When tragedy struck the family of a long-time journalist and founder of the website NEPA Scene, his friends in the local arts and entertainment community stepped in to lend a hand.
On Christmas Day, fire destroyed the home of Rich Howells’ family. Everyone inside survived, but the family did not have insurance and there were injuries.
Scott Kucharski and Jason Riedmiller, contributing photographers to NEPA Scene, decided to help their friend and colleague by organizing a benefit event to raise money for Howells’ family. On Friday, Jan. 18, the FM Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre will host Lifer, The Crowning, Send Request, Noxen, Behind The Grey, Anytime Soon and comedy sets by Zach Hammond and Dan Hoppel.
Kucharski said the idea was to reach out to artists whom NEPA Scene had covered. Lifer, for example, had appeared in a recent edition of the site’s podcast, and the band reached out, offering items for a raffle that will raise additional funds for the family.
“My thought was bands that [Howells] had pushed in the last year,” said Kucharski, who began photographing concerts for NEPA Scene last June.
The recently reunited Lifer was signed to Universal Records; some of its members went on to form the platinum-selling Breaking Benjamin.
Kucharski credited A.J. Jump, co-owner of Wilkes-Barre venue Karl Hall, with immediately stepping up to host the benefit; the organizers later decided to move it to the Kirby Center lobby due to its larger capacity.
According to the benefit’s event page (where you can buy tickets to the show):
Mrs. Howells received burns while saving her husband and autistic son from the second floor of the home. She had to be airlifted to [Lehigh Valley Health Network] Burn Center and is still recovering. The rest of the family has had to make it through the holidays with the help of friends and clothing and monetary donations. The family did not have insurance.
Howells founded NEPA Scene in 2014. In addition to publishing articles and photos, the media outlet hosts arts and entertainment events in the area and the NEPA Scene Podcast, a weekly video interview series that’s aired live.
For more information about the all-ages benefit for the Howells family, visit the event’s Facebook page.