Everyone loves rooftops, but did you know about this rooftop party that contributes to charities and other good causes? Put your money where your heart is, with Saigon SOS.
Saigon is full of party people who like to get down. But if you’re looking for the party people who like to get down in support of more than simply having a good time, then Love Vietnam is the new monthly event to head to.
Love Vietnam Rooftop Party is an amalgamation of two Saigon based Facebook groups, Saigon Save Our Soul and Vietnam is Awesome, who have joined forces to support local charities and the work they are doing. Together, they host a monthly event on the rooftop terrace of Café-Restaurant to raise money and awareness for a chosen cause.
We caught up with Stu Miller, co-founder of Saigon SOS, to find out more about his parties. “I found that charitable events can be stiff and somber and realised that people respond more positively to supporting causes if they are having fun and socialising at the same time. So, last September I joined forces with Matt Ryan to organize community events and parties at the bar he was managing.” Stu explains.
Before Stu moved to Vietnam he lived in Korea for a couple of years, and this is where his idea for fundraising parties was started. “I had a friend who ran a local dog rescue centre, it was great work but she was doing it by herself. I wanted to help her raise money so started a monthly party in support. When I came to Vietnam I wanted to do something similar, but support different community groups with different needs.”
Starting September last year, Saigon SOS has hosted 5 events. The first was in support of the Quan Binh flood victims and has been the most direct-aid event to date, with Stu traveling to Quan Binh himself to meet with the families he had raised money for.
“We collected clothes and donations at the event, then cut out the middle-man to take them directly to those affected. We chose 20 families who were in a desperate situation. Some had suffered deaths of relatives and others had lost everything. All of them were in horrific living conditions, we were really able to make a direct impact on their lives” Stu tells me.
Since the first Saigon SOS event, Stu has organized parties for groups like Animal Rescue & Care, Hope Unending and Change VN. He has also organized pop-up parties at Windy City Diner to collect clothes for local orphanages.
The first joint party with Vietnam is Awesome was in February. Stu explained that he joined forces with them because of the positivity of the group and their willingness to promote Vietnam as a wonderful country. We had a chat with Philip Veinott, founder of ViA, to ask him why he got involved.
“The overall aim of the group is to create a positive experience for the members and help increase the popularity of tourism for Vietnam. We are now organizing events and want to support some really great charities and groups who help individuals and other issues in and around Vietnam.” Phillip explains.
ViA started as a personal blog for Phillip to share his experiences in Vietnam with friends back in the States. It’s positive, up-beat vibe meant that its popularity among locals, expats and tourists saw group numbers grow quickly. It’s now well over 15,000 members.
With the reach of his group, Phillip also brings increased interest from sponsors of the Love Vietnam events. “With more members and more engagement, we will be able to increase our events and sponsors, which in return helps charities and other organizations. We are committed in being the primary group in Vietnam for locals, expats and tourists to come together and contribute to the beauty and charm of this wonderful country.” he tells me.
Their event at the start of April was in support of Clean Up Vietnam and Vietnam Sach va Xahn, in preparation for their national Earth Day Clean Up on 22 April. The biggest event so far, it raised money for equipment to support grass root clean-up groups around the country.
“We feel that as beautiful as Vietnam is, there is an obvious issue with cleanliness of local environments. The cleanups organised for Earth Day are to engage local communities and encourage them to care more for their local environment. As well as raising money and awareness, we want to motivate people to volunteer on the day.” Stu explains.
Each event they host brings greater support from the Saigon community, especially locals. People seem to enjoy the feel-good factor of helping a worthwhile cause while enjoying a fun night out. Café-Restaurant rooftop is a great space to party and they have been very supportive of what we are doing. Magners and Platinum Beers are also the main sponsors now, with a free beer for the first 50 to arrive.
“The events are only a success if the community continues to support them. The passion lies in the music and the community projects we support. We want to give people the opportunity to have fun while supporting worthwhile community causes on a regular basis, not just the occasional one-off. Our long-term goal is to continue supporting wherever possible.” Stu tells me.
100% of what is raised in-terms of donations and sponsorship goes to support the chosen cause. Most groups also bring a donation box so that they can collect further donations at the event and Café-Restaurant supports further through sponsored drink offers. All funds raised are done through the venue or the charity itself and the event organisers and staff give their time voluntarily.
“If you’re a business in Vietnam that wants to support these causes we would love to hear from you and see how we can work together. It doesn’t matter what the prize is. Any business that wants to support what we are doing is welcome.” Phillip says.
As well as sponsorship and donations, Stu explains that volunteers are also welcome. “We are not just focused on money, we realise that not everyone has deep pockets but many have spare time. If you believe in what we are doing, or want to support a particular cause we work with, please get in touch with us via our Facebook page. Contributing time, expertise and passion is just as valuable”
The next Love Vietnam event is in support of Allambie Orphanage, which you can read about in the Community Focus article for April.