Tuesday, January 14, 2014



which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.

William Shakespeare, Richard III (c. 1591), Act I, scene 2, line 68.

Want to do a world of good for someone you may know?  Want to have a bang up good time in the process?


It’s a rare person who never needed a helping hand at some time.  Those working in the Denver theater community do it more for the passion than the paycheck.  Most have day jobs with little or no health insurance, and they are highly vulnerable to the unpredictable illness or injury that can afflict any of us.

Over the years, actors, directors, producers, and companies have passed the hat when someone needed immediate financial or emotional assistance.  However, the hat passing was informal and impromptu.  Those days are over.

The Denver Actors Fund (DAF) was established in the summer of 2013, part of an effort of CultureWest to create a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in great and sudden medical need.  The inaugural event was a fundraiser that attracted about 100 people.  In the best dramatic fashion, partygoers donated more than $1,200.00 to the fund that night. 

According to Chris Boeckx, President of the DAF Board of Directors, a lot of progress has been made since that initial event.  “We have incorporated and filed as an IRS non-profit group.  We have established bylaws to control donations and distributions, and we have established criteria for disbursements, along with an application process for those needing assistance.”

While Chris expects financial assistance to be the biggest need for DAF, he expects to use volunteers to meet other needs.  DAF plans to offer services such as:

·      Meal preparation/delivery
·      Construction/remodeling to improve accessibility
·      Assistance with errands
·      Domestic assistance (housekeeping, laundry, etc.)
·      Company/companionship

DAF assistance is not limited to actors; according to Boeckx, “actors, directors, musicians, ticket takers, carpenters, seamstresses” and anyone else involved in any way in a production in the last five years is eligible.

So…how is it working?  Ask Becky Toma, one of the first beneficiaries of the Denver Actors Fund. 

Becky has been a props designer and P.R. freelancer for clients including schools and local theatre companies including Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, Phamaly Theatre Company, the Mizel Center and Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret.  Becky fell and fractured her knee on November 15, and she needed a wheelchair.  She has health insurance, but with a very high deductible.  The DAF wrote her a check for $294.06 to cover renting a wheelchair until she can get back on her feet.  Becky was very grateful:  Any assistance I receive from the Denver Actors Fund is greatly appreciated. When I’m back working again, I hope to contribute back to the Fund!”

Maggie Stillman, another early beneficiary of DAF, had these words of thanks:
“Hello to this wonderful community. . . . The grant I received from the DAF went towards my deductible and paid for my hospital co-pay. My surgeon spoke with my family while I was in recovery and stressed that the surgery could not have waited . . . . Every dollar I received helped my quality of life to improve exponentially (if not literally saving it). Life is the most beautiful gift that we can ever give. Thanks for improving mine.”

Shakespeare is right; we can all help change some curses to blessings if we care enough.  The DAF is an excellent way for all theater fans, patrons, and enthusiasts to give back to the local talent that entertains, enlightens, provokes and inspires us regularly from their stages.

If you would like more information, check out DAF on Facebook here. 
If you’d like to make a tax deductible donation, you can take care of that here.  If you’re eligible for and need assistance, you can find a downloadable application form on this web page (scroll down).  If you’d like some cool sportswear or other gear with the DAF logo, find it in the online DAF store here.

Any and all donations are greatly appreciated.

DAF logo and photos of Becky Toma & Maggie Stillman used with permission.

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