Hurricane Florence was not ILM’s first hurricane, nor will it be the last. Despite the hardships it causes, Wilmingtonians know how to help each other bounce back. Come hell or high water, Wilmington will get over Flo. Downtown businesses, organizations, artists, musicians, and others are working together to make sure it happens.
Throughout the month of October 2018, folks can follow a series of #OverFlo actions, events, donation opportunities, business specials/deals, and more to benefit hurricane relief efforts.
“We are currently signing up business owners to offer specials that will include a donation back to the #OverFlo campaign,” says co-organizer Ed Wolverton, also president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown, Inc. “We expect to have dozens of specials by the October 6. We’ll continually update the list as more come in (www.overflowilmington.org).”
The goal is to raise money for area nonprofits, including Nourish NC, Salvation Army, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC at Wilmington, Good Shepherd Center,and Cape Fearless Challenge. The hope is to add more as well.
Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, Wake n Bake, Pour Taproom, Hell’s Kitchen, Art in Bloom, and more have signed on to help. For example, Front Street Brewery is offering $1 from every Oktoberfest beer or chicken nachos order to go back to #OverFlo. Local musician Travis Shallow will donate all online merch proceeds throughout the month. A benefit concert is in the works, too.
“The beauty of the campaign name is it lends itself to multiple meanings and applications,” Wolverton observes. “First, we all want to get over Hurricane Florence as quickly as possible. We also wanted highlight the many roles that downtown fulfills for the community.”
“We wanted one harmonious voice to encourage and maximize fundraising within the community,” adds Over Flo co-organizer Billy Mellon, who also owns manna.
“This gives us a way to further integrate downtown’s diverse economic offerings into the campaign,” Wolverton continues. “Everyone can stand under this umbrella.”
Each week of October offers various ways to participate:
Week of Oct. 1: Freestyle Over Flo
Week of Oct. 8 Food & Drinks Over Flo
Week of Oct. 15: Music Over Flo (the centerpiece is a free concert on Saturday, October 20 at in the shared lot behind Fork-N-Cork and Rebellion NC.)
Week of Oct. 22: Arts Over Flo (the centerpiece is Fourth Friday Gallery Walk)
#OverFlo has a fundraising goal of $100k. If met, it will be matched by private donor Friends from Iowa.
encore spoke with Wolverton and Mellon to learn more about #OverFlo and how folks can participate.
encore (e): First off, how did each of you fare during the storm?
Ed Wolverton (EW): With plenty of prep time, my wife and I stocked up on provisions and opted to ride out the storm at home in downtown. It also allowed me to continually monitor conditions of downtown businesses and properties. We also took in a co-worker. We were all very happy when the storm weakened as it came into Wilmington. Some nearby trees fell but missed our house and we had one small roof leak. Overall, very fortunate.
Billy Mellon (BM): My family and I stayed at a friend’s building on 2nd and Red Cross. Unfortunately, the roof was damaged when an air handler was ripped off, causing major leak issues and lots of internal flooding. We would move around that building three times in three days, eventually riding out the back end of Flo at manna.
e: Where did the idea for #OverFlo come from?
EW: Because of WDI’s work on the Downtown Sundown Concert Series, we were approached by multiple people wanting to partner on a benefit concert. Rather than doing our own thing or picking one group to partner with, I opted to bring people together to propose a collaboration. Billy and Justin Smith (Husk, Yo Sake, Dram + Morsel) quickly came on board and brought even more people into the mix. We developed an outline of a larger campaign, and Billy thought it was important to invite more people. I threw out the #OverFlo name, as we needed to call it something. With a one-day notice, Billy hosted a get together that attracted about 50 people. We outlined the idea and people were all on board.
BM: We’ll have more concert details to announce should City Council approve the use of the venue—the shared lot behind Fork-N-Cork and Rebellion NC. This is scheduled for the night of October 20. In addition to music from noon to 8 p.m., we expect to have a kids area and some stop-ins from local leaders and celebrities.
e: Where did the #OverFlo logo come from? Did Trevor Van Meter have this image in mind or was it a collaboration of ideas?
EW: Trevor volunteered his time and talent. Billy really felt we needed to have an open meeting to hear from more people. Trevor is working to open a studio in downtown and was on the email invitation list and attended the meeting. After he heard that we did not have any graphics, he started sketching and inside of three hours [and] sent various ideas. The group instantly gravitated to the one that was selected.
BM: Trevor recently moved to ILM and I have been working with him on some ideas for getting his art out into the public’s eye. I asked him to come to the meeting and after it was over, he sketched and formulated what would become our logo. He will assist our committee in the art sector of the group.
e: Tell us more about the $10,000 fundraising goal and how the matching pledge from Friends of Iowa came about.
EW: Billy and Justin brought Beth Crookham into the mix as she was strong ties to the theater and film communities. Beth is from Iowa and had contacts there who wanted to make a donation in light of support they have received through the years to address damage from tornadoes and other disasters. Beth pitched the challenge grant idea and the Iowa donors quickly agreed.
e: What are you most excited to see come from the #OverFlo series?
BM: the message of solidarity; the voice from several people speaking toward a common humanitarian idea of helping out our neighbors. There are people who have nothing now, and it is our responsibility to change that for the better. We have to unify and make a difference in those people’s lives who are effectively starting over.
e: Will the campaign only continue through October? Could it go longer?
BM: Our efforts are “ending” at the end of October, but we hope to encourage other groups and people to look for ways to help out and use the #OverFlo message/logo, for as long as it continues to be a clear passage to assistance. There are some other concerts and ideas floating around the community that couldn’t fit in the October timeframe, but we won’t stop our efforts at the end of the month.
EW: The group wanted to do more than just a one-shot deal for a concert so we fleshed out the #OverFlo campaign so it could last for a longer period of time. . . . We know a couple of art groups are planning to extend the campaign into December to accommodate additional fundraising ideas.
e: How can area businesses and organizations get involved?
EW: Businesses can sign up by going to the website at www.overflowilmington.org or calling WDI at 910-763-7349. People can donate on the website or text a donation at 910-817-4301. We will have a need for volunteers at the October 20 concert. Call WDI or email firstname.lastname@example.org.