On December 13, Theater Pub will be putting on an “open mic night” in collaboration with the Individual Services Committee of Theatre Bay Area and the Exit Theatre to raise some funds for the Lemonade Fund. We recognize that not everyone will know what the fund is or how it works, and so what better way to bring home just how important this fund is than to interview a local theater artist who benefited from it? Many thanks to Erin Carter for talking to us about her experience and we hope to see you at the event on December 13, 8 pm, at the Exit Theatre in San Francisco!
So, in a nutshell, who are you?
Erin Carter: I am an actor, writer, director, and teacher, and recently I also became a recruiter! So any starving artists, please call me if you’re looking for a day job!
And how has the Lemonade Fund played a role in your life?
Erin Carter: The Lemonade fund appeared in my life at literally the darkest moment. Two years ago, I suffered a cerebral aneurysm and underwent emergency surgery. I spent 6 weeks in the hospital, during which time they removed part of my skull, operated on my brain, put my skull back on, waited for me to heal, re-taught me how to walk, eat, cook, function, and just be a human being in the world again. The Lemonade Fund appeared in my life in the midst of all this as the best possible surprise, an announcement over email informing me that my Bay Area theater community was looking out for me, that they knew what I was going through and that they were there for me. It was an enormous boon to me during an extremely traumatic time, and a reminder of the hugeness of heart and spirit that runs through this community. It gave me hope and strength, which are two things you need most when going through a medical trauma.
Did you know about the fund before you took advantage of it?
Erin Carter: I had heard of it, and I might have donated to it before.
How did you access the fund? How does it work for someone who needs it and what should they do to take advantage of it?
Erin Carter: I actually did nothing to apply for it. Someone in the theater community had heard what was going on with me and applied on my behalf. It was incredible, especially because neither my family nor I would have even thought to apply for the funds, but the Bay Area community was looking out for us. I am so grateful to that person and to Theater Bay Area for taking me under their wing.
Looking back, what’s the most significant impact the fund has had for you?
Erin Carter: Obviously, the money was huge. After six weeks in the hospital, my bills were significant. Additionally, I was unable to return to work for six months, and I needed all the extra funds I could get. But more than the money, I felt supported by my community. As theater practitioners, we are constantly trying to touch people’s lives, and yet here, completely outside of the theater, my community touched my life in an intimate, tangible way.
What else do you want to tell people about the Lemonade Fund?
Erin Carter: For a person and a family going through medical trauma, the stress is incomparable and touches every aspect of your life-physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, everything in your life changes. It is the time when we need each other the most and when you can make a real and immediate impact on a person. If you want to do something good, if you want to help someone in need, this is an incredibly impactful way to go.
And how are you doing these days?
Erin Carter: I’m great! I have been among the lucky 30% who survive a brain aneurysm and suffer little to no side effects. I am stronger now than ever, more vigilant with my life, more clear about who I am and where I’m going. The brain aneurysm was the absolute darkest time of my life, but it also brought about a greater sense of gratitude and clarity for me.