Mike Mennard, a writer and editor at the public relations office, is at home in many environments. When he's not typing insightful feature articles and dreaming up goofy advertisements in his cell-sized cubical at the rear of the public relations office, Mike is on the road with his guitar, cheering up senior citizens, performing in churches, and raising money for needy people around the world.
Working half-time at the public relations office gives Mike time for his music, and he uses every moment he can get. On weekends, Mike (backed up by his band) performs in churches and coffeehouses around California and beyond. He did 120 concerts in six states and Canada in the last year and a half. And during the week, he takes his brightly painted "happy guitar" to perform at a round of convelescent homes, including the Yountville Veterans' Home and the Crestwood Geriatric Treatment Center.
Mike is a Christian songwriter as well as a singer, and his weekend concerts generally feature songs which he has written himself. (The audiences at the convelescent homes are treated to a variety of oldies and goodies.) Mike describes his personal musical style as acoustic rock."I always try to write songs about people," he said. "People are more interesting than concepts."
Mike's interest in people has led him to promote World Vision, the world's largest Christian relief organization and highest-rated private charity. "I wanted to provide something concrete at my concerts," said Mike. "The biggest reason that 800 million people go to bed hungry every night is not that people don't give. It's that the money and food do not make it to the people who need it. The neat thing about World Vision is that it helps needy people and poor cities become self-sufficient. Everyone who works on one of its projects is a local, so American relief workers are not needed to keep the projects running after they are completed."
A month ago, Mike received an award for raising over $200,000 for World Vision in the last three years. He hopes to raise $500,000 more in the next three years. "World Vision is a very good charity," said Mike. "The money you give goes where it is supposed to go. I ask people to commit to $20 a month to sponsor a needy child, which is very little until you see what it does. Or people can make a one-time donation to World Vision. Letting people know and getting them to help is a tangible way for me to make a small difference in the world."