Our Partners In Health: OCMS Benefit Concert for a Cause

Posted on 06/28/10

By Kanupriya Tewari

As the people of Haiti continue to recover and rebuild their lives after the devastating January 12 earthquake, we are grateful for the continuing support and solidarity shown by our partners.

Sixth-grade students from OCMS singing in the benefit concert.

Sixth-grade students from OCMS singing
in the benefit concert.

One such set of supporters are the choir students of Oldham County Middle School (OCMS) who, with the help of their teacher Charles Noderer, organized a benefit concert in Crestwood, Kentucky. On May 25, members of the OCMS choir performed a spring pops concert that raised $2,500 for Partners In Health’s (PIH) work in Haiti.

OCMS first held a spring pops benefit concert last year to raise money to help the survivors of Hurricane Ike on Grand Turk Island in the Caribbean. After seeing photographs of UNICEF tents serving as classrooms for local schools which had been completely destroyed by the hurricane, the students wanted to do something to help right away. They came up with the idea of a benefit concert, which—now in its second year—has become an annual tradition. Hearing of the disaster that took place in Haiti, the OCMS students decided that this year’s benefit should be dedicated to the people of Haiti and to support PIH’s efforts there.

Students performing songs from the musical Wicked.

“It's fantastic that a little old middle school choir in the middle of Buckner, Kentucky can raise $2,500 in one night singing pop tunes.” Charles says.

From the students’ perspective, they were united in their mutual goal of helping Haiti and they tremendously enjoyed organizing the pops concert. “I love being able to help others by doing what I love most and that is singing,” says one of the student participants, Ellen Emerson. Ellen was one of the roughly 200 musically inclined students from grades 6 to 8, who sang in the choir.

On concert day, as audience members entered the performance hall, a volunteer parent gave each person an envelope decorated by choir members asking them to benefit the cause. “I told the audience that they got into the concert free but they couldn't leave until they turned in their envelope with a donation,” Charles recalls.

The organizers found the PIH website to be a great asset for putting the event together. Charles used the site’s community tools to send out email invitations to the choir members’ parents and to organize fundraising. “It did a terrific job of helping basically an unorganized person like me get organized and put on an event to help PIH out.” For Charles, who has been teaching since 1970, helping the students to aid others through the OCMS benefit concerts has rekindled his teaching spirit. “I am glad to have been a part of the fundraising efforts”, Charles says. “I have the most amazing group of students and parents at Oldham County Middle School.” He notes that they truly live up to the choir’s motto, ‘Be Kind, Work Hard.’

For more information and ideas on how to organize your own event to support Haiti and PIH, click here.

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