BETHLEHEM For some, music is a source of joy and entertainment. For other, it provides food and security during an uncertain time of year.
Since 2003, the First United Methodist Church of Delmar has hosted the Voices of Hope Benefit Concert 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.
“I think this event speak highly of not only our faith’s community, but the Capital District community as a whole,” said Nan Rabinow, event director and the church’s office manager.
Nearly $16,000 has been donated to the Interfaith Partnership of the Homeless since 2009. The concert is in its 19th year and features musicians from throughout the Capital District. It was held in another location before the Delmar congregation picked up the event 11 years ago.
For 15 years, the 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. Members also often help serve meals at local shelters and raise funds for the Interfaith Partnership’s various programs.
Eric Guzman, Interfaith Partnerships’s marketing director, said the summer youth program unofficially began in 2007.
“The program really started as our executive director just making sandwiches and going to spend some time with the kids at the park,” said Guzman. “It’s now a full summer program, which lasts 11 weeks.”
Kids do not have to register, and there is no cost. Each day at noon, all of the children in attendance are served a healthy lunch. They also spend the day playing games, making crafts and staying active. Last year about 1,770 lunches were served, and 986 children participated for the summer. The program sees about 40 children per day.