Lyric Opera Stage Artists have been serving in our community for years as individuals. I used to deliver meals for Meals on Wheels in Skokie. Jeff Taylor has been serving regularly with his family at the Homeless Ministry through his church. Many others have quietly served people in their communities, helped with food packs at their own churches, neighborhood Food Pantries or organizations like Feed My Starving Children and Greater Chicago Food Depository. However, we began to realize that we could have a much greater impact as a group serving together. So a year or so ago, we began to discuss forming a committee of people who could seek out service opportunities, organize and communicate those opportunities and invite the whole group to join together in service. That way, folks who have been serving already could share that experience with others and those who always wanted to do service projects, but didn’t really know how to go about it, now have a resource to connect to these events.
We officially formed a committee last season when we saw some needs that we as a group felt like we could meet. One of our very first group projects was a food drive for the Meals Ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church. http://www.fourthchurch.org/chicagolights/social-service.html They collect snacks to pack in lunches that they give to people in food crisis. We collected a car load of pre-packaged snacks just from our own colleagues at Lyric Opera and it was one of the largest donations they had received to date!
This was followed by an afternoon of partnership with Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/ A great day together and so much accomplished!! 11,846 meals were packed in that day!
Then in May, we served at the Grace Place Homeless Ministry through the Chicago Temple. http://chicagotemple.org/programs/homelessministry/ We packed lunches, prepared and served breakfast to hundreds of hungry people.
From there, we have had opportunity after opportunity to find places to serve! In June, we began singing in Senior Living facilities when Jeff Taylor invited us to sing at his mom’s memory care facility, Hartwell Place, https://www.cmsschicago.org/what-we-do/memory-care/memory-care-assisted-living-community/ one of the facilities run by CMSS (Chicago Methodist Senior Services). https://www.cmsschicago.org/ They loved it so much they asked if we would sing for their other homes, Covenant Home and Wesley Place. We decided to partner with them to bring 2 concerts a year to each of their facilities! Then, we were hooked! We have found such joy in connecting with the folks in each of these places that we can’t wait to go back!
Later in June we took part in Make Music Chicago Day. http://makemusicchicago.org/ It was our first large scale performance with a group of about 30 singers joining us to sing in Jackson Park. Also, an afternoon performance in July at Gilda’s Club was a huge success as we performed for an all age audience of people affected by cancer. https://www.gildasclubchicago.org/ And another free community concert was given by The Ladies of LOSA at Carter-Westminster United Presbyterian Church in Skokie at the very end of July to the audience’s delight! http://www.cwupc.org/
August has been our busiest month so far! With concerts at the other 2 CMSS senior living facilities and joining up with the AARP Summer of Service to Seniors Food Pack to kick off the month! http://www.cvent.com/events/2018-summer-of-service-meal-pack-challenge-chicago-/event-summary-50cb9d0f9abc4e01adb7e8ba18f9789f.aspx We were also happy to have the opportunity to collaborate with our friend, Bill Cernota, cellist from the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra. He joined us for 2 of our concerts in August, one at Covenant Home in Chicago https://www.cmsschicago.org/what-we-do/assisted-living/ and one at The Merion in Evanston https://www.merionevanston.com/ and it was a great pleasure to serve with him!
Finally, we end our summer with performances at Chesterton’s European Market, http://www.chestertonseuropeanmarket.com/ making opera accessible to our neighbors all around the Chicagoland area! It has been a full and rewarding few months and we are delighted to look ahead to returning to CMSS senior living and The Merion to bring another concert to folks there and continue to build relationships. As we move forward, we can’t wait to see what other ways we can serve our communities!