CHEERS TO LOCAL LEGENDS
Each year, around the globe, we get together with Matthew McConaughey to say thanks to people who trusted their spirit and made a difference in their community. Get to know our 2021 Local Legends below.
Yana and Khrystyna have dedicated their lives to showing people how beautiful and delicious local Ukrainian products are. Their organization, Foodies, organizes collaborations with farm products along with catering and consulting. They are also forming a loving and supporting community of food enthusiasts, and organize charity events for older adults.
For instance, in collaboration with brand partners and volunteers, Foodies organized a Christmas charity lunch for 1,000 persons in need. And in 2020, they collected 470-holiday cupcakes for lonely grannies.
Andrii is a bartender from Lviv, interested in local ingredients – he creates cocktails from local fruits, herbs, and even vegetables. As a founder of a bar, Andrii feels responsible for any waste they are producing. His bar, Sino Experimental, uses a QR-code menu instead of paper ones and natural straws, instead of plastic. To go above and beyond, Andrii planted 1000 trees near his bar, and dreams of creating a garden of fruit trees in the middle of Lviv.
Roman Nabozhnyak is a war veteran and entrepreneur who successfully returned to civilian life and opened a pastry shop called Veterano Brownie. This place became a safe space for people with war experiences and for those who temporarily moved from Eastern Ukraine seeking asylum and peace. Veterano Brownie helps them to adapt and find a job and supports families of the fallen.
Igor Mezentsev is a chef, a fan of local products, and the founder of the Topot gastronomic project. Topot is a trip for chefs, where all participants prepare meals only from what they can collect or hunt. Everything is prepared exclusively in the wild, without the use of any modern devices or equipment. The main goal of the project – explore Ukrainian local products and cooking techniques and make them popular among a wider audience.
Jason is a former NASA mechanical engineer who left to pursue his true passion in music. Now a prominent figure of the R&B and urban scene in Nashville in the United States, this Local Legend created a community of diversity by beginning Sunday Night Soul, a bi-monthly soul-artists music event. During recent challenging times, Jason stayed true and stood by his mission, continuing to provide ‘a stage’ for his fellow artists by reimagining the events as live streams together with the venue he collaborated with.
Justin is a singer, guitarist, and organizer of the ‘Tribute to Benefit’ concert series in Charlotte in the United States. Since 2013, Justin has organized many bi-annual tribute concerts, raising more than $100,000 to benefit his community. Using his music for good has had a far-reaching impact on his community, for example he works closely with HousingFest, an annual music festival that merged with Men’s Shelter of Charlotte to help fundraise to end homelessness in the area.
Melissa is a longtime resident of New Orleans in the United States and is a locally renowned dance party host. She’s credited as the first to have implemented a vaccine mandate at her New Orleans dance parties, where she spins classic funk as a way to help keep her community safe. Her actions inspired many other venues to do the same. When inevitable venue closures did take hold, rather than just wait to welcome New Orleans’ freshest talent back to her parties, she took action and curated digital mixtapes to keep the music flowing into her community.
Justin is a Program Director for Musicians Corner Nashville – a program of Centennial Park Conservancy which is a nonprofit organization based in Nashville in the United States. Their mission is to preserve, enhance, and share the city’s famous landmarks as places to bring the community together to enjoy live music. During this past challenging year, Justin and his team kept their work going by providing virtual entertainment experiences for Nashville instead. Their efforts kept their community connected to music and supported many musicians along the way, who would otherwise have been out of work.
Jess is a local musician living in Dallas, Texas, in the United States, who turned her personal history into incredible story-telling songs and a community-focused business in her local area. Understanding the emotional, therapeutic power of music, she trusted her spirit and formed the non-profit Swan Strings which provides in-person and now also virtual music lessons in Dallas. Always looking out for others, she offered free lessons for a period of time during this past year when she recognized her community needed it.
When the pandemic forced The Berkley to temporarily close its doors, general manager Knut Wylde, led the decision to focus on supporting frontline services, neighbours and staff. The Berkeley 999 Drive Thru was born within days of the announcement of the first lockdown and served 80,000 meals to firefighters, police, ambulance teams and street cleaners. A further 250 meals a day were delivered to the vulnerable and elderly in the local community with help from Westminster Council.
Matt’s story is one of courage and respect. Matt, a bar owner in Toronto, was hit hard during COVID, but he wasn’t about to give in. When it was safe to do so he held limited capacity openings. He even helped other businesses that needed some extra space, by offering to use the bar as storage.
He felt an obligation to do even more. He decided to take a job that he once held, working at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto in the operating room as a nursing aide. He was thankful and proud to be welcomed back into the role, a role he was grateful to be given during such a difficult time.
Olivia lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia as a bartender. COVID hit, and Olivia found herself out of a job. But finding positivity in the darkness is always an important thing. For Olivia, that was getting closer to her partner. The pandemic – it brought them together. The two are now engaged. They wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion with their friends and family, but how? They both thought, why not create a podcast around their wedding plans? With that, the ‘Marriage Guys’ podcast was born. Though it began as a way for them to tell their own story as a queer couple, it morphed into a community podcast, where they began telling the stories of others.