Rebel-With-A-Cause is a partnership with Drop Me Anywhere. While Drop Me Anywhere is dedicated to readers participating in choosing where I travel without a plan, it also includes a philanthropic element in which I spend a day, or part of a day, volunteering with a local organization, person or effort and then profile them here. So here’s the first:

Photo from the 1894 laying of the cornerstone

Photo from the 1894 laying of the cornerstone

I’d like to introduce you to Kathie Hicks and Peter Halley, the owners of the Masonic Temple in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The cornerstone of the building was laid on August 23, 1894 with many dignitaries present for the big event. For over 100 years the building housed the secret society of the Free Masons. The Masonic Temple was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in April 1995. Peter and Kathie bought the building on February 14, 2008 with the intent to preserve this preserve it and house the Spirit of Newfoundland Productions which would provide food, entertainment and a general event venue to downtown St. John’s. So far, they’ve succeeded in most of their plan. The Spirit of Newfound Productions hosts wonderful events and dinner-shows for the local community of St. John’s and surrounding communities.

Spirit of Newfoundland Productions

Spirit of Newfoundland Productions

The one thing they’re still working on is the preservation of the building. Peter and Kathie have worked hard on the inside rooms (and there are many of them). Spirit of Newfoundland Productions performs avariety of musical and comedy dinner shows in the downstairs showroom but, once they bring the upstairs up to code, they have plans to move the show upstairs. This part of the renovation will be fully funded by Peter and Kathie and their business.

The outside of the building is another story. While the plan was for the business to pay for all renovations, inside and out, it became clear that the cost of preserving the outside would be prohibitive. At nearly $500,000, they’re hoping for some support. They are currently in the process of developing fundraisers to finance this effort. Planned fundraising opportunities include a series of concerts and the sale of some specially designed memorabilia (possibly key-chains and/or memento boxes).

Masonic Eye in the ceiling

Masonic Eye in the ceiling

In addition, in one of the many hidden rooms they have discovered hidden treasures. Approximately 2,000 original bricks were found in the basement. One of the planned fundraisers is to sell some of these historic bricks. Each weighs nearly five pounds and is over 100 years old. They’ll be mounted and sold individually in person and online. Bricks will be mailed or delivered by courier. There will only be about 1,000 rectangular bricks for sale as the odd-shaped and angular bricks will be used on the building itself.

Entrance to the dungeon

Entrance to the dungeon

Kathie and Peter are passionate about this building and feel it’s important to preserve it and not have it turned into another condominium complex. After touring the inside, I agree. They’re also passionate about Newfoundland as you can see in the song lyrics below. A song they wrote which closes each show at the Masonic Temple.

You can find out more about this historic building here. To find out how you can buy bricks and other fundraising items, or get tickets to concerts and events contact Spirit of Newfoundland.

The Spirit of Newfoundland                                                                                                                                                                              (Written by Peter Halley & Kathie Hicks)

It doesn’t matter where you come from                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn’t matter where you’ve been.                                                                                                                                                                         It’s our spirit and our culture that keeps us all within                                                                                                                                        One big family together that is powered form above,                                                                                                                                            We are rich no matter what we owe                                                                                                                                                                               We have each other’s love                                                                                                                                                                                              We have our rocky shores and mighty seas                                                                                                                                                               Our rolling fog and salt sea breeze                                                                                                                                                                                We are a people proud and strong                                                                                                                                                                          From Newfoundland and Labrador.

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