By Nicolas Kalgora, Animator for New Brunswick
Share Lent, a crucial fundraising period for Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada, ended in style for our members in the Diocese of Edmundston, N.B. Organizing a benefit concert was a first for them. It involved singing to entertain people, raising awareness of the organization they have been supporting for decades and, of course, raising more than $5,000.
From conception to conclusion: the organizing process
Some might say that it was the idea of Reine Gauthier, a member of the Edmundston diocese executive committee. Gauthier herself said, “It was my idea, but it was the fruit of the collaboration of many!”
Gauthier is also a member for the choir La Joie des Ainé-es whose mission, as its name suggests, is to bring joy through song to nursing home residents. This spring, the group had sung in six nursing homes in the region. “We sing songs from today and the past,” Gauthier said. “Residents are happy to have us. We often see them in tears when the familiar tunes of their youth bring back memories.”
It was during this tour of nursing homes that Gauthier had an inspiration. She recalled, “I asked our choir director, Paul Hébert, if it would be possible to do a concert in aid of Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada. He said yes without any hesitation.” However, Hébert had one condition: that one more choir should participate. So, Gauthier approached Morel Morneault, the director of Les Balladins du Dimanche, a choral group of music lovers that features four mixed voice ranges. To her pleasant surprise, Morneault, too, agreed. Now, nothing could hold back our volunteer. She was convinced that all that was left to do was to get the other members of the diocesan council on board. This proved to be easy!
Gauthier said, “We formed a committee Ghislaine Clavet, who is in recruitment for the diocesan council executive committee. Each person took on a specific role: printing tickets, costing, distribution, sales, publicity, etc.” In addition to Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada members, the choir members were happy to help by selling tickets to their friends and family. Not to be outdone, the local Knights of Columbus chapter became official sponsors, making a donation and taking charge of printing tickets.
To publicize the event, Gauthier and other volunteers advertised it in parish leaflets and on the radio with the help of diocesan communications officer Claudia Lolot. Lolot also did a great job promoting the concert on social media, including on our Northwest N.B. Facebook page (see post in French). For an added boost, short clips of the choirs’ rehearsals were posted on social with calls to buy tickets. On the afternoon of the concert on Sunday, April 30, a coffee sale was also held to raise additional funds.
Amazing, inspiring results
For Nicole Décarie, president of the Edmundston diocesan council, “The event was a success on all fronts.” She reported, “The choirs sang songs that warmed our hearts. People’s excellent participation allowed us to raise $5,022!” Décarie thanked Gauthier, the initiator of the activity; members who helped sell tickets; and everyone who bought tickets. She especially thanked the choristers, choir directors Hébert and Morneault, the pianist and the violinist for their collaboration in making the concert a great success.
Clavet, who was involved from the beginning in organizing the concert, was pleased that almost all the tickets―about 300―were sold. She said, “I am very happy with this new initiative that has had great results. First of all, people really enjoyed the concert, which was very good. The had chosen beautiful songs of love, peace, hope and freedom, which are the values of Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada. Moreover, this event got us a lot of visibility in the media and among the concertgoers.” Ghislaine hopes that this new venture can be repeated in the future “with choirs, dance groups, musicians and others.”
For Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada, this concert was a great initiative, the latest in a long line of activities that hard-working members across the country are so good at organizing to support our international solidarity work. Beyond the money they raise, which is always useful, such activities make our organization visible and active throughout Canada. They help attract more supporters and members to the causes we defend―justice for all, peace and, especially, the preferential option for the poor.