CHESTERVILLE – A Bunch of People, a not-for-profit organization, was formed by Amanda Burger following a Christmas Dinner Theatre in December of 2018. Since then, the organization has been holding events such as theatrical performances, writing competitions and earlier this year a car rally all in aid of local people in need of a helping hand.
As we sat in her comfortable sitting room adjacent to the kitchen, Burger explained in late 2018 she and a group of friends produced “a staged reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, with the three hundred dollars raised by the performance provided to a single Mom and her family. This led to the birth of the organization in early 2019.
She explained since her retirement that year, she has had the time available to organize ABOP, continue her volunteer work with Dundas County Players on projects and recently begin a successful career as an artist.
The name of the group came about when Burger was searching for a name for the group, and asked her husband Patrick ‘what am I supposed to call this? We’re just a bunch of people,’ and the name was born.”
When asked why the group was formed, she commented it arose from her desire to help people.
The goal of the organization is to “raise money for charity” by putting on shows and other events which showcase local talent. The money raised by the shows and other events is provided to the House of Lazarus which provides it to families in need.
The board, which consists of president Amanda Burger; Suzanne Milliaire vice president; Patrick Burger secretary treasurer and directors Harmony Koiter and Marie-Therese Robinson are a working board. She explained this as meaning that board directors bring their event ideas to a meeting and assume a leadership role in organizing the event.
Writing in 150 is an annual competition that began in 2019 with the opportunity to create in 150 minutes a complete piece of work. Competition divisions included poetry, a short play, song writing, fiction and nonfiction writing and the spoken word which were judged by local professionals. Burger continued “winners of that competition are published in a book by Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Publishing.” She noted local musician Rick Ventrella has included all three songs he composed during the competition on his recently released CD.
While we listened to the tracks from Ventrella’s CD, Burger explained each of the ABOP executive and board of directors are responsible for organizing and running a fundraising event. She explained Patrick, a college English professor and secretary/treasurer of AGOP, thought this competition would provide the opportunity for writers, musicians, and playwrights to compete locally.
Burger stressed the importance of having some fun while raising funds for those in need locally. She described a “Sing It Event” where participants “came together to learn a Queen song in three hours, in 3-part harmony, and to perform it the same day.” Funds have been raised by events such as dinners concerts, “a reading of Dave Cooks the Turkey” written by Stuart McLean, beer tasting dinners and proceeds from The Victoria Street Café at the McCloskey Hotel last year.
In addition to a car rally/scavenger hunt, the brainchild of board member Suzanne Millaire, held earlier this year, Harmony Koiter, and Marie Therese Robinson recently collaborated on the successful True Stories event held at Winchester United. This event featured writers composing their own true story which was accompanied by ambient music. On Dec. 18, A Bunch of People will be performing A Canadian Made Christmas Story accompanied by Christmas music at the Old Town Hall in Winchester.
Carolyn Thompson Goddard, grew up in Chesterville and attended North Dundas District High School. After completing her BA in Political Science at Carleton University she has worked as a medical secretary and library technician. In 2020 she graduated from Algonquin College with a diploma in Journalism and has been a reporter and column writer for The Chesterville Record for over 10 years.