For Rise And Shine: Annual Fundraiser Exceeds Expectations


May 6, 2019

Scholars and volunteers dance to Jackson 5's "ABC."

The sellout crowd at Rise and Shine Neighbors in Ministry's annual Motown Memories fundraiser delivered a record amount in donations to the organization and, thanks to a new emphasis on conservation, zero waste to the local landfill.

Organizers hoped the event, held April 27 at the Straus Center on the campus of the Brevard Music Center, would raise as much money as last year, about $43,000. Instead, through ticket sales, auctions, donations and additional gifts coaxed from attendees by the pitch of Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris, it took in more than $50,000.

"We hit it right out of the ballpark," said Maureen Copelof, Brevard City Council member and vice president of the Rise & Shine board, which helped organize the event.

Besides generating about 25 percent of the organization's annual operating budget, the event lived up to its reputation as a lively party that welcomes guests from all corners of the community.

"It's sort of the event of the season, the best fundraiser I've been to," said Diana Refsland, a Rise and Shine volunteer who, along with her wife, Ruthie Zaleon, and their real estate company, Watershed Properties, contributed $1,000 to the cause.

The weather was perfect, and the open-air venue allowed the crowd to appreciate the springtime beauty of the music center. The event featured a chicken marsala dinner catered by Brevard College, a dance routine by Rise & Shine scholars set to the 1970 Jackson 5 hit, "ABC," and brief ballet performance by scholar/dancers Edith Alvarado and J.J. Stanton

The trio of Rise & Shine executive director William Mills, his niece Rockell Scott and grandniece Taylor Whiteside sang Motown classics, including "You're All I Need to Get By." After dinner the floor was cleared for dancing to tracks spun by Brevard DJ Marcus Lester.

"It's such a great cause and such great fun to get together in that setting," Refsland said.

Motown's ability to bring a wide range of people onto the dance floor fits in perfectly with the more serious community-building aim of Rise and Shine, which was launched 23 years ago to heal wounds left by an earlier Ku Klux Klan demonstration. Seeking to bring people together in a constructive cause, it's after-school tutoring program has developed a stellar record of promoting academic achievement among economically disadvantaged children.

The additional proceeds may help it expand its offering for more field trips and summer programs, Mills said.

The event serves as a celebration of its legacy of outreach and inclusion, said board president Judy Griffin.

"This is important because it brings in money for the program. It's important because it brings the volunteers and children together to take part," she said, standing in the midst of the jostling crowd. "And it's important because it opens the doors to all people who love children, and as you can see a lot of people love children."

Motown is the ideal theme, Copelof said, because "it appeals to a wide range of ages and it appeals across racial lines. We want to develop and expand that broad sense of community."

This year, event organizers also worked to limit its environmental impact on that community. This was the third year that the event featured Motown music but the first that it eliminated landfill waste. Working with the environmental group Moving to Conservers, it used china plates and metal forks and knives rather than paper and plastic. All food waste was used as feed by a local pig farm.

This took more work, Copelof, said, but it was one of several examples of how people pitched in to create a successful event.

Moving to Conservers coordinated the zero-landfill effort. Local restaurants donated the use of dishes and silverware. Volunteers cleared plates and washed dishes.

Speaking of Motown Memories as a whole, Copelof said, "This was the work of a lot of people over a lot of months and is an example of strong teamwork."

To find out more about Rise and Shine, go to


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