AMIDST THE LATEST technology hype, there are personal stories in the Silicon Alley that rarely get told. Here is one. Brett Leveridge publishes the well-known Brett News online zine and works as features editor for Barnes & Noble's new Web site. Brett has a sister who is getting out of an abusive marriage and needs support.
When confronted with the realities of his desire to help out his sister financially, he went to the first place he thought of for support -- ECHO, the New York digital community. Brett privately contacted about 125 people there about a Benefit he is having to raise money for his sister's legal and medical bills, slated for next Friday, Oct. 24. He has not told his sister he is doing this yet, but she's not a wired person and isn't likely to know until he presents her with a big check and lots of cards.
The initial response was overwhelming and highly gratifying. Stacy Horn, founder of ECHO, has been especially supportive and has offered a door prize of six months free on this virtual community. Branching out from ECHO, Brett also sent an e-mail out to the Silicon Alley mailing list, created to support the need for community, non-technical, and design issues that came up on the WWWAC list. People he didn't even know sent e-mails saying they would come and bring friends. He has received lots of encouraging notes from women, for whom he feels this issue must resonate. Many more people who cannot attend but want to make a contribution sent supportive e-mails. The first check (for $50) arrived this Wednesday, from someone who can't attend.
Horn's ECHO mantra goes like this: "the online connection isn't complete until you meet someone off-line." Leveridge is seeing the power of the medium to bring people together in the real space. He believes the fundraiser will bring together many people who actually know each other from prior events. All the money from the benefit will go directly to Leveridge's sister and he is personally handling all expenses, mailing of flyers, transportation, and other incidentals. He has also arranged for three friends that are New York musicians to perform and a second door prize of a massage therapy session.
The contribution suggestion is $10 for the benefit. For more information, check out http://www.brettnews.com/benefit and see if you can help.
(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)