Somewhere between my final interview question as a freelance reporter for Patch and exiting the independent movie theatre on North Dale Mabry Highway in October 2012, a movement was born.
I had simply asked why Tampa Pitcher Show didn’t present spoken word poetry and then eagerly volunteered to host a poetry showcase three months later.
I probably should have realized that despite Tampa Pitcher Show donating the use of their venue, no experience combined with a zero budget for advertising for an all-volunteer event would be a painfully slow registration process. I probably should have given up.
I choose the name Life Amplified because spoken words poets amplify telling a story, whatever topic they might present. I created a logo and a website filled with information and a registration page.
The charity I selected was Redefining Refuge fighting against human trafficking. Natasha Nascimento was in the process of opening a home for rescued trafficked women and children and was the perfect recipient for the show’s proceeds.
In early December, through the use of the website, Facebook, other social media and free press release sites, the event began to build momentum and other performers -not just spoken word poets- asked to perform.
The inaugural show opened on January 19, 2013 with 2 singers, 9 poets, a comedian/impressionist Eddie Webber and a mind-reader Justin Myer.
At the end of show, I was asked by an audience member, “so when’s the next one?”
I’ve since opened the showcase to all variety acts and I no longer have to wait months for performers. The next show filled in days and my last two shows filled in hours.
My May show Life Amplified STOPH8 focused on bully-prevention benefiting Teen Edge Be-YOU-ty Camp. Hosted by ABC Action News Consumer Update’s Kellie Lightbourn, Life Amplified STOPH8 had 19 child and adult performers, featuring UAAMUSIC’s Mikel Soulhop.
My September showcase Life Amplified SALUTES featured the local improv troupe Nine and Numb, child comedian Nicole Lauren, and 20 performances that honored American Veterans and did a raffle for K-9s for Veterans, raising nearly $500.
Life Amplified METAMORPHOSIS, the anniversary show on January 25, 2014 highlighted only adult performers as the platform was sexual violence prevention, the recipient the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s Take Back the Night event. Both the Sexual Violence Task Force and ASK… A Survivor’s Key had displays set up to let the community know the services available to them. The improv troupe Post Dinner Conversation and mind-reader Justin Myer were joined a dozen poets, singers, and comedians – several who returned from the inaugural show.
My May showcase Life Amplified KIDZHELPINGKIDZ sold-out at our new venue, the award-winning Carrollwood Players Theatre, 4333 Gunn Highway, and was unique that it only featured children – a child emcee and performers, 6 to 17 years old. Life Amplified was recognized as Fox 13 TV’s Hometown Hero and was hosted by Bricks for the Brave, Tampa chapter to help raise funds for pediatric cancer patients.
Logan Agnew collects gift cards for purchasing Legos as well as new boxes of Legos throughout the year for distribution to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital during the holidays.
Life Amplified KIDZHELPINGKIDZ was hosted by Logan and 8 and a half year old comedian Nicole Lauren headlined. Nicole has been doing comedy in Florida and New York for over 3 years.
During this family-friendly showcase, 13 year old Elizabeth Covais, a motivational speaker at local and national cancer organizations, shared her unique perspective on being the older sibling of a Leukemia survivor.
Emceed by comedian SomeGuyNamedFrank, with the help of over two dozen local poets, singers, dancers, and comedians, in September 2014, Life Amplified PAWS UP raised over $500 for the Animal Coalition of Tampa to help rebuild after arson.
I think what amazed me most through this journey was how eager people in my community were to help me help the selected local charity. Though the ages and experience levels of the talent range from beginner to professional, the performers all come together for the same reason – to educate about an important platform and to help a worthwhile cause.
Over the past year, three photographers Mick McNabb, Kyle Mould and James Geiger volunteered to capture the event. BridesnBlooms became our official florist to create beautiful arrangements for each showcase. Digital Printing Solutions, Carrollwood Copy Center, MinuteMan Press and Bay City Signs and Printing did not hesitate to print the program.
And for partners for our silent raffle, all I had to do was reach out into the community and ask for a donation. I was never told no.
Our third anniversary on Jan 24, 2015, Life Amplified EMPOWERS featured over a dozen singers, musicians, comedians, poets and a beat boxer. We even had a mind-reader that mesmerized our audience. Not only did we raise over $600 for Equusolutions helping military women dealing with Military Sexual Trauma, we were instrumental in getting a horse donated.
Between this show and CWP Laugh Off the night before, we raised over $900 for nonprofit venue home.
Join us on Saturday, September 19 at 130 at Carrollwood Players for Life Amplified SADDLE UP – two hours of spoken word and variety acts to benefit Casey’s Healing Hooves and their work with rescued horses with troubled teens, children and adults with mental and physical disabilities.
I am completely humbled by the amount of people who really care and want to be involved in these special events. I hate when I hear someone making the excuse, but I’m just one person, what can I do.
It only takes one person to make a difference and make an impact. I’ve discovered during this process, in the time it takes to make an excuse, you could be starting a movement.