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Charity Begins In The Shop
By making it a part of his day-to-day business activities,
printer finds time to help others along the way.

By Deborah Sexton, Editor

One of the best feelings in the world comes from helping other people. I think we'd all like to do more in this area, but unfortunately, realites such as earning a living tend to get in the way. Rick Roth has found he can combine the best of both worlds: running a screen printing business and helping other people at the same time.

Roth, president, Mirror Image, Pawtucket, R.I., has spent the past year planning an event to be held at the Screenprinting & Graphic Imaging (SGIA) show, Nov. 1-4 in New Orleans. His screen printing crew will print thousands of T-shirts a day with multiple design and color changeovers. The shirts, to be printed at the MHM booth, will sell for $5, and all proceeds will benefit the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic. Tower Records has agreed to sell any remaining shirts from its retail locations after the convention.

The inspiration for the project was twofold: Roth wanted to give something back to the city and to show a production shop in action.

"SGIA goes into all these communities, but what is added by the fact that we go there? I thought it would be nice to do something for the city hosting our show," he says. "I have grown to love New Orleans and its culture since the first time I went there for an SGIA convention in 1993.

"I also wanted to do production printing at a show. We can print up to 1,000 shirts an hour in our shop. It's frustrating when you only get to print for five minutes every two hours, which means you print only 1,000 shirts during three days. For once, I wanted to print a lot of shirts."

Through the help of a friend, Roth found the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, which provides medical care to area musicians. "When I went to visit them, I felt like they really helped the right people, and the money was well-spent," says Roth.

Outreach coordinator Bethany Bultman, New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, says, "New Orleans may be the cradle of American music, but it's also usually an early grave for musicians who stay here. We stress prevention and become a partner in keeping musicians well, so that they can perform and do the things they love."

In keeping with a New Orleans music theme, all artwork-which is being donated by a variety of artists, such as Leslie Straub-centers around New Orleans musicians.

While Roth admits that finding the time to plan a project of this size has been a challenge, his secret is simple. "I try to work it into what I'm already doing," he says. "I've got to call Kiwo anyway, so while I'm on the phone, I ask if it can donate some emulsion. It hasn't been that hard to persuade people to contribute. People want to help. If you ask the people at an emulsion company to give medical exams to musicians, they can't do that. But they can provide emulsion for a charitable function that helps someone, and they can feel good about that."

Roth, who has been active in Amnesty Intl. for 19 years, also contributes in ways other than time and money. On weekends, volunteers use his shop's computers to make fliers and posters. "I've lent folding tables many times. We also host Web sites for Amnesty and another charity I'm involved in, "he says.

For decorators who'd like to get more involved in charitable activities, the official industry charity is Variety Intl. This group has placed coach vans with youth organizations that help disadvantaged children.

Decorators can contribute by participating in the annual Variety dinner and auction, to be held at the Tampa ISS, Feb. 16-18, 2001, where there are numerous items to bid on during silent and live auctions. Many industry shows feature a Variety booth where pins and other merchandise are sold. A number of suppliers, such as M&R, print and sell shirts during shows and donate the proceeds to Variety.

Another great way decorators can participate is to hold a garage sale to clear out overruns and other unwanted merchandise and donate the proceeds to Variety.

Darrell Marriott, president, Purple Elephant Promotions, Essex Junction, Vt., has written on his experiences working with nonprofit organizations in this month's Promo Points, page 66. Learn how giving back to the community can also benefit your business.

For those interested in learning more about the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, visit

No matter what they do, people who make the effort always get back more than they give, I believe. The benefits are not always financial, but they are always substantial. If you've had a positive experience working to help others, I'd love to hear about it. Most people tend to be modest, but your story might motivate someone else to help.

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