Don Rieder

“We are all survivors. We bounce back, with help”

– Don Rieder
Director, Actor, Clown, Master Teacher

I sought help from The AFC on two occasions. The first, for financial support for my partner Valerie Dean (performer, director, dancer, choreographer and master teacher) who was diagnosed with stage four cancer. The second, to help me purchase hearing aids so that I might continue to work after a work-related hearing loss.

In Valerie’s case, support from The AFC allowed both of us to focus our energies on a positive outcome. And when this wasn’t possible, we could focus on ‘being with dying.’ The peace Valerie experienced was profound and the relief of having the financial burden and chaos taken care of helped me to focus on my role as caregiver.

Professionally, the hearing aids allowed me to continue to work as a performer, director and teacher at my full capacity, with confidence, and receptivity. Personally, the hearing aids allowed me to hear, always hear, Valerie’s weakening voice and catch her whispered last words.

Without help from The AFC I would have been burdened by debt and deep grief, and left without the ability to hear and to work.

The community is always vulnerable. We always take risks – physical, emotional, financial – for the intangible rewards our creativity, love of the arts and community provide. Without recourse to The AFC community members like me would have fewer options. An already unstable environment would become unbearably cruel and uncaring.

I believe that success is a gift and it is said that ‘the gift must always move.’ In giving to The AFC, you share your success with others so that others may share their success with you when you need help. None of us in the community is easily replaceable; I would not want to lose anyone – we are such a small community – to neglect or because of selfishness. We are survivors. Fighters. We bounce back, with help.