Forward thinking

Live music fundraiser supports people experiencing homelessness in Boulder

Los Cheesies perform at the Caribou Room in Nederland. Photo courtesy Shawn Camden.

Despite Boulder’s long-standing reputation as a liberal lodestar, it’s no secret that too many people here fall through the cracks when it comes to housing. Just ask Jennifer Livovich, founder and executive director of Feet Forward, a local nonprofit providing peer-led support and resources for people experiencing homelessness. Since 2020, her organization has helped the city’s unhoused residents navigate limited available services with emphasis on low-barrier, housing-focused support.

As Livovich knows through her past personal experience living outside in Boulder, it takes community action to move the needle when it comes to creating healthy and humane outcomes for people without houses. That’s why she linked up with local musician and former restaurateur Shawn Camden, then-owner of Sancho’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant, to provide regular hot meals for unhoused people each week at the Boulder Bandshell.      

“It just hit me: Why does it take a holiday for poor people to get a hot meal? And so in my mind, I created a program … but I had a zero clue how I was gonna make that happen,” she says. “I’d seen Shawn on Facebook volunteering [serving tacos] at the shelter … and I said, ‘That’s really incredible. Would you consider helping me?’” 

Camden’s answer was a resounding yes — and now, years later, the pair are upping the ante with the launch of what they hope will become an annual live music fundraiser called Forward Palooza. The March 10 event at the Roots Music Project will feature Camden’s fun-forward fusion band Los Cheesies alongside local R&B outfit The Saints and Mexican-born, Denver-based troupe Grupo Huitzlopochtli Danza. All proceeds from the concert will benefit Feet Forward and its mission to support people experiencing homelessness. 

“A fundraiser should be fun; it shouldn’t be boring. And this is a concert at a beautiful nonprofit venue, so people are gonna have a blast,” Camden says. “But I hope people [leave with] a sense of community, and a little bit more awareness of what’s going on around us.”

Whether concertgoers show up for the underlying mission or Los Cheesies’ freewheeling scramble of ska, reggae, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, Livovich and Camden hope the evening will be the first of many opportunities to enjoy good music and good company while supporting an important local cause. 

“We are driven by hope, and we are driven by lived experience. And we are making an incredible impact with the homeless community in Boulder,” Livovich says. “So come out [to the fundraiser] and have a good time, and maybe meet some neighbors you’ve never met before.” 

ON THE BILL: Forward Palooza with Los Cheesies, The Saints and Grupo Huitzlopochtli Danza. 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 10, Roots Music Project, 4747 Pearl St., Suite V3A, Boulder. Tickets here.


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