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Budget cuts in the land of plenty

Keri Sutter

Keri Sutter
Executive Director

The Dow Jones broke 14,000 this week.  Oil profits are up.  There are more millionaires in the United States than ever before.

 Unemployment is about 5 %.  Life is good!

Or is it?  I do almost all our marketing by telephone, so I talk to a lot of people in different states.  Many are not booking, and the main reason is because their budgets have been cut – again.  They can’t afford us.  One person to whom I spoke last week pays $15.00 - $20.00 for a one-hour song and dance concert.  That’s all he can afford.  Many, many others can pay only $35.00, or $40.00.  The churches are feeling the budget crunch, too.  Some can afford about 50% of our usual $150.00 fee (that’s for 3 custom-designed & choreographed dances for the worship service).  The schools and preschools are also watching their pennies.  When mom or dad lose their job, the children don’t attend preschool – they stay home with their parent.  When enrollments drop, the schools cut the extras, including our workshops

Surgite, too, is feeling the financial crunch.  Prices have risen across the board, and, since the clients can’t pay higher fees, we haven’t raised them to match our increased expenses.  Our concerts in nursing homes still cost $75.00 – the same fee we charged in 1998 (when gas was $1.20/gallon).  Workshop fees were last raised in 2004 (gas was $1.99/gallon). 

So why keep going?  Because of a resident at an assisted living facility in another state. 

He sat through the entire concert, watching avidly, until we got to the “flag-waving” part of the concert.  We all sing some patriotic songs like “ America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America .”  He was singing along, with all the other residents, and I noticed “that look” on the face of the activity director.  She called over another staff member, who watched the resident and immediately got “that look” on her face, too.  “That look” means something extraordinary is happening, so after the concert, I asked the activity director what was going on.

The resident cannot speak.

Oh, he can speak a little.  He managed to say, “Thank you,” to me after the concert as I shook his hand.  He said it very slowly, and with a lot of effort.  It’s taken him two years of therapy to be able to say that much.  But when he was singing, it was different.  He was singing at the same tempo as the rest of us, the words were recognizable, and he was on pitch.

What gift did he receive that day?  What about the staff and the other residents?  How did his miracle change their day, or their week?  What did they receive just because I was there?

That’s why we keep going.  For people like him.  And that’s why we need your support.  Your tax-deductible donation to our grants program allow us to give our financially-strapped clients a reduced rate for workshops, worship services, and concerts.  And you are supporting an organization that opens the door to miracles.  Please give generously.

Peace to all of you,


August, 2007