By Todd Camp
Being in the Turtle Creek Chorale family already calls for a tremendous amount of giving on each member’s part. You give of your talents, your voice, your energy, your soul, and, of course, your time.
Which is why it’s always inspiring to meet Turtles who still manage to find room to give just a little bit more. Rickey Phoummany is one of those people. Rickey took home the title of Mr. Charity America 2015 on Oct. 5 at the Round Up Saloon.
Mr. and Miss Charity America hosts fundraiser events and benefit shows for Home for the Holidays Texas Inc., an organization that helps provide travel services to people living with HIV/AIDS in order to allow them to go home to be with their families for the holidays.
“It’s [a charity that is] near and dear to me because I live and am surrounded by people who have HIV/AIDS who are struggling and need help, but sometimes are too shy or afraid to ask for help,” says Rickey, a Watauga native who also works as a substitute teacher for Grand Prairie ISD and Arlington ISD when not performing with TCC, and he choreographs for local high schools, working with show choirs and dance/drill teams.
“Having heard the story of how the Chorale went through the AIDS crisis in the documentary The Power of Harmony truly opened my eyes!” he said. “Knowing I can use my talents to raise money and awareness to help out my community is why I love this organization and the Turtle Creek Chorale.”
The charity itself already has a history with the Chorale, with the winner of TCC’s annual Miss Big Thicket fundraising event regularly going on to compete in the Miss Charity America Pageant. Not surprisingly, several former Miss Big Thickets have gone on to become Miss Charity America.
Rickey says that raising funds for an organization like Home for the Holidays Texas is rewarding enough considering the great work they do. In addition to providing much-needed travel funds for the holidays, they also fund emergency trips, trips for families to come to when someone is too sick to travel, funding for people who might be making a final journey home, as well as providing transport for funerals.
They also support other charitable organizations in DFW, including the Fort Worth and Dallas Chapters of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA), The United Court of the Lone Star Empire, the North Texas Council of Clubs, and many others.
“This title means a lot because knowing the community came together and helped donate funds to help me win my bid for Mr. Charity America, I feel it’s natural to give back to a community that supported me,” says Rickey.
Rickey encourages anyone who would still like to contribute to this very worthwhile cause to do so at HomeForTheHolidaysTexas.org. Donations are accepted year-round.