The DEF hosts its first fundraising concert


Molly Peisner

On November 19, 2021, the Decatur Education Foundation hosted their first fundraising event in twenty-two months since the beginning of the pandemic. Held in Decatur High School’s newly renovated student center, the songwriting club was invited to perform a concert. Tickets to this event sold for fifty dollars and all proceeds were given to Joe’s Fund. Joe’s Fund was created after Joe Bodine, a 2015 Decatur High School graduate, passed away from addiction and substance abuse in 2016. Founded the same year by Bodine’s mother, (Lori Heeman) was Joe’s Fund, an organization dedicated to the improvement of the mental health for students.

Heeman spoke prior to the concert on what the ticket money would directly fund. “We have all of the counselor appointments filled at the moment and we still have more students waiting. We need to have counselors available to every student who needs one.”

Heeman is referring to the recent implementation of counseling available to students. This was something that the DEF introduced with the reopening of the student center on May 5, 2021.

Gale Rothman, executive director of the DEF and organizer of the concert, designed this event to be the first in a series of student-oriented events. “This is just the first of many events we hope to have in the future; we could have poetry readings, dance performances, anything that would set an example of positive expression.” Rothman expressed how having creativity freely displayed promotes positive mental health and community throughout the school. 

In addition to the student performers, local coffee shop Refugee Coffee catered for the event. Rothman discussed the reasons for this stating, “We wanted to have an event not based around alcohol to show students that it doesn’t need to be involved to have fun.” With numbers of teen substance abuse higher than they have been in years, the decision to serve coffee was of importance to the DEF. 

The guests were seated facing the back wall that served as the makeshift stage for the concert as the first performer and the host of the event, Caroline Herring, sat down with a guitar in her lap. Caroline Herring is a singer-songwriter living in Decatur, Georgia. 

She began with saying “I love how music gives us a great opportunity to experience collected effervescence.” 

Following Herring, five students from the songwriting club performed a variety of original and cover songs. Payton Kashdan, the junior representative of the club, and the last performer at the event, discussed her passion for the concert.“I love performing and when the songwriting club gave me the opportunity to support this great cause, I was really excited. I’m super happy that we get to be the first people to preform here; it’s really special.”