Fostering good with the Do Good Bus
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Brooklyn - posted Tue., Oct. 4, 2011
Except for the sparkling white charter bus sitting in Bryan Trainor and Jennifer Barrette-Trainor's driveway on Sept. 30, one wouldn't suspect the quiet neighborhood to be hosting one of the more popular bands to pass through the Quiet Corner in some time.
Foster the People, whose song, “Pumped Up Kicks” is number three on Billboard's Hot 100, was in town for a private acoustic concert. But this fundraising event wasn't about the band, so much as the charitable work carried on by the Do Good Bus, in which they arrived.
The bus is the brainchild of Rebecca Pontius, sister of drummer Mark Pontius, and her business partner Stephen Snedden. They came up with the idea of the moving tribute to charities a year ago in Los Angeles. Pontius and Snedden have worked in non-profits and volunteered for a variety of causes in the L.A. area over the last 10 years. Their friends would always ask how they could get involved in volunteering. So when Pontius' brother threw her a 30th birthday party by hiring a bus and inviting all her friends along for the ride, the idea was born.
“I thought if we had a party atmosphere, but then did something good at the same time, we could show them how to volunteer,” Rebecca Pontius said.
Their first Do Good ride worked so well that they decided to keep it going. Since it started, they have passed out books to elementary school children and lunches to the homeless. They have started gardens in L.A. and created maps showing fruit trees on public property. They've delivered supplies to an orphanage in Mexico and “sold” hugs for 25 cents each at a farmers’ market to raise money. At one event they helped high school seniors write their college application essays. They raised $12,000 for the Red Cross and The Texas Wildfire Relief Fund by standing outside the bus with firefighter boots in Austin. Do Good Bus volunteers helped plant trees in Dorchester, Mass., when the band played the Paradise Club in Boston on Thursday night.
The Do Good Bus aims to foster awareness of the causes in the cities it will be driving through, as it follows “Foster the People” on its North American tour Sept. 13 to Oct. 20. “We want to create awareness of those causes and show people how they can give back to their cities,” Pontius said. “Our second goal is to create community on the bus. Finally, we want to encourage continued support, so that we hope that once people give back once, they are inspired to keep it going.”
Each Do Good event is a mystery ride. Riders don't know where they are going until the bus pulls up to the destination. “The reason we keep it a mystery is because it's fun,” Pontius said. “We want people to have no preconceived notions of what they'll be doing. You're committed to us and you trust us to pick something good. It's a way to just walk into a situation and do it, as opposed to be thinking about it on the way and getting nervous or unsure.”
Bryan Trainor and and his wife got involved in raising funds for the Do Good Bus because of something “as simple as a song,” he said. The two had been following the band since early this year. They learned about the bus after speaking with band members. Jennifer Barrette-Trainor, who does event planning and marketing for Fidelity Investments, saw an opportunity to parlay her love for music with philanthropy.
“We were just inspired by the activities of the Do Good Bus. We wanted to participate in their campaign but also do something locally, here,” Barrette-Trainor said. What she did was gather some volunteers and pass out food, as well as decorate the outside of the St. Francis of Assisi Food Pantry in Danielson.
“What better way to raise money than to have a really good band and a good philanthropy all come together for a great event?” said Barrette-Trainor.
“The Quiet Corner is so quiet, but when something like this happens, we want to make sure people know about it,” said Barrette-Trainor. “We hope it inspires people to donate more time and money to the charitable causes they believe in.”
For more information, go to dogoodbus.com. Foster the People will appear on “Saturday Night Live” on Oct. 8.