In the Spirit of Giving, Houston Appreciation Weekend Kicks Off

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Somewhere in Europe, Houston Appreciation Weekend was born.

Drake's tour manager, Jamil Davis, says the Toronto rapper was still traveling for his Would You Like A Tour? tour when he decided he wanted to have a special event in Houston, the city he holds close to his heart. (See: "November 18th.")

"He always just starts with ideas, and then we just execute them," Davis says. "There's a lot of ideas, but the big ones, like events, they get executed. More times than none, they get executed."

So here it is. After Drake announced Houston Appreciation Weekend via his Instagram account in March, the special weekend has kicked off. Starting June 5, people began volunteering in the Houston area through an organization called RockCorps. That's the only way to get a ticket to HAW's biggest event, the Warehouse Live concert.

REWIND: A Full Rundown of Drake's Houston Appreciation Weekend

Volunteering for tickets -- it's an idea that, according to Davis, Drizzy said was "perfect." And it's a concept that RockCorps specializes in.

RockCorps is an organization that works with music artists to host concerts for which the price of admission is four hours of volunteer work. It has held shows for Maroon 5 in Mexico City, Vampire Weekend in Manchester and Kanye West in New York.

But Drake is different. According to RockCorps organizer Kat Minett, the organization typically reaches out to artists about performing for volunteers. Drake contacted RockCorps.

"[This is] particularly special because Drake asked us to do this," Minett says. "He loves Houston, and wanted to come and give back."

Davis explains that for HAW, Drake only wanted to perform at Warehouse Live, the spot of one of his most famous performances. The venue's limited size, and the weekend's mission to give back to the city, stirred the question: who comes to the concert and how do they get tickets?

"How do we try to figure out if we sell the tickets?" Davis says of the discussion Drake's management had. "Do we give those profits to charity? What's the best way to do it? So, finally, we were like, We should do volunteer service."

While Drake isn't gardening for Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance, stocking shelves at the Houston Food Bank or working with Keeping Houston Beautiful like his concertgoers are, "through his show, it's facilitating work throughout the entire city," Davis notes.

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After its last event June 11, RockCorps will have hosted eight volunteer opportunities in the Houston area.

Roland Cotton, the health and wellness director of the Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance, called RockCorps and Houston Appreciation Weekend "a godsend." More than 20 volunteers came to the community garden Cotton oversees Monday, helping him harvest eight crates of produce. Without Drake's following of volunteers, Cotton said much of the produce would've gone bad -- withering away on vines with not enough people to harvest it.

"Everyone says the garden is beautiful," he said, "but no one wants to work in it."

Two volunteers at the garden, Annie Spellings and Berzionnea Davis, liked the idea of volunteering for tickets. Davis said the concept showed Drake "has real love -- genuine love -- for the city." Spellings said volunteering was "priceless."

"If someone were to offer me $300 for my ticket, I wouldn't sell it," Spellings added. "You gotta be there. It's gonna be the livest performance in Warehouse yet, maybe."

Drake will be giving back to Houston in other ways this weekend, too. June 13 is Houston Astros Appreciation Night. Davis says that proceeds for tickets sold in one section of Minute Maid Park will go entirely to the Astros Foundation. There will also be a celebrity basketball game June 15, also for charity.

As for the different parties at clubs that Drake will be hosting this week, Davis jokingly says "that goes to the strippers' charity." (He probably isn't really joking.)

Davis says Drake wants to make Houston Appreciation Weekend an annual event. As for if RockCorps would be involved in the future, the organization has already proven itself to Davis.

"Yeah, they're family," he says.

See the link for more information about volunteering for RockCorps. According to its Facebook page, enrollment at all the events is now full, but openings may become available on Eventbrite.


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