Earlier this month, a little listening room in Roanoke, Virginia closed a chapter on music, generosity, and a triumph of the human spirit.
When the pandemic shut the world down in 2020, 3rd Street Coffeehouse asked a question: What can we do to help our neighbors during this difficult time? The answer was "Tuesday Tunes for Feeding Southwest Virginia," a weekly online concert series featuring local artists and other musicians from around the country. Every Tuesday, someone went live on 3rd Street Coffeehouse's Facebook page for a 15-minute concert, during which viewers were encouraged to donate to a good cause. The goal was $20,000 (that is, 100,000 meals).
Bob Schmucker, board member at 3rd Street Coffeehouse, hatched the idea for the Tuesday Tunes series back in May 2020. On August 3, a roomful of Tuesday Tunes musicians flocked to the coffeehouse to watch Greg Trafidlo & Friends perform one last concert to bump the series over its $20,000 goal.
"Thank you to all of you volunteers, contributors, and performers who made this series successful," Trafidlo addressed the crowd at the beginning of the night. "And thank you, Bob Schmucker, for gathering the musical community on behalf of a higher purpose."
Joe Kessler, Director of Corporate Relations at Feeding Southwest Virginia, said a few words from the stage. "When I was getting familiarized with some of the corporate folks who have supported our programming, there was an outlier. That was 3rd Street Coffeehouse...And I started looking at the totals fundraised, and I said, 'Are you kidding me? This is a non-profit full of folks that are donating their time? They are having an incredible impact.'"
Kessler added, "It was a really, really tough year. I think it was easy for folks to retreat into themselves. I think a lot of people were afraid. There were a few exceptional folks during that time who ran the other way, towards the battle. And Bob Schmucker is one of those people."
The "Tuesday Tunes" finale lasted two hours and featured performances from Greg Trafidlo, Britt Mistele, Kathy Acosta, Laura Pole, Marc Baskind, Barbara Martin, and grammy award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton.
Paxton did the honors of announcing the official total amount of funds raised by the "Tuesday Tunes" series.
"Before I read this," he said, "I just want to mention about tonight. You know, we're very fond of coming in the house saying, 'I'm starving!' We're just hungry. That's not starving. Starving is day after day, but nothing. That's physically, agonizingly painful. And that's what we're hoping to alleviate with the work that you guys have been doing so beautifully for this period of time. And now, I can tell you that, since May of 2020, we have raised $21,269. That's 106,345 meals for Feeding Southwest Virginia."
Applause broke out before he'd finished reading the announcement.
"I think that's fantastic," Paxton said. "I am very proud to have been part of this effort. Think of those people getting meals where they did not have them before."
The pandemic brought a lot of pain to the world, but good people stepped up to take care of neighbors and remind us of the power of love, music, and community. Congratulations, 3rd Street and Feeding Southwest Virginia. And a special shout-out to Bob Schmucker, the man behind it all!
You can donate to Feeding Southwest Virginia by visiting https://www.feedingswva.org/donate/ .
Watch the Finale online on the 3rd Street Coffeehouse Facebook page: