FAIRFIELD, CT - On Dec. 19, a fundraising concert at Fairfield Theatre Company (FTC) Stage One will benefit Harmony4kidz (www.harmony4kidz.org), a charity whose mission is to make music and art accessible to all children.
In addition, a toy drive on behalf of ABCD Early Learning Development in Bridgeport is underway. Harmony4kidz founder, Irena Makarchuk (Fairfield), hopes to collect 1,000 toys to be distributed to underprivileged children.
“Every child deserves a toy on Christmas,” she says. “We are collecting toys for children ages 3, 4 and 5. We ask that the wrapped gifts be bought to the show or dropped off at the FTC.”
Performers at the Dec. 19 fundraiser will include Makarchuk, who is a vocalist and acoustic guitarist; Glenn Behrle (Milford), who plays guitar, mandolin and banjo as well as sings harmony; John Jarvis (Milford), a bass guitarist; Jon Kelly (Stratford), a singer/songwriter and guitarist; Bubba Ericson (Naugatuck), singer/guitarist and vocalist, Carol Piro (Deep River.) Surprise guest performances will be announced the night of the event.
Also performing are young artists: vocalist Alyson Dentz, 18, (Fairfield) and pianist Naoimi Ulisse, 12, (Trumbull).
Doors open at 7 p.m. with a reception, followed by live music from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $25. Tickets can be purchased online at https://fairfieldtheatre.org/shows/stageone/irena-hart-harmony4kidzor at the door.
Harmony4kidz, founded by Makarchuk in 2006, combines her two passions: a love of music and a desire to help children whose parents cannot afford voice, piano or guitar lessons.
“Music is a powerful way to get people involved in helping each other … helping those less fortunate is a wonderful way to give back,” says Makarchuk. “This annual holiday concert has become a tradition at FTC and it is a very exciting fundraising opportunity for Harmony4kidz. Money raised at this concert will allow us to make a bigger impact in our community.”
Harmony4kidz offers music workshops for children ages 3-5 at Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc. (ABCD). The charity also provides individual vocal and piano lessons for children ages 6 to 18.
The charity was founded when, after meeting homeless children living in Union Square Park, in New York, Hart was inspired to write her song “Save The World.”
ABCD is a nonprofit agency founded as the anti-poverty agency for the Greater Bridgeport area in September of 1964 by the Office of Economic Opportunity. Working toward the eradication of the “paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty in this nation,” ABCD presently serves more than 35,000 individuals annually through its broad range of services in a six-town area covering Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull.
From 2012 to 2014 Harmony4kidz provided services to teens living in a group home managed by Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program (GBAPP).
“Working with the GBAPP teens was very fruitful,” reports Makarchuk. “These kids enjoyed art, pottery and jewelry-making workshops at The Studio in Fairfield. Also, they took weekly music lessons.”
Makarchuk describes how Harmony4kidz helped one teen, in particular. Eighteen-year-old Jessica Bisonette, of Bridgeport was the recipient of weekly saxophone lessons. In 2014, she performed at Harmony4kidz 8th annual Peace Concert with a saxophone that she now owns. “Jessica is a perfect example of what music can do for one young person,” she says.
The partnership with Harmony4kidz partnership was win-win, notes Rudy Feudo, executive director of GBAPP. "We work with some really talented kids, who don't have the resources to purchase their own instruments or have their music recorded professionally," he says. "Irena offered her time and expertise to work with these youths. She is committed to raising money that will impact their lives.”
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