Community event raises funds for COVID-19 relief, promotes vaccines
A group of local bands performed at Chase Palm Park Saturday in a benefit concert called “Fiesta with a Mission,” which sought to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts locally and internationally.
The event was sponsored by the Resiliency Institute and featured performances from five local bands — Mariachi Real, Heart & Soul, Mezcal Martini, Savor and Sonora. Locals set up folding chairs and blankets to watch the show, which ran from noon to 7:30 p.m. Despite the event’s name, “Fiesta with a Mission” was not associated with any Old Spanish Days celebrations.
The goal of the benefit concert was to raise relief funds for nations hit hardest by COVID-19. All of the proceeds collected during the event will be donated to the Sri Lankan Medical Foundation and Direct Relief, which is providing aid in nations like India and Mexico.
Jacqueline Inda, the founder of the Resilience Institute, told the News-Press that the event’s participating bands came up with the idea to host a benefit concert, which would double as a way to promote the vaccine among the bands’ closest followers. Ms. Inda said in addition to raising funds for COVID-19 relief efforts, the event sought to provide vaccines to hesitant community members, particularly second and third generation family members in the Latino community.
“Most people consider doing outreach as having nonprofits go out and explain the message of vaccines, but there’s something different when an artist that you really like and that you really follow or a band that you really like and really follow says ‘hey, you know, let’s get together. Let’s do this for everybody else,” Ms. Inda told the News-Press. “Sometimes, when (the message) comes peer-to-peer in that way, it makes a world of difference than an organization talking about how safe it might be.”
Prior to Saturday’s event, the Resiliency Institute partnered with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department throughout July to host pop-up clinics at a food bank on Bath Street. That effort continued on Saturday at the event, as local attendees had the chance to get the vaccine at a pop-up booth at Chase Palm Park.
Jeff Davis, a member of the Mezcal Martini band, told the News-Press that participating in Saturday’s event was not only a way to give back to a good cause, but also to celebrate the ability to play in-person shows once again.
“Bands have been cooped up for 18 months, the public has been cooped up that long, it was a great way to get out,” Mr. Davis said.
When organizing the event, Mr. Davis said he and the other organizers wanted to promote the fact that the main reason in-person events were possible again was because people are getting the vaccine. By promoting the vaccines to their regular followers, Mr. Davis said the bands were hopeful they could support the vaccine uptake locally.
“The idea was to help get vaccinations to not only the local underserved population… (but also) as a means of supporting vaccinations in other parts of the world that were hurting,” Mr. Davis said.
Among the dozens gathered at Chase Palm Park on Saturday was Kim Anderson-Flores, a native of Santa Barbara. She and her husband, Marco, often attended concerts at Chase Palm Park before the pandemic, which were free to the public.
She noted that Saturday’s event was significantly scaled back compared to the traditional Thursday events, adding that she had hoped to see more familiar faces during Saturday’s concert.
Yet, despite the smaller crowd, she said her and her husband, Marco, were happy to be back out and dancing again. They could be seen twirling and twisting to the music during Saturday’s concert.
“What brought us out was we love the music, and we love the fact that we could benefit the community (by being here),” Ms. Anderson-Flores told the News-Press.