Helping Haiti Through Local Music

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead has proven itself as a supportive backdrop for many tried and talented musicians. Taking that into consideration, two upcoming events hope to harness that support and showcase local talent in order to send aid to Haiti.

The first event takes place on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m., with multiple music acts coming together at the Glacier High School Performance Hall for the “Music Night for Haiti” concert, organized by Kalispell resident Pat Freebury.

Freebury is an avid volunteer in two orphanages in Pignon, Haiti, and was traveling between the two when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck on Jan. 12. While she was not at the epicenter in Port-au-Prince, Freebury said her part of the countryside was soon filled with refugees. By the time she left, the orphanages were bursting at their already stretched seams.

“They need lots of help,” Freebury said.

Any money raised at the concert will go directly to the orphanages, Haiti Mercy Mission and Campell’s Hope of Hope, which are run by Americans who are responsible for 100 percent of the administrative costs, Freebury said. Direct funding ensures that all of the money will get there without worry of a middleman taking a percentage off the top, Freebury added.

The show will consist of many local favorites, including Rob Quist, Jack Gladstone, local singers Amanda Caldwell and Carlene Prince, as well as a performance by the Christian quartet Blest.

Quist’s children, Halladay and Guthrie, will also perform as House of Quist. The show will close out with performances from the select choirs from Flathead and Glacier high schools.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for a donation of the guest’s choosing, but Freebury is asking a minimum of $10. She also requested that audience members bring a can of food to help support local food banks.

A second fundraising event, scheduled on Feb. 28 at the Whitefish Central School Auditorium, will combine the music of local favorites with a silent auction. Event organizer Luke Dowler said it would be a fun evening, but also a reminder that Haiti still needs help.

“As we get further away it’s easy to say, ‘I did my 10 bucks to the Red Cross.’ I think we need to remember that Haiti is in a year of rebuilding,” Dowler said.

The idea to raise money within the community came to Dowler during a conversation with his friend Vaden Earle, founder and CEO of Absolute Leadership Development Incorporated and a World Vision consultant who oversees two orphanages in Port-au-Prince.

Earle has been back to Haiti twice since the earthquake, and hearing about the overwhelming struggle that the Haitians are facing daily, Dowler decided to help the best way he could – by pulling together his musician friends and bringing the community together.

The musical line up will include John Dunnigan, Andre Floyd, Rob Quist, Tim Torgerson, The Good Wood Trio and Annette Strean.

The silent auction should have something for everyone, Dowler said, with items ranging from business services to artwork. Some specific items include a pair of John Mayer tickets for a sold-out concert in Seattle and a special project from the Summit Preparatory School art class. The auction begins at 6 p.m.

Earle, also a Canadian author, will fly in from Toronto to emcee the event and discuss his work in Port-au-Prince.

Donations will be accepted and all proceeds will be split between the relief funds set up by Doctors Without Borders and World Vision.

In Freebury’s mind, raising money to help the less fortunate in Haiti makes as much sense as helping out her own family. In fact, she and her husband sponsor two little girls in Pignon, and her son and his family sponsor a little boy. All together, her friends and family in Kalispell sponsor 12 Haitian children. Making sure they survive and have their basic needs fulfilled is just second nature, she said.

“I’ve got three kids to go over there and be grandma to,” Freebury said.

And as a member of the Haiti Help Mission, Freebury has pledged a year of support to help the country.

“We’re just a little operation, but we’re still doing good in the world,” Freebury said.