The psalmist writes, "How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!"
Community spirit and unity shone in the production of Church Basement Ladies at the Sandusky State Theatre on Feb. 12, and in all the preparations made for it.
It was the theatre's executive director, Thomas Kazmierczak, who got wind of the show, put two and two together, and decided to turn it into a fundraiser event for the community. Mr. Kazmierczak contacted those who had helped bring Elisabeth von Trapp to Sandusky for a benefit for Care and Share previously, and the decision was that, this time around, Firelands Habitat for Humanity would be the beneficiary.
Sandusky Area Lutherans in Mission, a voluntary coalition of eight congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Erie County, was given the ball, and SALM ran with it. With church garage sales, community meals, and other events including a soccer match, SALM volunteers raised well over the $10,000 needed for Firelands Habitat to enter into the deal with the Theatre. In return, Habitat will get a significant portion of the proceeds on the show once the books on the production are closed. Not one cent of Habitat's own money was needed.
With times as they have been for the past year or so, the triage of charity dollars has better assisted organizations providing immediate and direct relief to those in need. The work of Habitat is much longer in term. The united effort of the Sandusky State Theatre, the congregations of SALM, and the patrons who bought tickets (and laughed their way through the whole show!) helped revive interest in Habitat's work in Erie and Huron Counties. Further, the cooperation among all concerned has fostered new and exciting relationships among us, relationships that could lead to more such ventures down the road.
So, Thomas, keep your eyes on the sequel! Lurking somewhere in Minnesota is Church Basement Ladies 2 -- A Second Helping.
Perhaps, despite the bumps and potholes along the way, in bringing the first course to Sandusky, we have created a template for more benefit performances in the future.
Philip A. Gardner
Pastoral Advisor, Sandusky Area Lutherans in Mission