DOVER – For Ennio Emmanuel, representing Code Purple at Firefly Music Festival makes sense: music and art are emotional, people are open for connection. That’s what landed them in Good Hub, Firefly’s spot to highlight nonprofit causes.
“This is a great avenue because everyone’s open to connection and if we don’t take advantage of that, people being vulnerable, then we’re going to miss every opportunity to help people see their full potential,” he said.
Code Purple was one of two local organizations among the seven represented at Good Hub. This marks Code Purple’s fifth year, and Mr. Emmanuel’s first time helming it as president with a new team. In the past, he’s seen the impact of the festival up close as a volunteer.
“Donations go up. Also just advocacy: people learn more about us, and they take advantage of that and then get connected. Volunteerism goes up,” he said. “It’s like a wave of energy that just goes through the community. It was something that I, when I was a volunteer, felt. Now as a leader, I can see how that all works. And so it’s about cultivating it and take care of it.”
Code Purple, which operates in Kent County, seeks to help those suffering from homelessness, abuse, financial struggle, drug addiction – things that have been impacted even more by the pandemic.
“Uncertainty drives people crazy,” he said. “And so I think a lot of people were uncertain about their jobs, concerned about their wealth or health. Because of that, I think people just tended to go toward what was easy to do to solve some of their own angers, some of their own agony. And drugs and alcohol are an easy avenue to do that.”
Soberfly, which supports attendees going through the four-day festival without any drugs or alcohol, is also a part of the festival. Code Purple has been helping with outreach, Mr. Emmanuel said. He added it’s important to shine a light on the struggles of the past year, too.
“It’s a good way to meet local teenagers that kind of need to learn about what’s happening in their community, how they can get involved and volunteer,” he said. “In our pamphlet, we have talked about how you can start a Code Purple wherever you’re at. So it’s all about spreading the message. I think it’s really important for nonprofits to join in with government, local communities, churches and culture. That’s what we want to be, a vehicle for that to happen.”
When Firefly wraps up, Code Purple will gather volunteers for cleanup of the Firefly grounds starting at 9 a.m. Volunteers will meet Monday at 8 a.m. for breakfast at Cornerstone Church before cleanup begins.
Meanwhile, it was CAMP Rehoboth’s first time at Firefly. The organization seeks to create a positive environment inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Rehoboth Beach and its related communities.
Matty Brown, operations administrator, said when they saw Firefly was doing its first Pride Parade on Sunday at 3 p.m., they reached out to see if they could get involved. That’s how they heard about Good Hub.
“It raises the profile tremendously, because it’s just this great melting pot where so many other people can meet us and talk to us,” he said. “Downtown Rehoboth, we get a lot of the same community members that we serve. And just to see more of the young LGBTQ population, especially, is very refreshing and very encouraging. We hope that they know about us more, especially as the only LGBT community center in Delaware.”
While Thursday was a bit of a wash – literally – he said they have been engaging with festivalgoers through making their own bracelets.
“It’s been great. People are coming in and they love to learn about us. And we’re loving the response, really, because it’s been a very inclusive, encouraging population,” he said. “We’re happy to be part of that.”
Over the past year, the organization has had to pivot their service model to virtual programming. Mr. Brown said that has been very successful, and has added to their reach. But there’s something about meeting people face to face, he said.
“We’re just so happy to be at a Firefly that’s actively trying to be more inclusive and engaging with audiences with their Pride Parade, their drag brunches. So it’s really encouraging this safe space that is part of our mission also,” Mr. Brown said.