In early March, Drake posted the enigmatic first mention of HAW or “Houston Appreciation Weekend” via Instagram. I have to admit that since that moment, I was skeptical of the whole premise. Living in Houston for 20 years may have initially skewed my view because all I could think was “he isn’t from here.” As specifics started trickling in about the events, my skepticism was quickly replaced with interest.

Along with other events, Drake announced a show at Warehouse Live on Friday June 13. Considering the limited capacity of the venue and the overwhelming demand for tickets; this event was make or break regarding the validity of this whole “Houston Appreciation” idea for me, mentally.

How much would tickets cost? Who would have access to purchase them? Would pocket depth be the deciding factor?

It turned out that there was only one way to obtain said tickets: volunteer in Houston.

Drake and his team along with RockCorps (http://www.rockcorps.com/) scheduled multiple volunteer events around the city including the Houston Food Bank, the Community Garden on Griggs Rd. and a trail clean up along White Oak Bayou near downtown. Once the first set of events opened for signup, all were filled within minutes, possibly seconds. With that, the “Houston appreciation” idea was gaining clout and I set my mind to get involved with one of the events.

After semi-stalking RockCorps’ FaceBook page and refreshing my browser countless times, I ended up with a spot to volunteer at one of the trail cleanup events. The turnout was great despite the June Houston heat and the early start time (8AM on a Sunday morning, at that). All in all we walked a few miles, and cleaned up the White Oak Bayou Trail from Stude Park to the University of Houston Downtown campus. Everyone who came out to volunteer did just that. It wasn’t the “sign up but don’t show up” type of volunteer event, these tickets had to be earned.

It was refreshing to see such a diverse group of people leave their cool at home and get their hands dirty for a good cause. The coordinators of the event also checked and double checked participants’ IDs as well as keeping record of ticket numbers to ensure only people who actually volunteered would be able to walk into Warehouse Live with a ticket.

Ok, Drake. I get it, I get it. Hundreds of people ages 16 and up were JUMPING at the idea of volunteering around their city. Granted, you end up with coveted concert tickets but that does not negate the fact that people are putting in effort and hours for the betterment of this city. Maybe he could have sold tickets and donated the proceeds to charity. Or even just cut a check to a local charity. But, getting people involved in the community has such a further reach. Teach a man to fish, type of thing.

As the event wrapped up, everyone stood around together in an exhausted silence waiting for further instruction. Drake’s team spoke and everyone used whatever energy was left to yell “Houston Appreciation Weekend 2014” in unison for the camera. Considering the premise along with the effort and events leading up to the concert this Friday, I have a feeling it will be talked about for a while.

On a final note, go out and volunteer. Do something good for your city, for your community. Appreciate it.