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A brief message drove home the impact of last night’s livestream show.

Between songs, Marty Englander told Abraham Alexander, “We raised $15,000 in 20 minutes.”

By the end of the two-hour-long free concert — which featured homebrewed R&B sensation Leon Bridges and Fort Worth singer-songwriter Alexander — a continual online viewership of 4,000 had raised $63,000 to support struggling furloughed Near Southside workers through the Near Southside Inc.’s new fund, Southside C.A.R.E.S. (Culinary Arts Retail Entertainment and Service Fund). Englander and wife Marilyn Englander own Kent & Co. Wines, one of several of the night’s sponsors, including the Fort Worth Weekly.

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One week after launching, the fund has raised $131,000 that has allowed for the disbursement of 273 $250 relief grants to service workers, creatives, and gig employees on the Near Southside. More than 400 applications have been received so far, said Near Southside Inc.

The Near Southside was doubly hit by the pandemic, Megan Henderson said. Near Southside Inc. director of events and communications said her community is home to many artists and musicians as well as service industry workers. The closings of restaurants, art galleries, and live music shows have been brutal to her community. 

“The fund is for people who are struggling,” she said. “It is meant to be a morale boost. These people have been denied [federal] loans or unemployment. They had been told ‘no’ a lot. We were here to tell them ‘yes.’ ”

Henderson said there are no current plans to host another major fundraising event. As the current funds are disbursed, the slowly recovering service sector should begin providing restored work opportunities, she said. 

Henderson said that the Englanders, Schaefer Advertising Co., the Dubose Family Foundation, and many others have shown that Fort Worth is a community that “supports each other during desperate situations.”

When Bridges asked Alexander if he would also perform, Alexander replied, “Absolutely.” Alexander said the economic crisis has been a financial setback for him and his fellow musicians.

“It was a special night,” Alexander recalled. “All the money we raised was incredible. Truly, truly incredible. I’m humbled and thankful. To use our talents that God has given us for something like this, that is humbling. That is what it is all about.”

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