In this week's installment of #GeeksCare: How You Can Help, Fanbase Press would like to highlight the winner of Amazon Prime Video's #TickSaveMyCity contest. As part of the contest, people across America submitted videos describing a problem in their local community for a chance to have The Tick save it. Public voting last month on Tongal helped select “Refugee Children” – a video about a local non-profit in Charlotte, North Carolina (ourBRIDGE) – as the grand prize winner. The video created by Charlotte-local Caleb Van Voorhis was one of three finalists reviewed and selected by Amazon Prime Video, along with the Executive Producer of The Tick, Barry Josephson (Bones, Life as We Know it), and star of the series, Griffin Newman (Vinyl, Search Party). As a result of winning this contest, ourBRIDGE received a renovation by a team of Ticks that featured a new garden, mural, new furniture, and school supplies for all the children it serves. ourBRIDGE serves refugee and immigrant children of all cultures, providing them with resources to help them feel safe in their new home away from home. In the following interview, I chat with filmmaker Caleb Van Voorhis about the mission behind ourBRIDGE, the incredible staff involved in the organization, his experience in the #TickSaveMyCity contest, how YOU can get involved, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on your winning film entry in Amazon Prime Video’s #TickSaveMyCity fan contest! For those who may be unfamiliar, what was the focus of the contest, and what inspired you to enter?
Caleb Van Voorhis: Thank you so much! Sure, the #TickSaveMyCity Contest was hosted by Amazon Prime through tongal.com to promote the new series, The Tick, that recently premiered on Amazon Prime. For this, Tongal tapped into their creative community which I’ve been a part of for years. They asked for people all over the country to submit videos explaining causes in their city that could use some help and then Amazon would come to “save their city” by providing support or assets to that cause! I’d done many projects with Tongal, but this one was very special to me because it allowed me to do something good for the city of Charlotte and for the children who live here. The video was selected as a finalist by Barry Josephson, executive producer of The Tick, and Griffin Newman, the star of the series. Public voting last month selected my video as the grand prize winner.
BD: The video that you submitted, “Refugee Children,” focused on the Charlotte, North Carolina non-profit organization, ourBRIDGE. What can you tell us about the work that ourBRIDGE provides to the people of Charlotte, and what motivated you to become involved in this organization?
CVV: ourBRIDGE does amazing work for the children and families of immigrant and refugee children. They provide after school care, English lessons, transportation, and countless other resources for children at no cost to them. Children are recommended by local ESL teachers and school administrators, and then ourBRIDGE supports the children not only academically, but by giving them a safe place to go after school with positive influences. They're helping them integrate into American culture and excel in school.
BD: What can you share about the premise of your film and its focus on ourBRIDGE?
CVV: ourBRIDGE just moved into a new building, well, new for them, but a building that was donated to them a month or two ago. They were beyond grateful to have a building of their own, but all of the furniture, school supplies, toys, etc. were all second-hand donated and had a lot of wear and tear. Not to mention the building itself felt very cold and plain. The idea behind the film was to allow Amazon to come in and beautify the building to make it a kid-friendly environment and also garner new furniture and supplies for the kids and programs.
BD: As the grand prize winner of the #TickSaveMyCity contest, what were the winnings afforded to you and ourBRIDGE, and how have they impacted the work that it provides?
CVV: The teams from Amazon and Tongal came to Charlotte and really provided everything I could’ve hoped for and more. Over a two day period, over 50 local volunteers came out and supported the activation of all this. That, to me was the coolest part. Seeing all these people come out and donate their time and effort to put this all together, build furniture, and create this new center for the kids. There was new books, tables, chairs, school supplies, and toys for the kids. We painted the walls, added a garden, and added a lot of Tick decoration as well. Then, that Friday evening there was a big celebration dinner where the kids and families got to see the new center for the first time and utilize all the new things. Seeing their faces light up as they saw it all was priceless. They all were running around in their little Tick hats and Tick gear and it was really fun.
BD: How can other individuals get involved with ourBRIDGE, and what are a few ways that community members can truly make a difference?
CVV: Anyone can check out the work that ourBRIDGE is doing on their website. There are countless ways to get involved. Anything from reading lessons, homework help, ESL classes, drivers, counselors, and the list goes on!
BD: Are there any other activities or films that you are currently working on that you would like to share with our readers?
CVV: I’ve always got my hands in several projects - whether it's a short film, commercial, Tongal project, podcast, or documentary series. Some big ones I have coming up that I’m excited for are a piece I’m working on with the Charlotte Hornets and a short film for a film contest with ARRI. People can check out my site at www.vanvoorhisproductions.com and feel free to shoot me a message any time!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about ourBRIDGE?
CVV: Sil Ganzo is the director at ourBRDIGE, and she does amazing work coordinating the families, staff, volunteers, and kids. She, and all the team, there also did a ton of work helping out on this event. The difference they make in these kids’ lives is really touching, and their selflessness is astonishing. At the end of the day, that's really what this event and The Tick were all about: helping others.
If you have a volunteer opportunity or an important cause that could use the assistance of a few geeks, please email the details to barbra (at) fanbasepress (dot) com.