TORRINGTON — Jacque Williams, a city resident who is a recording artist, DJ and WZBG radio personality, is looking to raise spirits — and help those in need — through a new EP to be released Friday.
Williams is doing this on behalf of his nonprofit, Culture For A Cause, “to stay in compliance with our mission to build community through the arts,” he said.
“This effort is an attempt to demonstrate the power of collaboration and to illustrate the arts as an effective tool in economic development,” said Williams, who is a dedicated supporter of the FISH shelter and a strong advocate for helping people in need. “My goal is to make this endeavor an example of the potential of what collective community impact can look like through the utilization of social media.”
The release party for the EP is being presented live online Friday night, starting at 8 p.m. Invitations will be provided, Williams said. The mood will be festive, he said, but he’s also invited people who are well aware of the plight of hungry families in the city including Friendly Hands’ Executive Director Karen Thomas; FISHExecutive Director Deirdre DiCara; George Craig, board chairman of the Torrington Soup Kitchen; and state Rep. Michelle Cook, D-Torrington.
“We’ll be discussing the urgency of the hunger and homeless problem in our region and what remedies we have, going forward, that can unite our community and revive our economy,” Williams said.
DiCara has worked with Williams for years, and said he is extremely supportive of the shelter’s work and that of Friendly Hands. When she heard about his idea to sell his EP and collaborate with her and the food bank, she was “beyond grateful,” she said.
“I realized that his effort is going to benefit all of us who are working with a hungry and vulnerable population,” she said.
The EP’s release as a fundraiser works by having FISH, Friendly Hands and the soup kitchen put Williams’ video on their respective websites. “We will direct traffic to these websites to help with their fundraising efforts, and if this strategy gains traction, we’ll seek out other artists to participate and donate their works, and become partners,” Williams said.
“I’m announcing my partnership for my nonprofit with the local food bank, by setting up a situation with the food banks where people can download the music and all the proceeds will go to that food bank,” he said. “It will be the same as if you were downloading from Amazon or anything like that.”
Williams said he was struck by the need in the community last Saturday, when he attended a food drive at Friendly Hands. “The cars waiting in line (for food) went from King Street all the way down to Route 8,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s an example of the great need that’s out there, that’s under the radar. I think people are so involved with other things, they don’t realize what’s going on. There’s a real problem here.”
At FISH, DiCara is in the midst of the holiday season, which involves accepting food drive donations, collecting toys and other gifts for the shelter’s many families, and feeding residents of the shelter daily, all the while protecting everyone from COVID-19. She appreciates the help she gets from people like Williams.
“During our rally for the homeless every year, Jacque comes and sets up his PA system and plays music for the people who participate, and he also provides music for our ‘Tasteful’ fundraiser that we’ve held in the past,” she said. “He’s a real community person. I feel lucky that he came into my life and is so willing to help us.”
At the food bank, Thomas is busy with similar activities; there’s no shelter, but she said recently that more and more families are showing up for food assistance every day. She also encouraged groups and individuals not to forget the food bank after the holidays.
“In January, our shelves are empty,” she said. “We need to keep the donations coming in, because after Thanksgiving and Christmas, people still have to eat. People are still struggling financially to feed their families.”
Maureen “Mo” Hubert, founder of Friendly Hands, died in 2019. Before her death, she asked Williams if he would help the food bank.
“I promised her that I would, and with everything going on, my plans were delayed,” he said. “This pandemic is something none of us expected, but we have to try. … Let’s try it, and see if it works. Other artists can come into the fold and demonstrate the power of the arts. We can build a solid partnership to fill their needs.”
Williams is confident his city will step up to help.
Torrington has a unique component to it, in terms of how people rally around these social causes,” he said. “So if we can highlight this initiative and have some success, other artists will say ‘Hey, maybe this is a way to use our art for collective community impact.’ What better way to do that, than to show we can get through this pandemic, in a healthy way.”
To donate to FISH or for more information, visit www.fishnwct.org or call 860-482-7300. To donate to the Community Soup Kitchen, visit www.torringtonsoupkitchen.com or call 860- 482-0130. To donate to Friendly Hands Food Bank, visit https://friendlyhandsfoodbanknwct.org or call 860-482-3338.