Sometimes a famous person and a group of local legends come along and give back to a community in need in an extraordinary way. Lee Greenwood, together with Rotary International and the Kingwood Rotary chapter, recently gave of themselves and their resources for the Kingwood Library to aid children and families in need post-Harvey
Rotarians Charlie Buscemi and his wife, Tommie Buscemi, invited Kingwood Public Library Head Librarian Ryan Fennel to give a presentation to their chapter about the damage sustained post-Harvey to the library. He spoke about the children’s work room and how everything was lost in the water as it rose higher and higher. All together, the damage to this area of the library alone surpassed $32,000. Charlie asked about the total dollars needed to fix that area of the library and what it would cover if fixed.
Fennel replied, “These monies would bring back the technologies, books and other resources that the children grew accustomed to having at their disposal, especially children that do not have computers at home.”
“While Rotarians aren’t first responders, we are ‘people of action;’ but where do you start after the destruction caused by the massive flooding in our community? When we met with Ryan Fennell with the Kingwood Branch Library and saw the photos, our members instantly knew we needed to provide everything on his wish list, which included computers, monitors, printers, workstations, projectors and many more items for the children’s section at our library,” said Buscemi.
When Buscemi heard the numbers, he knew he had to act, so he started to call his friends and family. Together with his wife, they enlisted members of the Kingwood Rotary chapter and eventually to Rotary International.
Tommie wrote a grant that awarded the chapter with $20,000 towards the total, putting the chapter two-thirds of the way to their goal. This husband and wife team brainstormed what were seemingly endless ideas until they ran into a mutual contact, Kathaleen Wall from Houston, who had ties with Lee Greenwood, the famous country singer.
By coincidence, on Dec. 20, 2017, they realized that Greenwood was scheduled to have a show in Houston the next day, Dec. 21, but it was canceled at the last minute. They were skeptical that they could pull off a mass event with one-day notice, find a space and fill seats around the holidays to raise the rest of the money.
The Buscemis pitched the idea to Tony Austin, manager of Kingwood Town Center, and then to Greenwood about putting on a show at Kingwood Town Center the very next day. As many know, it is hard enough to put on a major event and sell out months in advance, but they were tasked with bringing as many people as possible to the next-day event as a fundraiser for the remainder of the funds.
At 6 p.m. the very next day, a pastor opened the mini concert and Greenwood showed up with a lighting crew and they held the concert, filling the entire green space of Kingwood Town Center. In usual fashion, Greenwood sang several Christmas songs, and of course, his signature song of “God Bless the U.S.A.”
The event was a resounding success. The local community came together and the event raised roughly $5,000.
“Greenwood came out with his guitar and really put on a show at no charge or profit to himself or his team,” Buscemi said.
After the event commenced, the local Rotarian chapter pitched in an additional $5,000 to raise an impressive and resounding total of $32,468.11.
Soon the children of the Kingwood area will have their library and their children’s area back as it was before or better, thanks to the help of many local citizens that pulled together for a common cause.
“I joined Rotary to make a difference, and I stay in Rotary because I am, and this type of project is a perfect example of how Rotarians across state and country borders help each other make a difference in our world,” said Buscemi.