Tallahassee craft beer community helps raise $5,500 for Lee's Place
A two-month fundraising campaign spearheaded by the Tallahassee Beer Society concluded last week with a record $5,500 donation to Leon County-based nonprofit Lee's Place, a grief counseling center that's been providing rehabilitation services in the Big Bend for over two decades.
The Tallahassee Beer Society — a local craft beer group that tracks, reports on and promotes the area's growing, award-winning craft beer scene — created "Drink Tallahassee Beer" T-shirts and hoodies, then partnered with local business Madison Social to sell them online and donate all proceeds to Lee's Place.
Before the TLH Beer Society presented the check to Lee's Place alongside members of the Tallahassee craft beer community from Proof Brewing, Lake Tribe Brewing, Deep Brewing and Ology Brewing, Beth Tedio — who serves as Lee's Place Director of Development — joined the Society on their ESPN 97.9 FM Radio show, where they revealed the results of the fundraising campaign live on air after asking her to guess what she thought the donation about would be.
"I'm going to guess kind of high for what a local fundraiser normally yields and say $2,000?" Tedio said.
"Close. But how about $5,500? How does that sound?" asked TLHBS co-founder Danny Aller, who was joined on the show by co-host and Beer Society co-founder Matthew Crumbaker.
"Oh my gosh!" Tedio exclaimed. "That is just ... so incredible. This is going to help so many people. You just have no idea."
Lee's Place was founded in 2000 by Dr. Brenda Rabalais in memory of her son Lee Rabalais, who died at the age of 14 from bone cancer. Following that life-changing event, the idea and passion to honor Lee and to help others in our community was born. Already a therapist, Dr. Rabalais created a center where people can receive quality, licensed, therapeutic services in a warm and nurturing environment.
Lee’s Place services address the broad spectrum of grief, loss, and trauma. Examples include, divorce, abandonment (foster care, adoption, service families), abuse, suicide, homicide, crime, loss of functionality, loss of home or job, long-term illnesses, other life transitions, as well as death. And they offer their services to clients as young as 4 years old.
Rabalais’ vision was always that financial circumstances not be a barrier to receiving quality, licensed therapy for any type of loss, therefore all sessions are offered at a sliding fee scale. All donations and grants help to pay their operating expenses.
"All of the money will go toward making sure anyone and everyone can get the therapy they need," Tedio said of the donation. "I'm still just ... my jaw is still just hanging down right now. That is just a phenomenal number for a fundraiser like this. Thank you to everyone who purchased a shirt or sweatshirt and helped make this happen, and everyone involved. That's just incredible."
The donation was a record amount for the Beer Society's fundraising efforts, which had previously centered on in-person bottle shares and gatherings as a way to raise money for local nonprofits prior to the pandemic. At their most recent bottle share in late 2019 at Proof, they raised $2,500 for the Hang Tough Foundation, breaking the group's previous record for a one-time charitable contribution.
But when the pandemic grounded those types of events in March 2020, the Beer Society turned toward merchandise sales — exclusively online and via delivery in order to limit contact — to raise money in the interim.
In late 2020, they offered TLH Beer Society glasses and masks for sale and donated all the profits to Elder Care Services, Inc., in the form of hand sanitizer that was purchased from Proof and Ology, both of which began producing the often-scarce product amidst the pandemic.
"Not being able to gather like we used to because of the coronavirus crisis has been a bummer, but it's been necessary to limit those types of events in order to slow the spread so we CAN get back to normal," Aller said.
"In the meantime, Matt and I still wanted to find a way to still help — and the money couldn't have gone to a more worthy cause than Lee's Place with so many people out there struggling and experiencing grief due to the pandemic. But we couldn't have done it without the tremendous support of the Tallahassee craft beer community, which purchased over 550 shirts and hoodies to help us raise $5,500," Aller said.
"And a special shoutout to Matt Thompson, managing partner at Madison Social, who suggested Lee's Place to us when we sought a benefactor for this. And big thanks to Burke Buchanan, our local rep with Vernon Graphics and Promotions, who not only produced the shirts for us at a great price to ensure a huge donation for Lee's Place, but Burke and Vernon donated dozens of shirts from the outset to kick the fundraiser off. It truly was a total team effort that resulted in a win-win for everyone. We can't thank our Beer Society members enough for all the support."