“Local workers, local people, local bands, a lot of local,” Sam Marts, a local worker himself, summed up the crowd of over 400 supporters that packed the Double Door, 1574 N. Milwaukee, this past Monday night to attend “A Benefit for Kristen,” the Asrai Garden florist injured in a robbery/attack last month.
Sam was manning a table of silent auction items, which included, among other highlights, a progressive dinner for two at The Publican, Avec, Violet Hour and Blackbird, and a set of VIP Pitchfork Tickets.
Natalie, an Asrai Garden florist and former familiar face at Hot Chocolate, was holding court at the raffle ticket table, which had so many donations that the 100+ prizes were categorized into areas of Health & Beauty, Tattoo & Art, Food & Drink, and Boutiques.
In the shoulder-to-shoulder trenches were locals who know Kristen or know someone that knows Kristen, or live or work in the neighborhood and wanted to come out and support a fellow worker, like Cindy, known around town as the “Jimmy John’s sandwich sample lady.” Cindy reflected, “It’s so amazing that one horrible person can do one horrible thing, and hundreds of people in the community can come out and do hundreds of wonderful things in response. It’s incredible.”
Cindy’s sentiments were shared by many, from Elizabeth Cronin, owner of Asrai Garden, an otherwise tough cookie whose voice quavered as she expressed how she was “super grateful to be part of such a kind and generous group of people” who kept the phones “off the hook for two weeks straight,” asking how they could help, to Kristen herself, who thanked her friends, family and strangers for their generosity and for “coming out in droves.”
“There’s no words to express,” Kristen said before happily removing herself from the spotlight and mingling on the dark Double Door floor with friends and numerous family members like an aunt that had driven in from Lockport. Three of Kristen’s favorite bands, Canadian Rifle, Sweet Cobra, and Paul Cary & the Small Scaries performed sets.
Erin Page of Kill Hatsumomo Prints designed Elizabeth’s wedding invitation and donated a set of custom screen-printed posters to the raffle, as well as designed the poster for “A Benefit for Kristen,” choosing squirrels as a theme because she knew Kristen likes them.
Don and Jen, working the door, reported that $4,000 had been collected in donations. The funds, as mention in this HuffPost interview with Elizabeth, will also be applied toward helping Kristen attain the best gift of all: Time. Having precious down time in which to figure out a next move is a blessing not always available to many hundreds of workers in the neighborhood who survive hand-to-mouth. Dawn, a social worker and friend of Kristen’s family, wanted to point out the fact that Kristen, like many of the young workers who’d come out, doesn’t have health insurance and is responsible for the hospital bills incurred as a result of the attack.
“If she were some wealthy individual that has health insurance, all of these people wouldn’t be here digging into their pockets to scrounge up five bucks,” Dawn told The Pipeline, adding “now, that should be your story,” as her companion, Mike, reminded her to “keep things positive.” For his part, Mike shared, “It’s wrong that when [Alexander Hampton] is in jail for what he did, we as taxpayers are paying for his jail time. If he’s locked up for five years, Kristen should have health care for those five years.”
Until the government enacts rules like what Mike’s proposing to assist uninsured victims of violence, people will hopefully continue to surprise and support each other by coming together as they did for Kristen, who, as one local shop girl who didn’t know Kristen until the incident, said, “could have been me.”
In three years of working Double Door’s coat check, Andy said that he’d never seen a Monday night crowd as big as the one that poured into the club last night, “not even with big name bands,” before backtracking and saying he wouldn’t want to be quoted on that in case any bands would feel bad.
The Pipeline will go out on a limb and assume that no band would feel bad if, considering the cause behind A Benefit for Kristen, they drew a lesser crowd. You can’t beat community.