The Evered House
Jennifer Ersalesi | This is Rutherford
JUN 23, 2020
"Rutherford has always been a touchstone place for me. Whenever I come back, I appreciate it more and more. For most of my life, it’s been a place I associated with loss— I lost my dad here, my mom, my brother Dan, my brother Robby, my sister Kathleen and several great friends. But now, thanks to Jackie (my wife) and having my kids nearby, even during this pandemic, it’s a place where things begin. Every corner has a memory, every field or park reminds me of where I played as a kid. Driving downtown fills me with flashes of my mom and dad taking me out to eat, parades I marched in— even just seeing the old firehouses reminds me of my grandfather Edwin Cole and great grandfather, Uriah Cole, who were both Chiefs in the Rutherford Fire Department. I’m proud of that history of service and thankful to be connected to it. Even just taking my dogs for a walk, I look at the little apartment above the Chinese restaurant on the corner of Union and Beech St and see where my mom was born. Rutherford is the place that gave birth to my dreams, and I’m grateful for that and always will be.”
Charles Evered grew up in Rutherford, NJ. In 1996, he was named a Distinguished Graduate of Rutherford High School (Class of 1983) for his outstanding achievements in playwriting, directing, and screenwriting. He graduated from Rutgers-Newark and received his MFA from Yale University, where he studied with director George Roy Hill. Evered has won several awards for his writing including The Crawford Award, The Berrilla Kerr Award, The Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship at The Manhattan Theatre Club, The Chesterfield/Amblin Fellowship, (Sponsored by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment), The Edward Albee/William Flanagan Fellowship, The Bert Linder Fellowship and The Lucas Artist Fellowship at the Millay Colony. His plays have been published by Broadway Play Publishing, Samuel French, and Smith and Kraus, and many others. His shows have run in New York City, Los Angeles, etc.
Evered's play, Adopt a Sailor, was performed at Town Hall in New York City and featured Sam Waterston, Eli Wallach, and Neil Patrick Harris. Additionally, Evered has written a number of screenplays and teleplays for studios such as Universal Pictures, NBC, Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures. Evered wrote and directed the feature film adaptation of his play Adopt a Sailor, starring Peter Coyote and Bebe Neuwirth. Adopt a Sailor was an official selection at more than twenty national and international film festivals and it premiered on Showtime.
One particular accomplishment that Evered is extremely proud of is the “Evered House,” a dream of his which came to fruition in 2017. It is a non-profit residency for military veterans, first responders, and those who serve in conflict zones. It is located in the Hi-Desert of Southern California, near Joshua Tree National Park. The house was dedicated in honor of his father, Charles J. Evered, a veteran of World War II. The house offers residencies lasting a month at a time during October, March, and April. There is no cost to the residents, and the Evered House provides an honorarium for travel and food.
Evered himself served in the United States Navy Reserve, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. "It’s been an honor to work on establishing the house— and an added benefit has been that it's kind of brought me back in touch with my dad, even though he’s been gone over four decades now. It’s put my whole career in perspective, helping me to identify what actually matters. I’ve become way more fearless, way more concentrated. It’s also made me a better writer. Mostly, it has made my world bigger. Rather than just hanging out with show biz folks, I meet journalists, vets, desert drifters, local politicians, musicians, builders, landscapers, off-road racers—it’s a lot of work, but really rewarding in the end."
In June, Evered married Jackie Figueiredo, whom he met in the 8th grade in Rutherford. Jackie is one of the co-founders of the Evered House. She explained, “The Evered House is a special place and it's one that I’m so thankful for. It’s a place that honors service and a place that honors the arts— both of which I hold such great respect for. Chuck’s vision to give back to this special community continues to inspire me every day and seeing his dream come to fruition means the world to me. I feel honored to be part of this project and an incredible family with a deep history of service.”
Due to the pandemic crisis, the Evered House has expanded its mission to invite not only veterans and those who serve in conflict zones overseas (war reporters, combat photographers, etc.) but also journalists who are documenting the pandemic and its effects across the nation. Many of these journalists are coming under attack and it is the goal of those at the Evered House to provide them with a safe retreat where they can write. First responders, front line workers, and healthcare workers are also invited.
Recently, a website was created for the Evered House which includes a brand new, updated video tour of the house, pictures from the many events they've hosted in the last few years, and bios of their amazing former residents. Click here to view the website.
On the website, there is a place to make donations. "Any amount is welcome," Evered told TIR, “It ALL helps us make sure people who have urgent stories to tell—have a place to create them. As I’m sure we all agree, those stories are needed now— more than ever.”
Evered’s son, John, served for three years as a US Naval Sea Cadet before graduating in 2019 from Princeton High School in Princeton, New Jersey. John also wrote a piece for the website. Here is an excerpt:
"The Evered House means a lot to me. Its mission is to provide and facilitate artistic and creative endeavors of former military members and those who serve in conflict zones, as well as first-responders. By all means, this includes the likes of combat photographers, war reporters, creative writers, painters, and musicians. Having seen the condition of the three-bedroom ranch house before the renovation compared to the present day, it was no simple accomplishment. The first day, my dad and I began the process shaping the two acres of wild landscaping all around the house. It involved nothing less than breaking down and moving chunks of rocks into various miscellaneous piles. It was honest and physically challenging work, but you’d learn to both value the excitement of cooling down through the use of hose water and seeing the progress you made each evening. The routine was to work more or less from sunrise to sunset, until the dark and the mosquito attacks became impossible to evade."
Evered’s daughter, Margaret, wrote a piece that is included on the website. Margaret Evered is a Junior at George Washington University studying political science as well as Russian history and language. This is an excerpt:
"While the Evered House is an incredibly important resource for those who serve to explore their creative passions, the man for whom the house was dedicated means a lot to us as well. Charles J. Evered was my grandfather on my dad’s side, who passed away when my dad was fourteen. He was a World War II veteran who raised his children to believe in the benefits of service, having witnessed the incredible feats of heroism and sacrifice during the war first hand. As I get older and reflect on the importance of my own parents in my life, I can only begin to imagine how hard it would be to raise your kids knowing they’ll never get to meet someone who inspired you so much. However, I’m incredibly grateful for my father for taking the time and energy to commemorate my grandfather and his life of service in this way. There are many ways to serve, as COVID-19 has reminded us. For some, service may look like shipping out on a naval carrier for nine months, it may mean working shifts as a nurse during a pandemic, and for others, it may mean volunteering time and resources to an organization like the Evered House, showing our gratitude for those who sacrifice for us on the front lines by offering them a space to create."