Delivering the Good for Caritas Connections – part one

A frame from the new Caritas Connections video.

A frame from the new Caritas Connections video.

Caritas Connections is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization that collects donated items and distributes them at no cost, to worthy organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area, who in turn use them to clothe, feed and assist the needy in our community.

I’ve been involved with Caritas for a number of years – first working on kind of a subset of the organization that collected laptops and distributed them to ex-offenders and then becoming a board member about three years ago. Previously, my biggest contribution was helping them re-fresh their newsletter look with a new name and design (courtesy of Madeleine Neuner) and then writing content for each edition.

Caritas never had an overview video before – since they’re a not-for-profit, they have always been extremely conservative when it comes to spending money. But the topic continued to come up at our board meetings. As circumstance would have it, I had a lunch back in December with Scott Huegerich, who is a managing partner at Aligned Media.

Scott and I have worked on many projects together during the course of my career. He’s a tremendous editor as well as a super nice guy. I asked him whether Aligned had ever done  any work with other not for profits and when I told him about the type of work that Caritas Connections does throughout the St. Louis metro area, he was intrigued.

When I brought up the possibility of creating a new video to our board, they enthusiastically told me to go for it. So I developed several script overviews, eventually settling on two directions that I presented to our board as well as the team at Aligned Media.

Ultimately, we had a unanimous decision on “Delivering the Good”, which tells the story of what, how and why Caritas does what it does through the words of our volunteers and clients.

It’s about a five minute video overall and it lives on the home page of our new Caritas Connections website. I invite you to watch it by clicking here.

Getting all the footage and interviews for the video was no easy task. I began by going out on several delivery runs with Father Tom Bryon in the Caritas Connections van. Those involved some early start times – meeting Father at the Caritas garage at 5 am and then hitting the road.

While making these runs, I used my iPhone to take a lot of video. Many of those shots ended up in the finished product but the bulk of the footage (and all of the live videos) were a result of Scott Smith who handled the camerawork and Brad Brueggeman who captured all of our interviews in a variety of locales on audio.

I put together a ridiculous production schedule for our shoot, starting at 7 am and involving ten different locations in both St. Louis city and county, filming people who had never been on camera before. What could possibly go wrong?

Our worst mishap came when we were interviewing the driver of our van, who made an unexpected quick stop which sent Brad, who was sitting on a milk crate manning the mic into the back of the driver’s seat. Other than a minor scratch to his forehead, everything turned out okay.

Our in-van interview session had a few bumps along the way.

Our in-van interview session had a few bumps along the way.

Once we had all of our footage, Aligned provided me a time-coded version of it and I went to work crafting the story, adding sub-titles where I thought things needed more emphasis.

Chris Myers did a great job with the edit and somehow, the stock music piece that I selected seemed just right for the video.

Originally, we were going to showcase the video at the annual Caritas Connections golf tournament that takes place in May. But that got pushed back, and then cancelled completely. So now it lives on the website.

The message is fairly timeless.

A special thanks goes out to all the people in the video as well as everyone who had a hand in making it happen.

Lots of volunteers were happy to help in telling the Caritas story.

Lots of volunteers were happy to help in telling the Caritas story.

Caritas Connections is a tremendous organization doing a lot of good for this community and the need for what they do seems to continue to grow. It’s my hope that this video can help in some way – maybe someone will volunteer their services or choose to donate to the organization.

If that’s the case, it will be well worth the effort that went into making it.


This Painting Will Have You Seeing Double

"Seeing Double" - 48" x 36", acrylic on canvas

“Seeing Double” – 48″ x 36″, acrylic on canvas

From time to time, I like to share info about some of my recent paintings. The one shown here is called, “Seeing Double” – for rather obvious reasons. My objective was to try and have the moons be close to identical and though they are close, they’re certainly not exact.

So what led me to create this painting? Recently, I seem to get some visual idea stuck in my head. So I feel somewhat obligated to pursue it. In this particular instance, I kept thinking of two moons in the night sky.

Why? Perhaps in this upside down world of ours where everything seems to be a little out of whack, two moons make perfect sense.

Or not.

Regardless, I knew I had to do a painting featuring two moons. So then I tried to think of different scenarios. One was going to be an apartment building roof with a large structure in the middle – maybe the rooftop exit. On either side, I was going to have two individuals staring off at the night sky, each looking at a respective moon. In another sketch, I had a couple sitting out under the night sky, each pointing to a different moon.

Ultimately, I decided on a fairly innocuous couple standing at the edge of a suburban style neighborhood lit up at night. (I decided to give the man a bowler hat just for the fun of it.)

In this version, it’s like they’re on the crest of a hill, looking out on suburbia and the two moons in the sky. The couple form a sort of triangulation with the two moons and I like the balance of that. It makes it all appear somewhat normal – even though two moons in a night sky are far from normal.

That’s kind of how I feel about things these days. There is the semblance of normalcy – yet nothing is quite right, no matter how you look at it. Still, it’s a beautiful world and we are blessed to be living in it. If your faith is strong, hopefully, that’s as easy to see as two moons in the night sky.

In addition to being a writer by day, I’m also a painter at night who is slowly gaining an international reputation. If you’re ever interested in purchasing anything, you can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida on an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!


Posted in Art