The Prodigal Altar Boy

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Prodigal Altar Boy - I Just Want to Thank You

I Just Want to Thank You
I achieved a quite a bit in the time between early January to early Spring.  I feel my absence in the blogosphere gives the impression nothing is going on, so I shared an update I sent to my Advisory Board.  Like life (wait, it has been life), the last few months had its peaks and valleys, successes and failures, wishes and realities.  The one constant has been an outpouring of support from all corners, support from people who loved TQ, people who believe in the project, people who believe in me, and that special subset of folks who do all three.  I alternate between pinching myself and reminding myself how blessed I am.   I just want to thank you.  

At the top of my thank you list is my family.  My mother, my wife and my children (Calvin III and Candice) may not always understand why I do what I do, but they always support.  My mother was the one who egged me on when I met resistance to filming TQ’s funeral.  Not only did she put me in contact with the decision makers, she was the one to remind me I had to get in there and fight for my documentary.  Those were word that echoed from my childhood from a other who always pushed me to finish what I started and to fight for my right to express myself.  My wife stood at my side from day one, pitching in one night when we had to stuff, seal and stamp eight hundred envelopes for the first fundraising effort.  She was the one to donate the money for postage (“…I’d like 800 first class stamps, please…”).  I’m blessed to have a family that support me and supports the project.  Thank you.

Advisory Board
I also want to thank my Advisory Board, a diverse and august collection of souls who bring myriad talents and insight to the project.  Their talent, wisdom and love combined into a critical mass that drive the decisions behind the major milestones of this project.  From partnering with Karen Everett for story consultation to joining her Inner Circle 6 and crafting the fundraising letter, the Advisory Board took time out of their busy (busy, busy) lives to make my project a priority and impart their wisdom, love and support.  Thank you.

When my mother reached to to Vernon Roberts to get a copy of TQ’s mailing list, I saw an opportunity to spread the word about the film and take the first step in fundraising.  Like all first steps, mailing thos people, many who did not know me, was filled with trepidation, but I did it.  At last night’s Good Friday service, a guest pastor, talking about stepping out on faith exhorted, “LEAP, but don’t look.”  The fundraising letters were a big leap that paid off in more than money raised.  As each check came in, it became less about the amount of the check and more about the intent behind each check.  Every donation was reinforcement for the project.  Some donors enclosed notes with their personal “TQ Stories” and words of encouragement to continue my work on the film.  Every donation, every note came at a time I needed it.  Whether it was a check that would allow me to pay for animation or note of support when I was wondering why I was doing what I was doing, every time I needed something, some stranger out there would take time out of their day, and money out of their wallet to remind me how important this work is.  Even as donations drop off, some of the initial donors are making second and third donations, which humbless me.  If you can dip down into your resources again, I know I can double down and bring this project home.  I want to thank each and every one of you.
The Trouble with TQ Donor Roll
  • Carrie J. Hughes
  • Toni Fesel
  • Minnie Thomas
  • Nancy Dixon
  • Mary Emmert
  • Bruce McKenna
  • Eugene Strelka
  • Fr. John Dorgan
  • William J. Griggs
  • John & Katie Zawacki
  • Eileen Kanzler
  • Hank & Claire Tessandori
  • Pete & Margie Langlands
  • Richard Mooney
  • Rev. Francis J. Gargani
  • Hal & Sally Neher
  • William T. Prince
  • Tom & Mary McFeely
  • Linda & Garry Cooke
  • Ed & Maureen Marroni
  • John Lane
  • Christopher Schafer
  • Walter and Alveta Green
  • Rich and Gina Wightman
  • Joan Williams (continuing donor)
  • Bridget Browne
  • Elnora P. Green (my high school guidance counselor!)
  • Sal Vitale
  • Kathleen Waugh
  • Joseph McDonough
  • Jone Langlands
  • Young Ja Jun
  • Mary Minkowski
  • Rev. David Ungerleider
  • Jean and Bob Young (continuing donors)
  • Sisters of Notre Dame
  • Bob & Adele DellaValle-Rauth
  • John Buford
  • Kathy Heatwole
  • Mrs. Jean Thompson
  • Mr. James Wilson Jr.
  • Eileen Lyver
  • Charlotte Pacheco
  • Rev. Louis Benoit
  • Kim Howell
  • Kathy Dowdy
  • Bridget Browne
  • Amber Medalla
  • Howard and Sarah Malloy
  • C. Douglas and J. Claudette Starrett
  • Arthur T. McNeill
  • Virginia D. Williams
  • John & Mary Ryan
  • Mary Moran
  • Winnie Flora

I also want to thank the Baltimore artist community.  Painters, animators, graphic designers, web designers and photographers.  The work you have done for the project brings this film to the next level, beyond anything I couldhave imagined.  When I talk to an artist about what I need, I always have in mind what I think it should look like, but I learned early on that I’m paying artists to be artists and their best work comes when they inject their vision into the piece.  Les Yocum, Shannon Corbeil, Jesse Wieman,  Kimberly Mayer, Roberta Hoffman and Anna Pasqualucci created pieces above and beyond anything I could have imagined.  I will cover them in depth in the next blog post, showing their work and sharing a quick story about each.  Thank you.

In Conclusion...
Well, they’re playing the music cue that means my time is up (heh heh).  I just want to thank you all for everything you’ve done for me.  Thank you for believing in me.  I won’t let you down.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


The Highlights

  • Consultation with Karen Everett
  • Plans for WIP screening in Norfolk continue
  • Donations continue at diminished level, fundraising at crossroads


ü  Phone conference with story consultant Karen Everett took place 21 March 2013.  The upshot is Karen sees progress and has suggestions for the way forward.  I will digest her notes (written, video and audio recording) and apply those to the cut.  The result will be what I take to Norfolk.


ü  Speaking of Norfolk, I placed an ad for the WIP screening in the bulletins for St. Mary’s.  Kathleen McBlair (, publisher of TQ’s book, “A Reluctant Malachi,” has given screening information to the staff at Holy Family (Virginia beach) for inclusion in their bulletin.  I have exchanged emails with one family at St. Kateri to spread the news there.

ü  I printed 50 additional posters to sell at the WIP screening

ü  Printed address labels to send tickets to the current donor list.  For tickets I repurposed postcards I printed to update the mailing list.  I bought custom labels and turned the postcards into tickets.  Admission is free, but I am asking people to request tickets.  I built a ticket tool for the web site, and put a snail mail address on all the advertising so people can write for tickets.  My thinking with the ticket strategy is I want to collect the tickets at the screening to:

1.      Assess, out of how many tickets requests, how many actually attended, and

2.      Continue to build out the email and snail mail address lists for further fundraising.


ü  Donations continue to come in, albeit at a diminished rate.  A few donors are making second donation as well as sustaining donations.

ü  Fundraising is at a crossroads.  We are at the limits of how much fundraising TQ’s mailing list can produce.  The WIP screening will be the transition from TQ’s mailing list (of course leveraging emails culled from that list) to Crowdfunding. 
I took delivery of the piece that will be the last in a series of paintings based on images from the film.  Anna Pasqualucci, a Baltimore screen painter, dropped off a painting based on TQ's "Chock Full O'Nuts can.  Anna took a picture of the can and other images to create a 3D piece that exceeded my expectations.  Check it out: