UPDATE (February 13, 2014): This story has been updated to include a second location where the Life is Good T-shirts for Newtown can be purchased. Proceeds from all sales of the shirts are donated to The Resiliency Center of Newtown.
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Beth Bogdan visited Newtown the weekend of January 31-February 2, and spent time that Saturday at The Resiliency Center of Newtown (RCN). There, she and RCN Founder Stephanie Cinque packed up items that had been sold during the Second Annual Music For Newtown Auction.
Ms Bogdan had organized the online auction. It was the second in as many years that she coordinated in the aftermath of 12/14. Last year’s sale, a three-day event in March, was a fundraiser for The Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
This year’s sale was expanded to eight days, and was a fundraiser for The Resiliency Center.
“The total amount raised is $6,619,” Ms Bogdan said via e-mail on February 10. “100 percent of proceeds went to Resiliency Center of Newtown,” she reiterated.
Ms Bogdan is the senior director of artistic relations for Republic Records. She works in New York City, and was again able to use her direct contact with many of Republic’s artists as well as her contacts in the music business to find items for the auctions.
She created Music For Newtown, she told The Newtown Bee last year, to unite the community — her former hometown — through music, and to give back to those affected by the events of 12/14.
Both auctions have featured special and/or limited edition items related to music. Artists including Black Sabbath, Florida Georgia Line, and Lorde were among the first to donate items to this year’s event. By the time the auction went live on January 22, items included an autographed guitar from Anberlin, signed posters from Neon Trees and Colbie Caillat; signed photos from Nickelback and Psy; signed CDs from Bon Jovi, Cassadee Pope, and Ben Howard; signed vinyl from Jack Johnson; a signed drumhead from The 1975; a signed lithograph from AFI; and a signed set list from The Naked and Famous.
In all, 49 lots were offered. Ms Bogdan contacted each artist, shared the backstory of the auction for those who were unfamiliar with last year’s effort, and requested an item.
The top lot for last month’s fundraiser was a limited edition poster for Pearl Jam’s concert in Hartford on October 25, 2013.
“Pearl Jam does limited edition posters for every tour market,” Ms Bogdan said February 1. “We were really lucky to get this poster, right when the auction started.
“The band promoted the auction too,” she said. “It was great support from Pearl Jam, who was in the last auction too.” (A poster from Eddie Vedder’s solo tour was offered last year.)
The Pearl Jam Hartford poster had ten bids, opening at $25 but jumping to $751 within the first 24 hours of the auction. The price jumped to $950 on January 28, and then increased twice on January 29 before selling for $1,350.
Also among the top lots was a copy of Blue October’s book of their words and lyrics Crazy Making, autographed by Justin Furstenfeld, which sold for $500; a pair of tickets to an Austin Mahone concert and Meet & Greet access, $375; a Black Sabbath poster signed by Ozzy and Geezer, $325; and an autographed copy of Jack Johnson’s From Here To Now To You, which went for $211.
Also, a VIP package for a 3 Doors Down “Basement Hangout Session,” including two tickets to the band’s February 7 show in Atlantic City and access to the Meet & Greet, sold for $195; a harmonica autographed by G Love finished $120; an autographed Avett Brothers poster reached $115; a Gary Clark Jr autographed 2013 concert poster was $102.52; and an autographed copy of the Bon Jovi CD What About Now brought $100.
One lot that surprised Ms Bogdan was an Epiphone guitar autographed by Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, a/k/a the country duo Florida Georgia Line. It sold for $220.
“I just think some of their fans didn’t know it was in there,” said Ms Bogdan.
The auction’s other signed guitar, another Epiphone, signed by the members of Anberlin, sold for $500.
Four items that had been signed by Lorde — who had picked up the Grammy for Best New Artist less than a week before the auction opened — did well, said Ms Bogdan.
An autographed copy of the singer’s vinyl EP The Love Club sold for $205; an autographed copy of Tennis Courts, also on vinyl, brought $116; an autographed copy of “Royals” sheet music realized $220, and a signed Music For Newtown T-shirt sold for $53. The same bidder picked up the two Lorde vinyl offerings.
“They did well for what they were,” said Ms Bogdan said of the four lots by the pop singer. “They’re not huge items, like a guitar. They did better than I thought they would.”
Bidding came in from across the country.
A few items, she said, were won by Newtown residents.
“The same thing happened last year,” said Ms Bogdan. “Some of the items came right to Newtown.”
This year’s “was definitely a smaller auction,” she said. Nevertheless, she was pleased with the results. “We had artists posting about it, retweeting about it, and pretty much everything sold,” she said February 1.
Beth Bogdan and Stephanie Cinque met last year, through a mutual friend. Ms Bogdan met Karen Kravec in July during The Great Newtown Reunion. Ms Kravec had read about the first Music For Newtown and, being a friend of Stephanie Cinque, thought Ms Bogdan might be willing to help The Resiliency Center if she did another auction.
“It was always in the back of my mind” to do a second auction, said Ms Bogdan. By August she was beginning to seriously think about a second auction. The following month Ms Bogdan visited Newtown, and The Resiliency Center.
“I met Stephanie, and I liked what she was doing. I thought it was a good place, and a good place to have money go to,” said Ms Bogdan. “I feel like through something like this, there’s going to be something for long-term needs and therapy. It’s a place for support and help.”
The Resiliency Center offers seminars, workshops, and programs, all free of charge. Every program, said Ms Cinque, has been “at full capacity.”
Events like Music For Newtown will allow the center, she said, “to not charge a fee for anything, to get the therapists we want, and to keep up with the demand.”
As she spoke, children in the center’s main room were participating in a drumming workshop. Led by Dr Joseph Breton, the young participants were thumping out just-learned rhythms on large drums, while flute music played in the background. Mothers were seated along the outer edge of the room, watching as their children participated or walked around the room, listening to the sounds being created by their peers.
In Ms Cinque’s office, her desk was covered with the CDs, albums, posters, photographs, and other items that had been purchased during the auction. Padded envelopes, sturdy cardboard tubes, and boxes were scattered on the floor and on counters, ready to have items packed into them.
Each item was packed with a receipt/invoice, and a Thank You note for the support toward The Resiliency Center.
Formed in September, The Resiliency Center of Newtown is at 153 South Main Street. It is a nonprofit organization that provides free and confidential services, programs, and events to assist in the healing process for anyone in the greater Newtown community impacted by the events of 12/14.
RCN is an affiliate of Tuesday’s Children, a 501(c)(3) organization that made a similar long-term commitment to meet the needs of the children and families who lost a loved one on 9/11.
Donations to benefit RCN are always welcome, and can be done online or mailed in, said Ms Cinque. For more information, visit resiliencycenterofnewtown.org or contact Stephanie Cinque at 203-364-9750.
In addition, T-shirts created by Life is Good are available for purchase. Created last year by the Boston-based business famous for optimistic T-shirts, baseball hats, coffee mugs, and the like, the T-shirts are heavy-duty cotton, short sleeve, gray, with the word “Newtown” across the front in green lettering. On the back of the shirt is the smiling face of Jake, the logo/mascot for Life is Good, above the wording “Nothing is stronger than Love.”
The shirts are $26 each, and all proceeds benefit The Resiliency Center.
(Newbury Place, a two-story gift shop at 41 Oak Tree Road in Southbury (telephone 203-264-7333) co-owned by Newtown resident Liz Page, is also selling the Life is Good T-shirts. All $26 from each sale is also given to RCN.)
“Life is Good doesn’t take a penny” from the sales, said Ms Cinque. “That also generates money for us.”
Whether a third Music For Newtown auction will happen or not is in the air.
“Possibly,” Ms Bogdan said with a laugh when asked about doing another one. “I’ve been talking with others about doing silent auctions here and there and other events. You never know.”