Claire Stewart is a mighty woman: She’s a proud Australian who has also been a Cincinnatian for five years. Devastated by the fires in her home country and the widespread impact on the environment and all life, she has decided to raise money to help to mitigate long-terms damages. All donations will go directly to Australian organizations.
Stewart is joined by her two Australian partners, Jacqueline Wong and Jessie Ge.
Five years ago, Stewart founded the Cincinnati dance group, The Red Hot Dancing Queens (RHDQ). Their mission is to dance and celebrate diversity in each and every way, every day. The group prides itself on creativity, uniqueness, community, and being family-friendly and fun. Stewart lived in and was part of a dance group in New Orleans prior to her Cincinnati move, so the group has a bit of blended style from NOLA, Cincinnati, and Australia, and is comprised of 40–50 members from around the globe.
“Three weeks after moving to Cincinnati, I ended up in the opening day parade and I thought, ‘Wow look at all of the people in this parade! Maybe I should start a dance crew,’” Stewart says.
“We have won multiple awards and debuted at Cincinnati Pride,” she continues. “It was the day after marriage equality was approved in the states … we support diversity in all forms.”
She has combined her love of collective goodwill and her home country to create an event that will support the country on Australia Day, January 26. She is simultaneously concerned and upbeat at an opportunity to be of assistance to her homeland.
On Sunday, from 1–5pm, drop into Tillie’s Lounge and donate any amount. Donors will receive a delicious bikkie (Australian for cookie), other treats, and drinks. All are welcome, but please RSVP for the event here. One-hundred percent of the donations will be split between the Australian Red Cross; the Victorian Country Fire Authority, supporting firefighters on the frontline in the state of Victoria; and Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park in South Australia.
She explains that this island — which has been devastated by the fires — is home to koalas, kangaroos, and other marsupials, plus birds that are all unique to Australia. Donations will go toward restoring habitat and helping animal populations recover.
Nearly half of the Koala population has been decimated in the only part of the country in which the animals are disease free, she continues. Further, many other animals are now extinct.
“It will take years to find many that remain,” she says.
“It is utterly devastating and gutting on so many levels,” Stewart continues. “It has affected people, food, and shelter. Small businesses gone. It is just heartbreaking. I grew up in a bush suburb (her family is safe for now but trapped at home due to air quality), so I am used to seeing fires. But when I see fire tornados, lightening, and the heat — it is destroying lives and the environment.”
All money will go directly to Australia, not to the Red Hot Dancing Queens. For individuals who cannot attend, please click on the links to the organizations above and simply say “With love from Cincinnati, Ohio.”