As the street level supervisor at Vernon’s Upper Room Mission, Bev Henke helps those in need attain such items as a loaf of bread, a Band-aid, a warm blanket, or something as simple as conversation.
Her office is also always open to those who want to help.
From the many community volunteers that do everything from making meals, scrubbing floors, and handing out the aforementioned items, the people that walk through the mission’s doors come from all walks of life.
That was the case when well-known local tenor Paul Moore approached the mission not too long ago when one of his family members, a mother of four who had recently separated from her husband, needed help moving items out of her house.
“The whole house was full of stuff and she couldn’t afford movers. I came by the mission to see if there was anything they could do. Three volunteers dropped their brooms, got into a van, and went with me to help move the stuff out of her house, no questions asked.”
The van came courtesy of the Fresh Start program, one of the Upper Room Mission’s outreach initiatives.
“When we get a call by someone in desperate need, we help the community by giving back,” said Henke. “We try to give as much as we can out of the abundance that is given to us.”
That message resonated with Moore, who went back to the choir he leads, the Kokanee Singers, to see if there was a way they could pay it forward.
“I was talking with my choir about our goals as a group and thought we could do a concert of Christmas carols for people who wanted them,” said Moore.
The tenor also approached All Saints Anglican Church, which he calls his go-to place for staging performances due to its warm acoustics and atmosphere, and booked a concert date for Tuesday, Dec. 17.
The concert is not only a way for Moore to give back, but also provide some Christmas cheer to those in the community who can’t afford to attend a show this time of year.
“These are hard times for people. We are really seeing that now as regular ways of income are drying up. When your mind is in trauma, or in flight, you’ll turn to other ways to find money… But I live in a community that helps each other,” said Moore.
“If basic needs are met, then people don’t have to turn to crime. They have a chance to do something better,” added Henke.
Founded two years ago by Moore, the Kokanee Singers will sing several well-known Christmas carols as well as John Rutter’s Christmas Lullaby at the concert.
“Members of the choir will also sing their favourite carols as solos or duets,” said Moore, adding, “We are excited about this concert and the familiar songs we get to sing during the Christmas season, and invite the whole community… There will certainly be an audience sing along.”
Admission to the concert will be by donation with all proceeds to support the Upper Room Mission.
“We hope that those who can afford to give a donation will give for those who can’t,” said Henke. “Sharing Christmas with the community is what it’s all about.”
Moore and the Kokanee Singers Upper Room Mission Benefit Concert takes place at All Saints Anglican Church, 3205 27th St., Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Moore and the Kokanee Singers will also be performing at Zion United Church in Armstrong, Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. Admission is also by donation, with proceeds going to the church.