Hippie Ball nails art of altruism

by Matt Corpening
Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Staff photo by Emmy Errante 

Ben Hooks, British Taxi Driver Paul Gibbs, event auctioneer Ken Beasley, Sheila Morgan, and Jackie Hooks arrive at the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrew’s on Saturday, June 29 for the 2013 Hippie Ball to benefit Kids Making It.



The historic Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews was the setting for a benefit for Kids Making It on Saturday, June 29. 

Kids Making It is a nonprofit organization focused on impacting the lives of disadvantaged youths. It provides vocational skills and opportunities through extensive hands-on and specialized education in the fields of woodworking and construction. 

Saturday’s benefit, like other KMI events, summer camps and programs, was an effort to perpetuate the work-oriented brand of philanthropy. The founder and executive director of KMI, Jimmy Pierce, said the event is one that was designed to focus on fun, and one that is distinctly different from other balls.

“There’s a guy here in town named Bruce Henderson who represented Jefferson Airplane and lots of big bands back in the day,” Pierce said. “He was a guerrilla promoter and a marketing genius — and it was his idea to have a fundraiser that was fun. When you have some black tie affair and people don’t particularly want to go, it’s a struggle.”

Henceforth arose the Hippie Ball; the second edition took place this year. Attendees were greeted with peace sign necklaces. A projection screen looped a Jimi Hendrix highlight-reel and was followed by local band The Steady Eddies who struck up a cover of “Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire.” Prevalent in guest attire were tie-dye shirts, flowery headbands and long beards or facial hair — some faux, some uncut since the ‘60s.

Although official numbers relating to attendance and funds have yet to be tabulated, there was a substantial turnout. The tables in the church-turned-performance hall were at capacity with an overflow that gladly took to the dance floor.

Items from gift certificates, power tools and grills to hypnosis treatments, yoga lessons and kaleidoscopes lined the walls as part of the silent auction. A live auction followed, cried by Ken Beasley; a few things up for bid were fishing excursions, lunch with the mayor and vacation getaway packages.

Pierce explained that running a nonprofit is just like running a business, always a struggle, but more rewarding.

“We are not institutionalized and don’t have a steady source of donations. Every year we have to raise funds from scratch. It all goes toward our expenses. With a nonprofit, if you don’t make at least a dollar more than it cost you, you’re in big trouble.”

KMI has helped teens to quit gangs, ameliorate domestic troubles and provide positive influences and outlets for inner-city kids. 

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