On Friday, Oct. 24, The Southwester held a Halloween-themed party at Blind Whino to raise money for the paper and celebrate with all of Southwest’s finest at our quadrant’s hottest event space. Residents from all corners of the DC metro area came out in their craziest costumes to show their support for the paper, join in the festivities, and dance the night away. However, even the most defined plans sometimes end in the most unexpected of ways and this event was no exception.

The inspiration for the Halloween blowout stemmed from Editor-in-Chief Shannon Vaughn’s 30th birthday party, which was held at Blind Whino in Oct. 2013 with a similar theme and a turnout of more than 400 people. When reflecting upon the success of last year’s party, it only seemed natural to attempt a repeat performance with the added benefit of raising funds to support The Southwester. Blind Whino’s superstar duo of Shane Pomajambo and Ian Callendar signed up immediately, even offering the venue at no cost to the paper–a huge help in finding the perfect location.

At this year’s event, several different DJs spun tracks from 8 pm ’til midnight while revelers enjoyed dancing and drinks on Blind Whino’s two levels. Catering inside the venue was provided by Chef Nadine of Nutrition Synergies LLC, whose offerings included a variety of mini quiches as well as chicken and waffles, while the Korengy food truck served up Korean tacos outside: all the necessary ingredients to throw a celebration deserving of our 50th anniversary.

But even the best laid plans sometimes fail to reach fruition. To cover the event’s expenses (security, bartending fees, catering, etc.) we needed to have less than half of the amount of people that came last year to come and pay the $10 per person donation as a cover, which was almost an afterthought given last year’s success. All told, less than 125 people showed up. While this did not dampen the partygoers’ moods, we knew those missing expenses would come out of our nonexistent savings.

As some realize, the paper is not free to create. While it may be free to our readers, the paper costs roughly 25 cents per issue to print and about $2,000 total. We operate in the black, but we collect in the red thanks to multiple businesses who have taken out ads and have not paid, some with bills of $5,000+ outstanding. Needless to say, the paper is hurting, thus our fundraising efforts this year.

The $1,100 we made from the donations given at the door was obviously going to Blind Whino, but we did not expect to owe $1,200 at the end of a fundraiser. After deliberating our courses of action, Shannon approached Blind Whino with a few options: a structured repayment plan or volunteering to make up for the difference.

Without hesitation, Shane and Ian said, “Keep it all. We are supporters of the paper and of this neighborhood! The paper is essential to the success of telling Southwest’s great story.”

As Shannon said, “The lump in my throat at that moment could have been a watermelon. It literally was the difference between us continuing on and us possibly shutting down the paper. A true lifeline.”

Fundraising is an integral part of running a free neighborhood newspaper with a staff made up completely of volunteers. To be able to combine the fundraising effort with such an enjoyable and festive event is an added bonus.

If you would like to contribute, our Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) code is 51122. Or you can send a check to P.O. Box 70131, Washington, DC 20024. Thank you to everyone who was able to come out and support The Southwester.

By: Julia Cole

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