Braylan Dickason and B.J. Adams

A few weeks ago, Bunny Wiseman came in to the office in tears. She had been asked if GMAF could donate money from the organization to help a family in need. Wiseman desperately wanted to help but had to say, “no.” The organization simply wasn’t around for that purpose.

The family who needed help were the victims of the May 22 fire in Scenic, Arizona. They lost their home and nearly everything that was in it. They are part of the “Community Theatre Family,” a group of people who mean a great deal to Wiseman. Saying “no” isn’t often in Wiseman’s vocabulary. Having to use it, especially in this case, devastated her.

Grant Gunn

Wiseman went on to explain that the organization, while unable to donate cash, could donate the venue if somebody could organize a benefit. I didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the “somebody” she was referring to was me.

I hate to see my friends cry. It wasn’t long before both of us were sobbing together and figuring out what we could do. I had no idea what we could accomplish in a very limited time but I knew we could accomplish something.

Putting first things first, I spread the word to the theater crowd that we were going to do a benefit show, what the benefit was for and that’s about all it took.

I set auditions for July 5 and 6 but in less than 72 hours, after asking for performers on social media, I already had a full show. Those who regularly perform at the Community Theatre and were still in town responded immediately, glad to help. The Phoenix, “Rising from the Ashes” benefit was born.

Paul Benedict

Larry LeMieux, his wife, Ava and a group of couples became one performance. Others included Glen Bjornson, Miriam Samuels, Chad Calmelat, Cathy Petrus, Karen Ransdell, Jan Casebolt, Jeff Dorsten, The Mesquite Toes, Marge Westwood, Russ Westwood, Paul Benedict, Judy Edgington, B.J. Adams, 7-year-old Braylan Dickason and Grant Gunn who all jumped at the chance to help.

Patti Bjornson organized the proper paperwork, set up the availability of both the Green Room for auditions, the theater for the venue and volunteers for the lobby and spotlights.

Christopher Finnegan set the lights and sound and anything else that was needed tech-wise for the show.

Denis Feehan and Paul Broussard stepped up for spotlights but only one spot was needed so Feehan took charge of the stage and making sure the acts had everything they needed for their set up.

The Phoenix performers

Paul Benedict was instrumental in putting together programs, creating the script for the emcee and the music that was to play before the show and during intermission.

Jessica Callan and Barb Benedict were happy to help sell raffle tickets and keep the donations in order.

Wiseman took on the role of Master of Ceremonies for the occasion which was appropriate since it was all her idea in the first place.

Everything and everybody came together for the common cause and somehow, I got the credit for the benefit.

I don’t deserve the credit.

Everybody who came together for this event made it possible. There would have been no benefit if it hadn’t been for these people who offered their help. Community members who worked together from scheduling to performing, and the wonderful audience members who came to see the show and donated money, they are the ones who, in just two short weeks, helped to raise $2,636 for a family in need. They are the ones who deserve all the thanks.

All I had to do was ask.

For further donations to the family, please contact Jenna Grubb: