Cranston resident Bob Graham is on a mission to fight hunger and homelessness in the nation. He’s asking for help simply through signatures.
Tomorrow, he’ll be at the Warwick Mall from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a petition to get the band, 5 Guys Who Care, on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
With a petition, he thinks the talk show host will welcome him and his musician friends to appear on television so they can perform a song he composed to combat hunger and homelessness. So far, he has nearly 700 signatures.
For Graham, the cause is near and dear to his heart, as his family member recently died as a result of losing his job, as well as his home.
“He was eating out of dumpsters and was found dead,” said Graham, who was unaware of his loved one’s situation prior to his death.
As a sign of his affection and as a means to raise both finances and awareness for hunger and homelessness, Graham wrote and recorded, “Now or Never,” a song that speaks to the issue. He hopes people will realize that homeless shelters and food banks across America are in need of assistance.
Through CD sales, he’s accumulating funds, which he is donating to various shelters and organizations.
“This is the first song I’ve ever written and I wrote it in one night,” he said. “It’s making a little bit of money.”
So far, he has made donations to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the Amos House, Crossroads Homeless Shelter, even the Soul Foundation, which is owned and operated by rock musician, Jon Bon Jovi.
He also held a fundraiser at Ball’s Sports Bar and Grille in Johnston recently and raised more than $1,700. The venue donated the use of their facility.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” said part-owner, Mike Allard. “We’re a small, local bar and we try to give back as much as we can.”
Graham is determined to continue his efforts and said he wants to go on the Ellen Show because she makes a positive impact on the world.
“Ellen cares about people,” he said. “She does a lot for people and is unbelievably popular so we all need to come together and help out.”
Graham said he gave up his job as a tracker trailer driver in order to support his mission. He spent his lifesavings of $60,000 in the last few years to promote the cause.
“No one has to suffer,” he said.
In fact, he said he doesn’t mind spending his own money to help, as he feels he’s letting people know the issue exists. He wants people to spread the word via word of mouth.
“I want to keep trying,” said Graham. “People don’t realize that if you tell someone about it, it can make a change. God only knows what door it’s going to open. It’s all about awareness.”
To further raise awareness, Graham contacted vocalist Jamie Fletcher, who sang in the band “Britny Fox” in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and now fronts “Modern Superstar,” to handle vocals on “Now or Never.” Recently, Graham and Fletcher, along with three musician friends, performed the song on The Rhode Show, as well as at the Rock Junction in Coventry. Among them was guitarist, Rich Antonelli.
“Whatever I can do to contribute to helping Bob in his fight to help those in need is a no brainer,” said Antonelli, who plays lead guitar for a local Bon Jovi tribute band, Bon Jersey. “He can’t do it alone.”
Graham agreed and said people can’t rely on the government for help, as a letter he recently sent President Obama seeking assistance was rejected. Still, this doesn’t stop Graham from rallying.
“If people think the government is going to help, they are crazy,” said Graham. “I want people to know that if we don’t stand together it’s not going to change.”
Graham also created an online petition at change.org/petitions/live-performance-by-5-guys-who-care. As of print time, it has gathered more than 160 signatures.
“Now or Never” can be downloaded on iTunes for 99 cents. Hard copies can be purchased for $2.99 at bgentertainmentri.com.