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White Rallies Nonprofits with Musical

Taking a Stand: A Motivating Musical

By Neill Vining

One local business owner and philanthropist believes there is an urgent issue in Jacksonville that warrants swift attention. Mike White, president of Client Focused Media, has a fervent determination to bring awareness to the city’s homeless epidemic. He is taking a stand and motivating other leaders in the community to join him.  Jacksonville businesses are teaming up on a project called Another Sign – The Musical, with the objective to raise money and awareness for a problem they feel is overlooked by many in the community.

White says he was inspired to take action after an encounter with a homeless man that he knew as a previous client. “He was a chef at a local restaurant with a wife, kids, and a nice home. About six months after the restaurant failed, I ran into him on the street downtown. The clean shaven man I once knew was sitting on a bench, shaking and talking to himself.”

White never approached the man, but was deeply affected by his hardship.  The incident inspired him to write a poem. The poem turned into a song, which eventually flourished into a full script for a musical.

According to the Department of Children and Families, there are 4,000 homeless men, women, and children in Northeast Florida.  One in five homeless people are veterans. Another Sign – The Musical focuses on the different scenarios of homelessness. White says he wants the community to understand that drugs and alcohol are not the only contributing factors. “As we continue to see the job market decline, resulting reductions in monthly personal income accounts for an increase in the number of homeless individuals populating the streets,” White states.

It did not take long for White to start attracting attention to his play. “Businesses immediately came on board after learning about the project.” He currently has over 2,000 financial backers, and a large advisory board comprised of 24 local business leaders.

“I am amazed by how magnified this project’s importance has become. Far beyond it being a musical, it’s a springboard for dialogue, awareness, and solutions for the homeless who live amongst us,” notes Joe Schwarz, Players by the Sea executive director. “It is truly a testament of how the arts not only define a community, they unite us.”

The project has received participation from hundreds of other businesses, local and afar.

Another partner in the production, Alex Sifakis, president of Jacksonville Wealth Builders, says he got on board because he wants to help out in the community. “My company always tries to give back to the community, so when Mike told me what he was doing, I knew I had to get involved.”

Sifakis says that his company makes sure to give back in as many ways as possible, and getting involved in this particular project was a perfect fit. “We provide quality housing to people in Jacksonville, so we understand the impact a home can have on a family. We want to help to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have a home. No one should be living on the street.”

For the long term, White hopes to take the production to other cities. “My plan is for this musical to travel around the country raising money and awareness for homelessness outreach organizations, while continuing to raise money for our Jacksonville nonprofits.”

According to White, WJCT will be filming a documentary around Another Sign – The Musical and anticipates other public broadcast affiliates to air it in additional cities.

Another Sign – The Musical will raise money for 15 non-profit organizations in Jacksonville, including the Clara White Mission, Salzbacher Center, and Hubbard House.  White says he is inspired by all of the interest the production has received. “There are so many volunteers. The entire community has gotten behind it which is the coolest thing.”

Another Sign – The Musical will run from September 25-30 at the Wilson Center for the Arts at Florida State College, South Campus. Tickets can be purchased over the phone at (904) 394-7196 or online at www.ItsAnotherSign.com.

Photos by Craig Oneal


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