A Columbus-based nonprofit organization that assists aging and disabled adults and their families is getting a boost this weekend through the efforts of a high school student.
Columbus North senior Cassie Sprague, 17, has organized a concert for 7 p.m. Saturday at Columbus East High School’s auditorium to benefit Just Friends Adult Day Services.
Spencer Kane, an Indiana-based Top 40 singer whose music has made the Billboard charts, will headline the concert. It features the Life of Carter alternative rock band and The George Twins, consisting of Jordan and Tyler George, and introduces Melissa Maynard and Sierra White. The concert will offer a mix of indie-label, Christian, alternative and pop-style music.
Sprague developed an interest in event planning a few years ago, and said she wants to pursue it for a career. She wanted to plan an event for her senior project, but initially wasn’t sure what to do.
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“I wanted to choose an organization that people maybe didn’t know a lot about,” said Sprague, the daughter of Tom and Brenda Sprague.
In the summer of 2016, Sprague sought assistance from a relative, Robin Hilber, who used to work at North and was involved with senior projects.
“She said she wanted to donate proceeds to a not-for-profit,” Hilber said.
“We talked about several different organizations, some of them focused on youth and all very worthy. But I suggested Just Friends Day Adult Services because we, unfortunately, live in a culture that doesn’t revere the older generation for their wisdom and experience as other cultures do and, therefore, we don’t provide as much financial or emotional support for this population,” said Hilber, a Just Friends board member.
Hilber, who works in the city community development department, has served on the organization’s board for five years. Hilber’s mother worked for Just Friends for about 15 years and Hilber’s father attended when he was alive.
A week after the suggestion, Sprague said she wanted to organize a benefit concert for Just Friends, which became the student’s senior project, Hilber said.
“It seems like a really great organization that hasn’t had a lot of recognition,” Sprague said.
Funds raised by the concert will be a great help to the organization financially because the money will fund scholarships for adults who receive services and pay general operational expenses, Hilber said.
Just Friends accept vouchers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicaid waivers, and some long-term care policies pay for services, but many people pay privately and struggle to pay, Hilber said.
“We have a sliding scale based on ability to pay. But we still operate at a loss. That’s where Cassie’s project is so important to us,” Hilber said.
Sprague said she had to raise $5,000 to cover costs for the concert — such as performance fees, hotels and food. That required contacting and meeting with local companies to get their support. Sprague said it took a few months, but she raised the required amount through seven sponsors.
“I am so proud of Cassie. She has done a phenomenal job in organizing this concert,” Hilber said.
She isn’t the only one who has been impressed with Sprague’s efforts.
Kane’s father, Patrick Hess, who manages his son’s career, was so impressed with her efforts that he hired her for an internship at the Kendallville-based company, Day 6 Management, and she helps book concerts throughout the nation for Kane and other artists.
Sprague attends school half a day and works on her internship the other half.
What: Concert to benefit Just Friends Adult Day Services in Columbus
When: 7 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 6.
Where: Columbus East High School’s auditorium, 230 S. Marr Road.
Cost: $10 at the door.
For more information: go online to the Just Friends Benefit Concert page on Facebook