Put on your dancin’ shoes: Jazz, blues and swing at Dance Party

Dance the night away at the Key Collective’s first annual Dance Party, featuring Ben Baldwin and the Big Note Band playing jazz, blues and swing music, plus appetizers and a cash bar.

The fundraiser is happening Saturday, March 7, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Abenaqui Country Club in Rye Beach.

“One of our board members is a huge fan of Ben Baldwin and the Big Note Band. She has been following them for a long time and they were willing to discount their fee to benefit our organization,” said Kristyn LaFleur, founder and executive director of the Key Collective.

The band’s Facebook page touts it as a “dance band with style and substance with a repertoire that can be as elegant as Johnny Mercer, as smooth as Sam Cooke & as raucous as the Kinks.” For a taste of their music, check out hlfhlt.wixsite.com/benbaldwindanceparty.

One hundred percent of ticket sales from the event will directly benefit the KEY Collective and its #areuin? card program.

“The financial contributions that we receive from this event directly impact the growth and sustainability of the program and the positive impact it has on our region’s youth,” LaFleur said.

The nonprofit was founded in 2017 as a result of a grant awarded by Exeter Hospital.
“The KEY Collective envisions every child without the financial means having the same out-of-school opportunities that are available to their peers, available to them, without any social stigma attached,” LaFleur said.

The grant from Exeter Hospital was part of its Suicide Prevention Grant Initiative, which also established the #areuin? card program that gives Seacoast-area youth the opportunity to engage in quality out-of-school programming.

“This program offers qualified students, via free and reduced lunch eligibility or through a school validator referral, an opportunity to register for free or discounted memberships and programs by simply showing their membership card to partner organizations rather than having to ask for financial assistance or fill out additional income/financial paperwork each and every time they are interested in a program,” said LaFleur.

During the first year of the program, which began in the Exeter school district, 30 percent of eligible students signed up for a membership card. Of that percentage, 40 percent of the students were enrolled in one or more programs. Fifty-two percent were enrolled in one or more programs in the second year, where the same amount of students signed up. In total, just over 500 students were reached in Exeter. The program is in its third year in Exeter and its first year in the Hampton school district. It will launch in the Portsmouth school district at the beginning of the next school year.

“The objective is to grow the number of out-of-school opportunities within existing partner school districts, as well as expand the list of partner school districts statewide,” LaFleur said. In October 2017 the program was nationally recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of seven emerging grassroots programs in youth sports at the Let’s Play Summit in Washington, D.C.

The dance party will be at the Abenaqui Country Club at 731 Central Road in Rye Beach, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. Light appetizers will be served, and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online at eventbrite.com. For more information on the KEY Collective and the #areuin? card program, visit areuincard.org.

— Danielle Roberts

Courtesy photo.