Nashville street paper The Contributor brought in $55,000 at their first-ever fundraising breakfast in March.
The event took place at Music City Center and featured a keynote address from Nashville’s newly-elected first female mayor, Megan Barry, as well as many other high-profile attendees.
But the star of the show was vendor Mary B, whose working day was revealed through a film made especially for the fundraiser.
The movie shows Mary getting ready at four in the morning in her new apartment, preparing for a day of paper sales.
She then walks with her bag full of papers to the bus stop. Once at her pitch, the film shows her waving, smiling and selling the paper to her customers, all as the sun is just coming up. [Watch the film below.]
Following the film, Mary spoke about her personal struggles with addiction, prostitution, and homelessness – and how The Contributor has helped her. She said, “I love my job. This is my job, and it saved my life.”
Executive director of The Contributor, Brady Banks, said the breakfast had been a “smashing success”.
He added: “We were told by professional event planners that we needed at least six to nine months lead-up time for a major fundraiser. We pulled it off in two months! We’re very proud of the work everyone put into it. The number of attendees, amount raised, high profile guests and keynote speaker, and stories of our vendors all added up to a tremendous fundraiser.”
The breakfast was a massive show of support from the Nashville community following a recent legislative threat to the way that The Contributor is sold.
In mid-March – following stiff opposition, including from INSP – Councilman Steve Glover scrapped his proposed legislation that would have outlawed the primary way vendors sell the street paper.
In what Brady referred to as “a wholly unexpected twist”, Councilman Glover not only attended the fundraising breakfast, but also donated to support The Contributor.
Other special guests at the breakfast included 15 of the 40-member Nashville Metro Council; U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper; Tennessee state representatives; local judges and magistrates.
“The recent threats from a Metro Nashville city council member to eliminate the sale of newspapers from the public right-of-way in Nashville was a cause for concern at The Contributor,” Brady admitted.
“What we realised fairly quickly, though, is that the Nashville community has a very positive view of our brand and our business model. Our Metro Council is very supportive of the work we do and a supermajority was against the legislation.
“Our first-ever annual fundraising event was evidence of the broad support we have throughout the community and the depth of relationships our vendors have with their customers.”