Last week I received a phone call while studying for my last final and I almost did not answer it, but I am glad I did. I thought it was a telemarker and was prepared to be a complete douche on the phone. I am glad I answered it without being a huge jerk because it was Nard from Cleveland’s Radio 92.3 letting me know that I won a contest I had entered on the 92.3 website about a week ago.
I won the chance to do community service with Rise Against on Saturday afternoon at the Malachi House in Cleveland and also scored a pair of tickets to the Rise Against / Bad Religion show later that evening.
I was stoked. Not so much for the tickets, but to work next to Rise Against and perform charity work is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Rise Against made the decision a few years ago to give back to the community any way they can to the cities they tour in. Back in 2009, Rise Against made a stop at the Cleveland Food Bank and donated some of their time. This time around they were asked by members of 92.3 if they would like to do some community service at the Malachi House. Without hesitation they agreed to do so and 92.3 put together a contest for five lucky winners and a guest to do work around the Malachi House for a couple of hours.
Let me explain what the Malachi House is all about.
The Malachi House is a house for the terminally ill that is operated on donations only. There is no government funding at all for this house and is the only house (I will not use the world facility as it is not one, it is a house) of its kind in the United States.
Established in 1983, the house is open to anyone who is basically given six-months to live but have no one to care for them or can not afford to pay for the care. Since they opened, they have cared for almost 1600 people.
The house has 17 rooms for the residents and is open to all ages and races. There is no fee for any resident who decides that they wish to stay at the house. Food is provided to them, they are given a clean bed, clothing, and basically anything else to help make their stay more comfortable.
Once I won the contest, I knew immediately who I wanted to come with me so I asked her and of course she said yes. She was as stoked as I was do be able to offer help to an organization as well as hang out with Rise Against so the plan was to head down to good ol’ Ohio City around 12:30p.
We arrived a tad early to the Malachi House Saturday and hung outside of the building looking ever so lost when a very nice lady named Alice Sawyers poked her head out of the entrance and asked if we were volunteers and let us inside. Once the other contest winners arrived, we all went into a lower-level conference room where Sawyers gave everyone a little history about the Malachi House.
Sawyers, a volunteer coordinator, made us all aware that the Malachi House was in fact a house and not a facility. She was very passionate about talking of this one-of-a-kind organization. Once the band arrived, she gave everyone a tour. We all got to see a huge collection of donated foods and supplies as well as met a couple of residents and even one of the resident’s dog who comes to visit her.
I will admit, it was depressing as hell to listen to her talk about what goes on in the house and then walk through it.
I’ll just say it: People come to die at the Malachi House.
In fact, one of the rooms we were in had a nicely made bed with a heart-shaped pillow and a flower on it. Sawyers informed everyone that when someone passes they leave the heart-shaped pillow and flower for 24-48 hours as tribute to their friend who stayed at the house.
I am not going to lie, that was a little rough to learn. I know I am not the only one who felt that way in the room.
The positive aspect of the house though is that these people who may have had a tough life in the past are given a chance to live comfortably until they pass on. Hospice care comes to the house daily as there are no in-house medical personnel. Basically those who chose to live their final days at Malachi are provided with everything possible at no charge to them.
The donations that keep the Malachi House running come in all forms including food, clothing, and of course money. Sawyers mentioned to us that someone recently donated $5000 and then dropped another check off a couple of days later for $20,000 because the lady who donated the money had bad eyesight and meant to have a check cut for $25,000.
Nice to know there are still good people out there.
The volunteer work was basically light housekeeping and landscaping in and around the house. Tim McIlrath (lead singer/guitarist) and Brandon Barnes (drums) went inside with half of the crew to clean up some of the rooms. I chose to work outside when asked if I would help clean up a parking lot. Zach Blair (lead guitarist), Nard (radio awesomeness), and three sweet ladies (looks like I picked the right group…) joined me in doing so.
In all seriousness though, it was cool to help out the Malachi House do maintenance to the beds that surrounded the lot as well as clean up the debris with Zach and the others. He was a cool dude and told me why Rise Against started giving back to the community.
He in a nutshell told me that they were tired of the bullshit promotions they were asked to do. Were he was totally for meet and greets with fans, he was tired of doing stupid events like racing go-karts and other nonsense. The band all agreed that they wanted to do something where they would not only be able to meet fans but also give back to the communities they toured at.
I should mention Nard tried his best to romance Zach and gave him a flower that might have been accidentally picked. Note: Zach was not wearing the flower during the show later that night. Sorry man, it was not meant to be!
Before I knew it, it was time for the band to head out and do a sound check down the street at the newly named Jacobs Pavilion (I still call it Nautica). All the members of Rise Against made sure that all of the volunteers got some pictures and autographs prior to heading out.
I’ve always liked Rise Against since they first dropped The Unraveling in 2001 and have dug all of their releases since. Hanging out with them at the Malachi House though brought a stronger appreciation for them as people though. They are a bunch of good people who just so happen to rock out nightly. They did not help at the Malachi House because they had to, they did it because they wanted to. That right there I am a fan of.
The show that night was amazing. I went as a fan and not a reviewer or critic. I left my notepad and pen at home and just took in a concert for me with a few good people and thousands of fans. Bad Religion was already playing when I got there which was depressing as it was about 8 o’clock when we arrived… As bummed as I was, I soaked in their top notch performance – like I would expect anything else.
Rise Against took the stage to the sold out crowd and proceeded to just rock out and entertain. It was awesome, and that’s all I am going to say about that. If you were there, I know you will agree…
Thanks 92.3 for putting together this great contest. I know I was not the only one moved by it.
Special thanks to webmaster Carl Harp at WNCX/WKRK for hooking me up with some photos from the Malachi House event.
For more information about the Malachi House, I encourage you to check out their website www.malachihouse.org. As I mentioned before, it is a one-of-a-kind organization that truly is there to help the ones in absolute need. I know I am already planning a way to give to the Malachi House as I was so touched by what they do. With all that goes on in the world daily, it is so nice to see a group of people who just want to help folk out who have no one else to go to.