NEWARK – It’s been 15 years since Mental Health America of Licking County started Java and Jazz to raise money for its programs.
Regulars at the event knew to expect live and silent auctions, refreshments and a jazz performance.
“It was essentially the same event for 15 years,” Executive Director Penny Sitler said. “I thought: ‘We need to make this more enticing and fun and hopefully draw in a new crowd of people.’ “
On March 21, supporters should get ready for a revamped Java and Jazz with a bigger musical focus, Sitler said.
MHA partnered with the Midland Theatre to bring singer-songwriter Livingston Taylor to Newark for the event. Attendees will be able to enjoy a concert and bid on items in a live auction.
“We are hoping people will come because of who is performing, and while they are there, they will hear about the good work we do,” Sitler said.
Taylor, who is the brother of James Taylor, is a music professor who has been recording his own music since he was 18.
Known for songs such as “I Will Be in Love with You” and “I’ll Come Running,” Livingston Taylor performs a variety of genres from pop and folk to jazz.
“(Livingston Taylor) is a wonderful performer, entertainer and musician,” Sitler said. “Hopefully, he brings a lot of folks to the theater.”
Fans of the musician will have the opportunity to purchase VIP tickets for Java and Jazz, which will give them the opportunity to meet Taylor and have refreshments from 6 to 7 p.m. March 21 at the Midland.
Java and Jazz will officially start at 7 p.m. with a live auction. Participants will have the opportunity to bid on several packages, including vacation homes, an Ohio State University package and a downtown Newark package, which includes a stay at the DoubleTree.
“There’s something for everybody,” Sitler said. “There will be a real variety.”
At 8 p.m., Taylor will take the stage and perform for several hours.
“We are hoping lots of people hear about (his performance) and want to see that concert, and ultimately support MHA,” Sitler said.
Java and Jazz is MHA’s largest fundraiser of the year, Sitler said.
The organization offers support groups and travels to local schools to present programs about mental health and suicide prevention.
“We don’t charge for anything we do,” she said. “Every program is free.”
Programs such as Compeer, a recovery program for people with mental illnesses; Bridges Out of Poverty; and YES Club make a difference for many Licking County residents, she said.
“We are so involved in the community,” Sitler said. “We want to be able to keep providing services for everyone, but we have to raise the money to make it all work.”
If you go
What: Java and Jazz: An evening with Livingston Taylor
When: VIP events begin at 6 p.m. March 21; concert and live auction begin at 7 p.m.
Where: The Midland Theatre, 36 N. Park Place, Newark
FYI: General admission is $45; VIP tickets are $125. For more information, call 740-345-5483 or go to midlandtheatre.org.