During her first couple of years in San Miguel de Allende, a colonial city in Central Mexico, Dallas native Carrie Cameron spent most of her time creating art. But then, she thought there had to be more to retirement than just making beautiful things.
“I have such a wonderful, blessed life and I just feel like it’s my duty to give it back,” she says.
The question was how.
One day, Cameron talked to her friend, singer Maylee Thomas, and the two decided to put together a music festival for a cause.
Thomas committed her band and last year they flew from McKinney to San Miguel for the first Magic Town Music Festival.
“When I researched who to give the money to in San Miguel, I wanted to make sure it was someone who didn’t have a big overhead,” Cameron says. “That the money would be paying for all that.”
She says she learned about a non-profit called Casa de los Angeles – the Home of Angels, a daycare for single mothers in poverty. Casa de los Angeles is mostly run by volunteers – even this promotional video was shot by a volunteer.
Through her research, Cameron was amazed to see how much help was provided to about 100 single moms. It touched her because there was a time when she too was a single mother.
“I really, really struggled,” Cameron says. “I was working three jobs, I was cleaning houses, I was working in a courthouse, my mom had a convenience store and I had two boys to raise. So that was really difficult for me. And then, I got married again and had a lot of money.”
That’s when she decided, that no matter what, she wanted to spend her life giving back.
She wanted to do it the right way. As a fairly well-to-do artist in Dallas she was always invited to charitable events. Two things often bothered her. One: those charities where most of the proceeds – say 90 percent – went to expenses, and less to those in need. Two: charity concerts where working musicians were not paid but were expected to cover their own expenses.
“What we do is we bring the musicians down – we pay for their flights, all the housing is donated from people in town and then, we give them all some spending money,” Cameron says.
Last year, Cameron flew in 50 musicians from Dallas, Austin, Nashville and L.A. She says she feels it’s a fair deal for all – she, her partner and other retirees put the event together for free. Musicians and venues get paid. All that takes about 75 percent of the money and then Casa de los Angeles gets the other 25 percent.
This year the Magic Town Music Festival raised $10,000 for the daycare center and there are plans for a third festival in the Spring. There’s a side benefit too, Cameron says: the feeling that, even in retirement, there’s lots of rewarding work yet to be done.