In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, local San Antonio musicians are going out of their way to be charitable and share their gifts with the less fortunate. Singer songwriter Christopher George and his team will be bringing together 14 artists on two stages for the first-ever Fusion Fest, a celebration that will benefit the work of Child Advocates of San Antonio (CASA).

Fusion Fest San Antonio, currently a newly established LLC with aspirations for 501(c)3 status, will host the event on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. at BurnHouse Cigar and Martini Lounge, opening up this venue to a new population of music lovers.

To purchase tickets and RSVP, click here.

George, the organizer and brainchild behind the movement, fell victim to a major car accident in 2012 that should have taken his life, and through that experience woke up.

“It made me realize I am here for a purpose, and I plan on finding out what that is,” George said. “For me and for many others, music saved our lives.”

A friend of George’s is an advocate for CASA, a nonprofit organization that provides court-appointed advocates for children that are in the foster care system due to abusive and neglectful family situations.

“He told me about his experience there and the children’s stories,” George said, relaying that he went out to CASA with his guitar and open heart to feel what it was all about. “It moved me so much and I realized I had to start giving back.”

While this is Fusion Fest San Antonio’s first effort, George said they plan on running the festival four times a year, working with different venues and charities to keep the love flowing strong.

“We chose CASA because the work these individuals do is so fulfilling and necessary,” George said. “Child Protective Services (CPS) can’t handle the caseload and so CASA provides advocates as kind of fact-checkers. The kids open up to them so much.”

CASA Vice President of Development Elisabeth Reise couldn’t stress enough the all-encompassing nature of these advocates and the absolute impact that has been measured both tangibly and through hearts filled.

“These kids go through so many changes, we want our community volunteers to be a face that is with them from beginning to end,” Reise said of the individuals who have face time with teachers, caretakers, and the judges in the court system. “Ninety-seven percent of the time the judges are filing the recommendations of the advocate. They are channeling information for the judge to make the right decision.”

The decision Reise refers to whether a child will be placed in a foster care home, transitional family, with members of the family, or returned back to their original guardians.

“In Bexar County alone we work with 5,000 students who have to go through three to four families and five to six caseworkers to find a permanent home,” Reise said. “With our advocates we know that students find a safe and permanent family eight months faster, and they also improve their grades in school by 78%.”

The alternative, according to Reise, is that these young people will often end up on the streets, incarcerated, costing San Antonio taxpayers more money and continuing the generational cycle of abuse that can be broken with the help of these advocates.

“There are these terrible stories on the news all the time, and CASA takes the problem and offers a community solution,” Reise said. “With only a few hours a month you can make a huge difference at a societal level.”

Children at work in CASA's "Art and Soul" program.
Children at work in CASA’s “Art and Soul” program. Credit: Courtesy / Natalia Sun

For Reise, and her colleagues at CASA, charitable events like Fusion Fest offer an opportunity not only for the recruitment of new volunteers to become advocates, but also to raise money for the organization and help it continue its mission.

“It costs $1,000 to provide an advocate for a child, so we need funding to keep our work going,” Reise said. “I’m really excited to see the arts community step up, they offer a lot of skill-sets through music and art that are so therapeutic for our kids.  Events like (the one) Chris is hosting really helps spread the word which is essential.”

To see CASA’s video on the impact of arts for their kids, click here.

All of the proceeds raised at Fusion Fest go towards CASA’s mission and can collectively make an indelible impact on the lives of children, children who have not chosen to be in their present predicament.

“The money raised from ticket sales, raffle sales, and even a portion of the vendor sales will go towards CASA,” George said, referencing the food trucks by Tres Gueros Taco Co. and Gastronautica, as well as canvas art and jewelry by local artists. “The bands were all super generous about playing for little or nothing at all. Most just donated their time when they understood the value of the cause.”

Seven of the artists, singer songwriters such as Josh Glenn, Nick Gomez, and Sierra Lynn Brown, will perform on a stage designed for the intimate approach to their craft, while the other seven, bands such as Dylan Tanner Band, The Foreign Arm, and Hydra Melody, will take the bigger stage to accommodate the dynamic sound.

“This is not a money-making endeavor at all, but an opportunity to give back and support our community,” George said. “We all have a great opportunity right now in our city to do whatever we can to make a difference.”

Adam Tutor is a Trinity University graduate, a saxophonist who performs with local bands Soulzzafying, Odie & the Digs, and Volcan, and a freelance music contributor to the Rivard Report.