Commercial art gallery

Upcoming documentary screenings continue local gallery owner’s efforts to help Ukrainians

Joann Condino (middle) of Three Pines Studio, with some of the many community helpers who helped bring her towel fundraiser to life for the World Central Kitchen. The project has raised more than $46,000 for WCK’s work feeding Ukrainian refugees. “Dishtowels are my reservoirs,” Condino said of the effort. (Courtesy picture)

A special series of World Central Kitchen documentary screenings will take place at the Lyric Theater beginning Friday, April 29, 2022 at 7 p.m. The evening will include a reception in the lobby of the Lyric, presentations on the current status of relief efforts in Ukraine and a private screening of “We Feed People,” a 90-minute documentary directed by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. The film is about World Central Kitchen founder, celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés, and the organization’s work to provide fresh, nutritious meals to communities affected by natural disasters and other crises around the world.

The documentary will be screened from April 30 to May 5 at the Lyric. These donation-only screenings provide another opportunity for people in this community to help those suffering from the war in Ukraine, as 100% of every dollar donated will go directly to the World Central Kitchen work that takes place there (and in the surrounding countries to support refugees).

The World Central Kitchen is a well-respected non-profit organization that provides nutritious meals to refugees in war-torn areas.

The story of how this incredibly special opportunity – screenings take place ahead of National Geographic’s official release of the Ron Howard-directed documentary is again rooted in the deep empathy and connective support for Ukraine in this region.

On the first weekend of the war in Ukraine, Joann Condino, owner of Three Pines Studio in Cross Village, was reading a poem. It was Sunday afternoon; the war had started on Friday. The poem was very much about the ordinary things that are scheduled in a week: from chores to tea time – the normal “things” in life. And as she read, Condino was struck by the contrast.

“When there’s war, there’s no normalcy,” Condino said in a Tuesday, April 19, phone interview. “It just hit me. I had my limit then of seeing sunflowers and Ukrainian flags posted on Facebook. There’s no action in that. It may help people feel better, but it does nothing to help people who are suffering. I knew I had to do something.

And for Condino, something almost always comes down to Art.

Known for his beautiful block-printed tea towels, Condino set to work designing towels that could be sold in support of World Central Kitchen’s work. She created two designs, using blocks to print sunflowers and wheat trees in bright yellow and sky blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. 50% of the profits will go to the World Central Kitchen.

“I thought maybe we would be able to donate $1,000,” she said. “Right now we’re at $46,000 and I’m hoping to hit $50,000 by the end of the week.”

Condino said the tea towels have become a real community project. “Cross Village has 62 full-time residents. It was kind of like that old Loreal ad from the 80s, where a friend tells a friend who tells a friend who tells a friend. Before I knew it, I had a billion towels to make,” Condino said with a laugh. “It’s wonderful. And I get it: people want action. They want to do something, and right now the only thing we can do is donate money.

Condino said she was grateful to those who supported this project, knowing that they are impacting the people of Ukraine through the World Central Kitchen.

“Posting photos and expressing solidarity is fine, but it doesn’t put food in the mouths of those who need it right now. Money does that, and I won’t stop this project until there’s peace and people go hungry.

Since the Russian attack on Ukraine, more than 10 million Ukrainians have fled the country to take refuge in neighboring countries. World Central Kitchen is working on the ground with local restaurants to provide hot meals to these families. This work is one of the largest relief efforts to date for World Central Kitchen, and they plan to serve more meals each day.

Highlighting the work — and showcasing the nonprofit that receives these donations from the community — helps create a bridge of understanding about the significance of the World Central Kitchen in times of war.

In tribute to the suffering people of Ukraine, the Lyric Theatre, Harbor Springs and Three Pines Studio, Cross Village are hosting the fundraising event for World Central Kitchen. The suggested donation is $25 for this first evening of screenings, April 29.

“We are very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to screen this incredibly special documentary,” said Scott Langton, Executive Director of Lyric. “José Andrés is a force of nature, and this 90-minute documentary is a wonderful and inspiring experience to watch. We are very grateful to Nat Geo, and we hope to see many donations coming in to support the work of the World Central Kitchen. We also collect checks and money for those who may not be able to screen but want to support World Central Kitchen, as 100% of all donations go directly to the organization.

The first screening of the documentary takes place on April 29 and a donation of $25 is suggested for this event. The documentary will screen from April 30 to May 5 with a suggested donation of $10. For screening times, please see the Lyric Theater website

To donate to the World Central Kitchen, people can also visit this link: make a donation.