A variety of inmate art work donated by men at San Quentin State Prison was sold at auction in order to raise money for earthquake survivors in Haiti. The benefit named Quentin United for Aid Kindness and Empathy for Haiti or “Q.U.A.K.E. for Haiti” raised more than $2650.
The benefit was hosted by Suzi Jestadt and held at the First United Methodist Church of San Rafael. Jestadt said that it was important for her to support the positive endeavors of the men of San Quentin and reported that one guest thanked her for, “opening up my eyes.” Guests from as far away as South Africa attended the benefit. A guest, whose South African name translates as Patience, brought five original pages of Cole Bienek’s comic book entitled Chronicles of Truth. A 96-year-old lady placed the successful bid on John Sklut’s life-like painting of a bird.
San Quentin’s aid to Haiti follows the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that impacted the lives of millions of people. The purpose of the benefit was not only to raise money in order to aid the people of Haiti in their time of need, but to sustain awareness of the crisis they continue to face.
Wikipedia is quoted as saying that “As of 12 February 2010, an estimated three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian Government reports that between 217,000 and 230,000 people have died, an estimated 300,000 injured, and an estimated 1,000,000 homeless. The death toll is expected to rise.”
After the Men’s Advisory Committee circulated trust withdrawal slips and the Day Of Peace Committee donated most of its reserve funds, men who had no money to give began asking, “What can we do?” Initially we were limited to trust withdrawal slips and institutional fundraisers, art work and hobby crafts. But we decided to think outside the box.
The men involved in the San Quentin Film Project not only contributed to the inside organization of the benefit but created a song and music video entitled “This Is For Haiti.” The goal of the producers is to have the sound track downloaded and 100% of the proceeds designated to an organization working on the ground to provide direct relief and services for the Haitian people.
Early on, TV networks, major papers and radio stations reported how thousands of tons of desperately needed food, water and medical supplies were not reaching the people. Some organizations are said to charge an exorbitant amount of administrative fees. So naturally many of the men who participated in the Q.U.A.K.E for Haiti benefit expressed concerns. The sentiment of the men of San Quentin was and is, “If we are going to give up our heart, sweat and time, we want to make sure that it reaches the people. And we want to make sure the world does NOT forget about Haiti.”
For men who make on the average of 20 cents per hour for their labor, $2650 dollars is a lot of money. But let’s take a look at what has already been and could be accomplished. This benefit connected the talents of otherwise forgotten men with a compassionate community for a worthy cause. This project has built a bridge between the inside and outside communities as items were donated for auction by outside musician Michael Franti, filmmaker Kerry Yo Nakagawa, graphic artist Michael Schwab, mixed martial artist Cung Li and a computer graphics company named Zoltron. Music was performed at the event by renowned guitarist Jose Neto.