Even in the midst of this terrible time, there’s always some good news, always people rising above the depressing and dark news out there and trying their best to do good works and be positive in this world. And every month, I, in conjunction with our media partners at KWQC-TV6’s “Paula Sands Live” bring you some of the positive and uplifting events, actions and individuals in the area.

Here are some of the great things going on during this challenging time in the Quad-Cities:

Mask Makers Stepping Up

In the face of a shortage of masks and a greater need than ever for people to have the face-coverings, a number of Quad-Citians have stepped up to help make homemade masks for everyday folks in the Quads. A lot of these masks have gone out to whomever has come forward to claim them, whether workers in essential industries from restaurant and grocery workers to delivery drivers, or just everyday citizens.

One of the first people I noticed making masks was Maria Dickmann, alderperson for the second ward in Davenport. Maria has made over 1,000 masks now, in a variety of styles and looks, always just leaving them on her front porch for anyone in need to pick up.

She’s taken some requests from folks, but mostly it’s just been completely anonymous, with Maria leaving the masks outside in a bag and people coming by her home in Northwest Davenport to pick them up. It’s really quite admirable, doing this great service for just about anyone, without any reciprocation or even usually thanks in return.

When people talk about politicians being public servants, very few live up to that oft-used moniker. Maria Dickmann is one person who does. You can hear her talking about her vocation in the latest episode of my podcast, QCUncut, here.

In addition to Maria, one of the other biggest mask makers has been a local theater, Quad City Music Guild, led by costume-makers Cathy Marsoun, Sarah Lounsberry, Angela Baker Stark and Nicole Manasco. The group started sewing a few weeks back and have hit over 800 masks at this point!

It’s some fantastic work and amazing altruism from the Quad-Cities community to pitch in and help during this difficult time!

QC Hive Buzzing!

Like many of his fellow musicians who are airing videos on Facebook and working to raise money during the Covid-19 pandemic, Don Gustafson is using the social-media platform for good.

The 49-year-old Davenport man makes his living as a full-time musician – as bassist in the Q-C band Funktastic Five, assistant music director at Davenport’s St. Paul Lutheran Church, and adjunct music teacher at Black Hawk College, offering private piano, guitar and bass lessons.

In response to the coronavirus, which has closed bars and restaurants, and put musicians out of work, Gustofson launched the Facebook group QC HIVE on March 23, and now it’s got over 3,300 members. Every day, he picks a local musician or business and asks people to donate at least $1 and share the post.

“There are people out there I know personally who have no income. That’s where the idea came from,” he said recently. “It’s such a giving community here, if we had enough people collecting for one person or one business a day, we could reach out a helping hand and pull them up.”

Gustofson chose the name “Hive” because thousands of bees work toward one goal. . “Imagine if all those bees, and we selected one worker bee and for a day, everyone helped that bee,” he said.

“So many artists and musicians are affected by this, I decided to open it up to bars and restaurants as well,” he said, noting his public gigs are off indefinitely. “My initial thoughts were for fellow musicians, but it looks like this extended shutdown, it’s gonna go for a long time. I’m terrified that places I perform at, or my friends perform at; restaurants we like to go eat at, they might not make it and they may be closed or out of business by the time everything clears up again.”

As Covid-19 is a global pandemic, Gustofson wants to encourage donations to HIVE from as wide a world as possible.

“The concept is, what if we had a few thousand people who could afford a dollar, donate a dollar?” he asked. “Imagine one musician, his bills are paid; a cook or bartender, or a business, I can pay my employees even though they’re not working. Together, we are many, and we can help one.”

EMSSC Players Make The Illinois State Team!

Three players from the East Moline Silvis Soccer Club U12 Spartans have made the final cut for the Illinois State Soccer Team in their age group, and six players overall from EMSSC made the cut!

Eli Nache and Jonas Cortez made the final cut for the state team for 2008, and Junior Garibay made the pool team!

Other EMSSC players to make the team include Deontae Nache and Austin VandeGeest, who made the 2006 team, and Logan Schaeffer, who made the 2007 team!

EMSSC is the only team from the Quad-Cities to be represented on the teams!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Munson Marvels Helping Center For Living Arts

Local theaters have been hit especially hard during the shut-down, and one of those hit the hardest has been Rock Island’s Center for Living Arts, at 220 19th St., and its owners, Dino and Tina Hayz.

To help the Center while it’s shuttered, local author Lindsey Munson is donating half the sales of two new books she wrote about her family – “Munson Marvels: Our Forever Family” and “Munson Marvels: My Peach Family” (each sells for $12.99) – to Dino and Tina.

“It is an uncertain time for so many families and small businesses right now,” Lindsey said, noting that her daughter, Yenework, 7, performs at the theater, which has been a huge factor in her growth as a person and performer. “A place that our daughter loves is unsure of their future because we don’t know how long our daily lives will be on hold and businesses will be closed,” she said. “It took my daughter many years to overcome her anxiety and to find an activity she truly loves.

“She found that love at the Center for Living Arts,” starting with her first production, “Aladdin” in late 2018. “Dino and Tina Hayz have made such an impact on our daughter and her life. They have helped her overcome her fears and anxiety. They helped her find a confidence that makes her shine not just on stage but in life.”

“Families from our entire history are sending in donations to help keep the place afloat during this dark time,” Dino said. “We are appreciative beyond words. Right now, we are trying to keep things low-key in regards to fundraising. Many families are feeling the pinch during this time.”

All donations are going towards the monthly recurring expenses of running a theater. The Hayz’ also meet weekly with all their casts through Zoom, and send choreography videos via email to help them practice at home.

“We see this as just an intermission,” Dino said.

To donate to the organization, visit centerforlivingarts.org/pay-for-classes.

Josh Duffee Giving Area Music History Lessons

Internationally known local musician Josh Duffee, who performs in bands offering everything from jazz to ‘80s tunes, has started up a new weekly online show!

Duffee has long been a scholar of area legends like Louie Bellson and Bix Beiderbecke, and now he’s sharing his encyclopedic knowledge with a new online show, Bix Beiderbecke: A Driving Tour Around Davenport, taking place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays on Josh’s Facebook Live.

“When I have the opportunity to travel the country and the world performing the music I love, I am proud to say that my family and I live in Davenport, Iowa, the hometown of Bix Beiderbecke!” Josh said. “The one thing I’ve heard the most from the audience members coming up to say hello is “I really want to get to Davenport to see all the Bix sites.”

“To kick-off my weekly online event series, I’m ready to help bring Bix Beiderbecke into the homes all over the world by driving around Davenport visiting various sites associated with Bix Beiderbecke. If you have never seen the sites before, please make sure you don’t miss this great opportunity!”

 

Ballet Quad Cities Dancing Online

Ballet Quad Cities may have had to postpone its shows and in-person classes and training, but that hasn’t stopped the dance, and the dancers, from bringing their kinetic art online.

Ballet Quad Cities has started up “Ballet 101” here, which offers young dancers the opportunity to continue to pursue their art online with others.

Emily Kate Long, Artistic Associate for the Ballet, said, “In thinking about some of the long-term partnerships the ballet company has had with area schools, I wanted to find a way to keep bringing dance to these students even though they are not in school right now. We reach students in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade with programs that focus on social-emotional learning, bullying prevention, music, and literacy, so it seemed right to add physical education to that ever-expanding list.

“The video is essentially a foundational ballet class—almost every step in the ballet vocabulary can be traced back to these basics. Plus, there are some more conventional strength movements people will be familiar with. Part of my goal was to give kids a first-hand experience of what ballet dancers do every day—ballet is hard! The “dancers-as-athletes” concept is usually very surprising to students and teachers alike.

“It was an interesting process of recording video clips and voice memos on my phone and computer by myself in the studio. Most of the work was laying music over it and editing it to make sure the pace was challenging but doable for 7- to 11-year-old learners.”

Keep an eye out for more great online courses and offerings from your only local professional dance troupe, Ballet Quad Cities!

Concert For Hunger

(Illinois) Regional Media, one of Illinois’ largest locally owned and operated mediacompanies, announced a partnership with the​ Illinois Broadcasters Association​ and Feeding Illinois ​to bring hundreds of thousands of concert lovers together in the Inaugural ​Regional Media Concert for Hunger​ event.

The ​Concert for Hunger​​ will feature performances by many Illinois local and regional artists, and a few artists that will be released in the days to come. Most will broadcast from their own homes, filmed with their personal cell phones, cameras and audio equipment, to ensure the health and safety of all involved.

The Concert For Hunger will air on Good Friday, April 10th, from 12:00PM-5:00PM (cst) ​across hundreds of radios stations, social media pages, and be will be streamed live at ​ConcertForHunger.com.

As we unite throughout Illinois to combat hunger and food bank shortages in the wakeof the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Media encourages viewers and listeners of the Concert for Hunger​ to contribute monetary donations to bolster dwindling food supplies at local food banks.

Corporations and individuals looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of neighbors experiencing food hardship can contribute at: http://www.concertforhunger.com

Unite Quad-Cities Unites To Raise Over $100,000 In One Day!

Quad Citizens raised $102,376 on Monday, April 6, during the 24-hour “Unite Quad Cities for COVID-19 Recovery” giving event spearheaded by KWQC TV6, United Way of the Quad Cities, and the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

All contributions supported the Quad Cities Disaster Recovery Fund at the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

Every single dollar donated during the event was matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to a challenge from First Midwest Bank, Sears Seating, Modern Woodmen of America, MidAmerican Energy, and Mike and Monique Gorsline. The group has committed to matching a total of $150,000—meaning the next $47,624 contributed to the Disaster Recovery Fund will also be matched.

The giving day event brought the total donated or pledged by individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit funders to $886,953. This includes lead gifts from the United Way of the Quad Cities, Quad Cities Community Foundation, and Regional Development Authority.

Secret Santa

According to a few local waitstaff around the area, including Michael Mato, there’s a secret Santa in our midst helping those who have been hit particularly hard with the shutdown of restaurants and bars.

According to Michael, who is perhaps best known as a long-time waiter at Blue Cat Brew Pub and Big Swing, “We have a Santa Claus in the area that wants to remain anonymous. He is sending out $100 personal checks to people in the service industry that are not working. I happen to be a lucky recipient of one of the checks today in the mail.”

As always, if you have any good news you’d like to see in this column and on Paula Sands Live, please contact me at Sean@QuadCities.com!

 

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.