Arts and Action
Where and When: West Point, Mississippi. The highly revered Old Waverly Golf Club. Sunday February 12th, 2017. A light drizzle leaves the grass damp and the pristine black pavement leading into the country club with a film of rain.
A few hours before the event the kitchen staff calmly preps and plans for the meal ahead. Staff, CRC advisory board members, graduate assistants, and students lay out tables, unload cookbooks, set up the PA system, put together programs, and organize the silent auction art items. Forty-five minutes before guests arrive I fervently pray outside hoping above all else that I don’t stammer, stutter, or stall in my opening remarks, that the kitchen doesn’t burn down, and that a beverage isn’t spilled on a benefactor by a volunteer server.
Who and What: As the sun begins to settle and the overcast skies begin to dissipate a group of my students’ dressed in their Sunday best stroll up to the clubhouse. Their confident and determined stride reassures me that the event will go off without a hitch – that if there is one thing not to worry about it is them. They immediately get to work helping with last-minute logistics and taking their positions. Guests begin to stream in from all over the state of Mississippi and the Southeast. Prominent individuals. Caring people. Philanthropic donors. They smile and bustle to their seats; ready for the Collegiate Recovery Community Arts & Action Fundraising Event.
An hour and a half has passed. The live cooking and live painting demonstration featuring the famous restauranteur Robert St. John and world-renowned watercolor painter Wyatt Waters is officially on. I have delivered my opening remarks, we have sung the national anthem, a CRC student has blessed the food, guests are on their third course, and the silent auction has been thoroughly visited. Laughter fills the grand room as Mississippi State’s Athletic Director competes in a cook-off with a former NFL player/Mississippi State Alum. Wyatt Waters is diligently painting his canvas – the finishing touches coming together on the portrait of cowbells and Mississippi State memorabilia.
The event is coming to a close. Robert St. John has enlightened the crowd on how to prepare a four-course meal, Wyatt’s painting has been auctioned off at a handsome price, a student has made closing remarks, and the TV stations have come and gone. Underlying the tangibles of the event a great intangible has been imparted upon all participants. They have come to know more about addiction, recovery and subsequently collegiate recovery. I visit tables, shake hands, and thank individuals for their attendance. An anonymous guest hands me a check for $2,000 just because. Astonished, I don’t know what to say – a marvelous contribution and telling glimpse into the generosity and heartfelt contributions making Arts & Action not only possible but a great success.