From an all-volunteer cabaret to help kids to a costume party that celebrates a Jewish holiday while supporting LGBT rights, the weekend of March 9-10 will be busy with benefits.
CHRIS Kids, a local provider of housing and services programs for youth, will host its Seasons of Love cabaret benefit March 9-10 at the 14th Street Playhouse.
The annual event, celebrating its 10th year, features cabaret singing and dancing from an all-volunteer cast and crew over two nights.
This year’s event, “Encore! The Best of 10 Years of Seasons of Love,” will relive many of the best moments of the fundraiser’s history. Some 35 numbers will be performed, ranging from pop to Motown to Broadway classics, says JD Kellum, a CHRIS Kids boardmember and performer in the cabaret.
“Many of the numbers will be highlights from years past,” Kellum says.
Kellum says that the annual benefit is one of the main highlights of the organization’s yearly calendar of events. CHRIS Kids provides a variety of services, including counseling, group homes and transitional independent living programs, for at-risk children, teens and young adults — including LGBT youth.
The event, which began humbly, has grown over the years.
“It started at St. Mark with maybe just 100 people,” Kellum said. “It’s grown over the years. One year we had it at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech. The last two years have been near-sellout crowds at 14th St. Playhouse.”
Seasons of Love and the annual Premiere Party are both organized by CHRIS Kids’ OUTreach Committee, Kellum says.
“That’s the great thing about CHRIS Kids and the outreach committee, we’re trying to build a bridge between the gay and straight communities to benefit the children,” Kellum adds.
This year’s benefit is the last “annual” event for the cabaret fundraiser, though there may be reunion shows in the future, Kellum says.
Tickets for this year’s event range from $41 for individual entrants to $100 for VIP access. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the CHRIS Kids website. All of the proceeds from ticket sales and donations made at the fundraiser will go to benefit the organization.
“We’re providing a hand-up, not a handout,” Kellum says. “These are kids that are 17 to 24 that are homeless or leaving the adoption system. We’re able to provide this home environment. It’s as nice as any apartment community in Midtown.”
For Kellum, volunteering with CHRIS Kids has been a way to give back.
“It’s my way of giving back and paying it forward what was wrong in my life,” Kellum said. “Had I had the fortitude to come out to my family at 16, I would have been thrown out on the street. If I can help provide that environment to a kid and change someone’s life on that level, it’s very rewarding.”
Kellum came out to his parents when he was 29 and they were not supportive, he adds.
“It’s difficult, but it can define you or destroy you and it’s your choice. These kids don’t have a choice. It does get better, regardless of your background,” Kellum says.
“Knowing that we’ve changed one life and that we can unlock the potential of one child, that one ripple could create a wave, and that wave can be life-changing in a community, not just an individual. It’s inspiring to hear these stories of kids who have overcome great adversity to actually succeed.”
Seasons of Love has raised more than $350,000 in its 10-year history, according to Kellum. CHRIS Kids hopes to bring in $60,000 from this year’s fundraiser.