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January 16, 1998     Cape Gazette
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January 16, 1998

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24 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Community Continued from page 22 cert would be a great way to raise some money for gifts and food for a few needy families. The first concert drew twice as much mon- ey as the planners expected, and 12 families were helped instead of the six that organizers expected to help. Each year, the concert has served more families, and after the first year, founders formed a nonprofit corporation and a board of direc- tors to process the applications and administer the funds. Building a board Now, as they plan to 15lay a big- ger role in serving the needy in Kent and Sussex counties, they al- so want to expand and strengthen their board. Franklin Fountain, vice presi- dent and one of the founders of Milford Community Choir, said, "So many in the public are not fa- miliar with the oi'ganization. They think it only serves the immediate Milford area. "Actually, we started with board members and participants from other areas in southern Delaware, and we serve needy families of all races in all parts of Kent and Sussex counties. We want our board to reflect the dif- ferent parts of the counties as well." Jason James Sr., treasurer of the community choir organization said, "We want to diversify our board and include Hispanics, Haitians and more whites along with African-Americans. We don't want people to think that this is just an organization for blacks. "It's good to have representa- tion from many communities and many backgrounds." Shockley said that dqnations come from all parts of southern Delaware and those who attend the annual Christmas concert are of all races and from all communi- ties. He pointed out that members of the choir are from many areas, and the choir is joined in the concert by groups from such churches as the Lighthouse Christian Center, Reformation Lutheran Church, the Church of God and Avenue Methodist Church. Seeking awareness The current officers of the orga- nization would like for their work to be more widely recognized throughout southern Delaware, and they hope this recognition will bring more wide-spread sup- port from churches, town govern- ments and local organizations such as fire companies• Fountain said the community choir sent out letters in the late fall, asking for commitment from all the towns, fire companies and churches, and from many doctors in southern Delaware, but the re- sponse was poor. "We had about three towns and three doctors who answered us out January 16 - January 22, 1998 of all those," he said. "I hope they understood that we asking for sup- port so we could help others right in their communities. The amount of a donation is not important, we just want them to know what we are trying to do, and that any sup- port is important to us. Gaining awareness is important to us." All board members and those who work on the concert are un- paid volunteers. All money raised goes directly to the needy. This year, the orga- nization took a new tack in mak- ing donations and gave mostly gift certificates rather than toys, cloth- ing and food. In the past, committee members purchased items to match the ap- plicants; however, it was decided that the families could use the ex- perience of making their.own choices in clothing and household needs as well as in what their chil- dren received. Wal-Mart in Mil- ford has been involved with the Milford Community Choir since the first concert five years ago, and Diane Wambaugh, Wal-Mart community relations director, serves on the board of directors. James said that Wal-Mart has clothing, toys, food and household items so the board felt that the most efficient thing to do was to give gift certificates to be used at the department stores and at some other stores. Looking at life skills Shockley said one of the goals of the planned community choir program is to help people learn to better manage their money and re- sources. He pointed out that many people use their money unwisely because they don't have a concept of saving or of estimating interest costs on what may appear to be easy credit options. "Too many people mismanage their money; sometimes they go for a quick solution without think- ing how much it will cost them in the long run. They are taken ad- vantage of by loan companies or rental agencies in many cases," he .said. "The loan companies and furni- ture rental businesses are not do- ing anything illegal, but too many people don't have a concept of figuring how much they will pay in finance charges when they re- pay a loan, how many times over they could have paid for a piece of furniture while they rent it indefi- nitely. They don't realize they could save the amount of the rent for a few months, and then buy the furniture outright." Shockley said the community choir organization wants to be in- strumental in helping people real- ize some of these financial pitfalls and learning some of the life skills that will help them avoid ineffi- cient and wasteful use of their money. He said some low income fami- lies are unaware of services that are available to them, such as funding for child care for working parents and medical clinics. "Also, let's look at priorities," he said. "If you need food and still have cable TV, where are your priorities? If you need clothes and still go to the race track, where are your priorities? "This is where we would like to have an impact, helping people re- alize they can exercise a lot more control over their own lives." Members of the Milford Com- munity Choir Inc. board of direc- tors have not chosen a date or theme for a future concert, but they definitely have plans for the organization becoming a year- round influence in southern Delaware• They do all agree that first things must come first, and they are actively recruiting new board mem.bers, and those interested in joining the organization are en- couraged to contact current board members. Those who currently serve as officers are Shockley, president; Fountain, vice president; James, treasurer; Dorreatha Cornish, recording secretary; Myrna Shockley, executive secretary; Di- ane Wambaugh, public relations; and Grace Morris, family coordi- nator. For information on the organi- zation, call 424-1551 or 422- 6879. Contributions can be made to the Milford Community Choir, Inc., P. O. Box 766, Milford, DE 19963. 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