Smile Politely

Blind Pig sponsors TIMES Center benefit

Presumably, you would like to participate in a local charity event. Would you rather run in a 5K benefit race, work the phones at a telathon, or drink craft beer from around the state, while eating fresh-made waffles from a gosh-dang truck and enjoying live music downtown?

Okay—you don’t have to choose just one. That last option, though, the one with the beer, that is a real thing. This Wednesday, April 25, from 3 p.m. until close at 2 a.m., The Blind Pig (meaning the “big pig” on Walnut Street) will host an all day benefit party for the Transitional Initiatives and Men’s Empowerment Services (TIMES) Center of Champaign.

Anna Schweig, Blind Pig bartender and event organizer, said there will be nine different Illinois beers on tap. Profits from the saes will be donated by The Blind Pig directly to the TIMES Center.

The center provides transitional housing, food, outpatient treatment and other basic and critical services to men in the community who are homeless, in need of mental care or other support,” Center Director Brad Buldak said.

“You couldn’t pick it [The TIMES Center] up and place it in just any community and see it work the way it does here,” Bulkak said. “It exists because of how aware and engaged the community is with these issues. There are many social services, organizations and groups that work together in this area. It really is something.”

Yet, however fortunate and efficient the organization may be, providing social services in a state that’s broke (both financially and politically) is never easy. Both Buldak and Sheila Ferguson, CEO of the TIMES parent organization Community Elements, say that cuts in state funding make community donations from events like this one ever more valuable.

“You can imagine the costs of housing sometimes upwards of 70 men,” Buldak said. “Just the power bill alone is a lot.”

So, while your normal Wednesday night out is not likely to help homeless men in Champaign-Urbana (unless you have party habits that are surprisingly noble), you now have the ability to aid in someone in need getting a roof and some counseling, simply by enjoying pints brewed right here in the state.

And to help you further your charitable indulgence, local waffle peddlers, The Crave Truck, will be parked outside for the whole day, making sure you get your street waffle fix. Music from Rusted Belt will start at 7 p.m., with a performance from Tom & Brendan following at 9:00. There is  no cover charge.
Schweig hopes this fundraiser will help with an issue that she believes needs the money and attention. “… More people are apt to donate time and money to women’s and children’s organizations,” she said. “It seems as though the men in this community are often forgot about.”

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