Monday, April 25, 2011

An Afternoon that Made Laughter Count for Friends In Deed

Once upon a time a group of smart, talented, funny, kinda' crazy and good souled people got together to form Make Laughter Count. While our primary goal is to integrate musical and comedic talent into programs to stop bullying, our secondary goal is to coordinate fundraising events for organizations whose population has experienced bullying, and where laughter is part of the program.

Recently, we had our first run at coordinating an event for Friends in Deed. They are brilliant and their work has had such a profound impact on the lives of many. Not unlike how the correct formula for concrete is worthwhile to cement in your mind, it is worthwhile to note Friends in Deed’s vision, mission and values:

VISION: Friends In Deed’s vision is a world where no one with a life-threatening illness is frightened and alone... where those overwhelmed by illness, caregiving and grief find support... and where death is not viewed as a failure but as a natural part of the cycle of life.

MISSION: To provide pragmatic emotional and spiritual support for all those affected by life threatening illness, caregiving and grief.

VALUES: Walking the Talk, Authenticity, Integrity, and Accountability.

When I first read their vision, mission and values, and visited their NYC office off hours, I felt a sense of peace. It’s almost like a Zen, spiritual spa. Upon meeting Robert McNamara and Michael Cohen of Friends in Dead I had this sense that they really do live their organization’s vision, mission and values. They too have a Zen Master quality about them. As I got to know them I felt like the Universe is fully aligned with them and the work that they do.

Little did I know that laughter is a big part of the Friends in Deed culture – so it isn’t just about grieving, 'peacing' out, Zen, somber stuff! I asked Robert if laughter is part of the culture of Friends in Deed. When the question was posed, his whole body language changed into this kind of bouncy bundle of joy wrapped in the body of a managing director. He shared that often group sessions at 594 Broadway sound more like a comedy club and people outside their office have trouble reconciling the laughter with the subject matter. Make Laughter Count and Friends in Deed share, among other things, the belief in the healing power of laughter.

We decided to coordinate an Afternoon of Outrageous Laughter at the Gotham Comedy Club to raise funds for them. On Palm Sunday. Oops.

This was the first time our group of smart, talented, funny, kinda’ crazy and good souled people got together to do an event. We came across a few hurdles, and like someone with contact lens problems, we eventually found a solution. At the end of the day, we had a great crowd, made some great new friends and look forward to planning a bigger and better event for benefit of Friends in Deed again.

And…while by no means am I a “comic”, I can deliver a joke and tell a bad pun. The day before the event, we noodled through what we could do to entertain the crowd before the show, and if possible squeeze and extra dollar or two out of our guests. The solution? Yours truly hung a sign around my neck that said: “Knock Knock Jokes and Bad Puns: $1 each”. I worked the room for 20 minutes and made $60 to add to the benefit. Not too bad.

So, since most who read this were likely not there:
Knock Knock.

Who is there?


Hannah who?

Hannah-over some money to Friends in Deed and Make Laughter Count!

-Robert Strand

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