While most spend their birthdays receiving, Jose Case spent his giving to others, making sure at Oklawaha Brewing Company during the first-ever “Jose Day!” Friday that a local nonprofit benefited from his celebrity.
Even when the bartender waved Case’s money away and said, “Happy birthday, Jose” for a beer on the house, Case without hesitation walked a few steps down the bar to put that money into the donation jar for Henderson County nonprofit Children and Family Resource Center, the beneficiary of the event.
In addition to the donation jar, Oklawaha Brewing donated $1 to the nonprofit from every pint sold Friday of its “Lookin’ Good!” summer brew, which was named in honor of Case, who often uses that expression.
“Jose approached us about it maybe two weeks ago and told us it was his birthday on Sept 25. He asked, ‘Would you guys want to do something to raise money for a nonprofit?’” said Trey Singleton, manager of Oklawaha Brewing. “That’s all he really thinks about, is doing good for other people.”
“After some discussion we decided on Children and Family Resource Center. This not only raises money for them but also brings awareness about them and what they offer, maybe to a different demographic.”
As he sat at a high-top table Friday early evening enjoying his on-the-house brew, Case smiled his bright, contagious smile and explained the natural connection he has with Oklawaha Brewing Company and supporting others where and how he can in the community.
“This place has always been good to me, like many other places. I thought, since we have a good relationship, why not do something good?” Case said.
“Oklawaha Brewery does a lot of good and gives back to this community. In my opinion, the most successful businesses are the ones that are more community-minded; in the long run it’s more beneficial for them. When times get tough, people don’t forget that.”
And as several of Case’s friends came and went, they each reiterated that he practices what he preaches when it comes to being community minded.
“He does this for every kind of cause that comes his way; he will help you out,” said local musician Tim Kuykendall after fist-bumping Case. “Jose has always helped me. He is my hero.”
“He’s the unofficial mayor of Hendersonville; this is the least we can do for Jose,” said Joe Dinan, owner of Oklawaha Brewing. “When we realized he didn’t have anything going on on his actual birthday, we said, let’s party, get charities involved — that was all him.”
Case was eager to hear the scheduled performer Friday night, local favorite Eric Congdon, and expected him to draw a crowd. Less than an hour prior to closing, evidence of that surfaced in the amount of “Lookin’ Good!” pints that had been purchased.
Case’s birthday celebrations will continue throughout the weekend. Sunday, Southern Appalachian Brewery, as it has for the last nine or 10 years, will host Case’s annual birthday party with cupcakes, beer and live music.
This year, Crooner Paul will perform on the brewery’s outdoor stage from 4-7 p.m., with a special karaoke set performed by Case.