‘Hero’ Compilation Albums at Heart of Santa Cruz Homeless Fundraising Effort – Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — In the early afternoon hours of this month’s First Friday celebration, Randy Reyes was still working his yard.

On a red electric scooter leaning against a closed storefront in the EC Rittenhouse building, Reyes began playing a few tunes from his phone through a new speaker acquired for the effort. He had spread out a black Santa Cruz T-shirt on the nearby sidewalk with four copies of the “Hero” album displayed. The album covers suggested a $20 donation for each.

The nonprofit organization Harmonic Humanity came to Santa Cruz with the goal of employing homeless people as salespeople for a compilation album of donated music. (Jessica A. York – Sentinel of Santa Cruz)

“It might put you in a quiet state of mind,” Reyes said, describing his take on more than a dozen tracks donated by a compilation of artists including Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, Michael Franti and Sarah McLachlan.

Reyes is one of the newest providers for Seattle-based Harmonic Humanity, a music and art-based effort to employ homeless people. The bulk of the registered nonprofit’s effort is soliciting musicians to donate their tracks to the organization’s compilation albums – ‘Hero’, produced in 2018, is the third volume of the organization – and to use community fundraisers to offset the costs of producing, manufacturing and distributing the records. . One such fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday evening in Abbott Square.

The fundraiser, Jacques said, allows him to provide individuals with a handful of CDs to sell as often as they come back for more, orientation training and a photo ID badge. No money is exchanged between Jacques and his sellers – those who sell the records keep all of the profits, he said.

Support for the sale of ‘symbiotic economy’ CDs

“Our product is free for them, so they don’t have to give us a dime,” said Harmonic Humanity CEO and co-founder Joseph Jacques. “They’re just going to do what they need to and we make our money through the community, through fundraising.”

Jacques added that his goal is to create some dignity for those who live without housing by offering them some form of employment.

“I’m totally popular, boots on the pitch,” Jacques said. “It’s like, hey, would you like a job?” Because I see these guys all the time. I say to myself, what are you doing at the moment? »

Jacques, checking with each of his vendors along Pacific Avenue, asked Reyes to pitch his pitch to potential customers. He told Reyes to come to the Food Not Bombs meal giveaway on Thursday afternoon to pick up more CDs and his official Harmonic Humanity photo badge. Sellers are given a limited number of records to sell at a time, which requires an ongoing relationship with Harmonic Humanity and Jacques.

Jacques said he could see efforts, including sales of CDs, postcards and other artwork, going digital in the future. There’s something relevant about its vendors selling a tangible “widget” on the streets, Jacques said.

“This is a CD,” Reyes said, repeating out loud. “Which, almost, I shouldn’t say that.” I have to keep that out of the sales pitch. CDs are almost obsolete.

“Here, let me help you with this. All cars I have to know because this has to sell for you, all cars under 2018 have CD players. Hundreds of millions of cars on the streets have CD players,” Jacques replied to Reyes.

“If you say, ‘Excuse me, ma’am, does your car have a CD player?’ And she’s like, ‘Oh my god, I do!’ And you’re like, “Well, this will be your new car CD.”

Make the difference

Musician Jeff Rogge, left, said donations to Harmonic Humanity's
Musician Jeff Rogge, left, said donations to Harmonic Humanity’s ‘Hero’ album fundraiser for the homeless are “another tool for someone like me”. Harmonic Humanity CEO Joseph Jacques, right, said his nonprofit attempts to help people on the streets “create a certain dignity”. (Jessica A. York – Sentinel of Santa Cruz)

Jacques helped co-found Harmonic Humanity in 2009 in Seattle and has recently begun traveling down the West Coast trying to “duplicate” himself with similar efforts established along the way. A musician in his own right, Jacques has been playing the piano in downtown Santa Cruz since late January and is working to connect with established local service providers for the homeless and those in need of assistance. , did he declare. Prior to Santa Cruz, Jacques was doing similar work in San Francisco, and he said he plans to continue south to Los Angeles and San Diego in the future.

Another seller, Jeff Rogge, has been selling “Hero” CDs since February. As a musician who became unemployed and homeless in May 2021, Rogge said he considered various options to make ends meet. Rogge said he had recently started working part-time at the Homeless Garden Project and had access to a small, self-contained shelter. The pianist, drummer and guitarist said he spends the rest of his hours practicing and performing his music. Rogge estimates he has sold about 40 CDs since February, with the amount of individual donations varying.

“All the money they give me, the donation, goes to help with food and all the basic necessities,” Rogge said. “EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) will not cover everything.”

Jacques estimated that his sales team sold 400 to 500 records in Santa Cruz that month, generating a potential income of $10,000.

“The thing is, we don’t watch their economy,” Jacques said. “So Jeff can sell it for whatever he wants. We check with them, we do a little story, we ask them how they are. If they want more, they come back and get more.


What: Harmonic Humanity benefit concert.

When: 6-9 p.m., Thursday.

Where: Abbott Square Market, 725 Front St., Santa Cruz

Information: harmonichumanity.org.

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