This weekend Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real along with Poor Man’s Whiskey, Corinne West and host Wavy Gravy will be performing a benefit concert for the SEVA Foundation. We had a chance to talk with Aaron Simon, Communications Director and Tamara Klamner, Event Producer of SEVA Foundation about the mission behind this incredible nonprofit and some of their most memorable benefit concerts to date.
UCT: Can you tell me about the work your organization does and the program or programs you run? What differentiates you from other organizations?
Aaron: Seva works to prevent blindness and restore sight. Our programs have restored sight to nearly 4-million people in more than 20 countries around the world.
UCT: For 38 years, you’ve been producing world-class benefit concerts. What has been the most memorable to date?
Aaron: Seva is grateful to all of the musicians, patrons, and volunteers who have supported our benefit concerts over the past 38 years. The Grateful Dead headlined the very first Seva benefit concert and in the years since we’ve produced 50+ events that have helped to raise millions of dollars to prevent blindness and restore sight to people in need.
Tamara: I’ve been producing Seva’s benefit concerts since 1994 and one of my favorite shows was in 2008 when we celebrated our 30th anniversary at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. We had a stellar lineup of artists including Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Crosby and Nash, Hot Tuna, Los Lobos and surprise guest Elvis Costello. It was an incredible show and we raised almost a half million dollars. We’ve had a lot of amazing shows over the (nearly) 40 years that Seva has been in existence. Our founding board member Wavy Gravy has many musician friends and associates who have lent their time and talent to the cause. We are incredibly grateful for that support. It has enabled us to build a very strong reputation and community, especially in the bay area where most of our concerts have taken place. We hope to keep continue doing the shows for many years to come.
UCT: Can you tell me about SEVA Holiday Extravaganza?
Aaron: All of us at Seva are excited for our upcoming Seva Holiday Extravaganza. The event will feature Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real (Neil Young’s 2015 backup band led by Willie Nelson’s son), the rocking bluegrass outfit Poor Man’s Whiskey, singer songwriter Corinne West, and Seva co-founder Wavy Gravy as emcee. There will also be a silent auction of rock and roll memorabilia. Proceeds from the event support Seva’s sight-restoring programs around the world.
UCT: What is important for SEVA in 2017?
Aaron: Each year, Seva provides eye care to nearly 1-million people in need. Thanks to events like this one, and from donations from all of our supporters, we look forward to continuing our work to transform lives by restoring sight.
UCT: What are some of the challenges in recent years?
Aaron: Around the world there are 285 million people who suffer from blindness or low vision. A staggering 80% of can be prevented or cured. Reaching all of those people who are in need is one of the greatest challenges.
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness and thanks to innovations by Seva and our partners, we have reduced the cost of sight-saving cataract surgery to just $50.
Each time you buy a ticket to one of our events, give a Gift of Sight (www.seva.org/gifts) as an alternative holiday gift, or make a tax-deductible donation to our organization, you are helping to prevent blindness and transform lives. We invite you to learn more by coming to our Holiday event on December 17th, and to visit our website at www.seva.org.