For nearly 10 years, one local congregation has worked to support the Albany communities of Arbor Hill and Sheridan Hollow by helping to provide a refuge for the children of those neighborhoods when school is out.
The First United Methodist Church of Delmar has hosted the Voices of Hope Benefit Concert since 2003 as a member of the Interfaith Partnership of the Homeless. The concert raises funds for Interfaith’s summer youth programs, which provide activities, field trips and healthy lunches to hundreds of children each year.
“These children would basically be wandering the streets if they didn’t have a place to go,” said Nan Rabinow, the church’s office manager and an organizer of the event. “It really provides a safe haven for them.”
At the end of the summer program, each child is given a backpack full of school supplies for the coming school year. All of the items are donated through the work of the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless.
The concert is in its 17th year and features musicians from throughout the Capital District. It was held in another location before the Delmar congregation picked up the event.
Rabinow said the First United Methodist Church of Delmar has had an ongoing relationship with the Interfaith Partnership for more than 15 years, often providing meals at local shelters and raising funds for its various programs.
“For our church, one of the major components of our mission is community outreach,” said Rabinow. “Everything we do is with that vision in mind, and (hosting the concert) was a natural fit for us.”
She said the goal is to raise $3,000 at this year’s event to beat what was raised for the youth program at the 2011 concert.
Each day, the Interfaith Partnership’s Sheridan Hollow Drop-In Center serves 70 to 115 individuals and families, while their Emergency Shelter served more than 400 people in 2011. About 86 percent of the individuals served are between 18 and 29 years old, with the average length of stay being 22 days.