Laughter through the Ages

Official Project

The Problem

Every year the Ottumwa Teen Center brings physical comedian Kirk Marsh back to our town for a benefit fundraiser.  Last year the proceeds we received from Kirk's Show gave us operating funds for almost 9 months!  This is huge for a 501(c)3 that just opened it's doors a year ago.   What makes us unique in Ottumwa is we’re not just a place to hang out after school.  We do everything from providing after-school academic help, to hosting clubs, offering workshops and assisting youth in their aspirations. We serve students ranging from 12-21 years old in a Title 1 qualifying district. 59.25 % of our community schools are title schools, with 5 of our 8 elementary schools (at 48.9% of these students) being qualified.  17.5 % of our students are low-income with 44.4% of the total approved for reduced or free school lunches (more are eligible but have not completed the paperwork to qualify). In our year of service we have started environmental, photography and Manga (drawing and anime appreciation) clubs.  Gaming nights, $1 guitar lessons and our lock-ins have also been quite popular.  Our various workshops were building a cob wall in our backyard, hip hop show and dance workshop and creating an art car with a performance at the Iowa State Fair.  Several youth have also come to us for help in realizing projects with which they needed assistance. For example, we have assisted in a DJ venture giving local youth a place to both learn and ply their talent.  In August, we also took a dozen youth to a world-class convention in Indianapolis.  They attended events and many volunteered there in exchange for their 4-day passes.  Not only did our youth place 3rd in a major gaming event, the staff of the convention also requested we bring more volunteers next year of the same caliber!   Finally, we presented physical comedian and Ottumwa native Kirk Marsh to showcase successful locals for our youth and families. Kirk has been described as Charlie Chaplin, Jerry Lewis and Dick Van Dyke rolled into one.  He brings vaudeville's rich traditions of magic, juggling, eccentric dane and oddball audience participation to the stage.  Ottumwa is a community where we would like to share Kirk's high-class performance with people that would not normally be able to afford such a gift.  Last year we received a $300 grant from United Way to give free and reduced tickets out to area low-income families.  Some of the tickets given were to Big Brother Big Sisters, foster families, and the women's crises center.  This year we would like to extend this service to senior citizens living in low-income housing units in town. The $500 you would give us would serve 100 seniors. In turn we would match your funds with 100 more reduced price tickets available only to our low-income elders. We will be elated to serve our senior citizens!  Please help us share the joy, laughter and fun of Kirk Marsh with our whole community! 

Plan of Action

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