The fires are out, and signs of rebuilding and renewal are all around. Still, the effects of that horrible period in October – fear, uncertainty, anger, an overriding depression – are still being dealt with. Land is cleared and structures rebuilt, but emotionally, a true recovery is an ongoing and sometimes difficult process. The challenge is particularly acute with children and teens.
When Gary Nelson realized the extent of the trauma affecting students and families as a result of the October fires, he wanted to support a fundraiser for the nonprofits supporting them. On March 10, the effort crystallizes with a performance by pianist and PBS notable Richard Glazier, with “Our Love Is Here To Stay: The Music of George and Ira Gershwin,” at the Hanna Boys Center auditorium.
“Music and storytelling are soothing,” Nelson said. “Richard’s personal story is inspiring to young kids. I thought if we could offer that, and raise a little money for the local groups helping our kids, then the event would be a win-win.”
The beneficiaries are nonprofits providing trauma recovery and resiliency projects for children: the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance; the Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley; Hanna Institute; and Sonoma Charter School.
“Our community has been hard hit by the wildfires, and has endured physical and emotional devastation and trauma previously unknown in this area,” said Lee Morgan Brown, executive director of Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance. “We want to expand the support our youth-centered community organizations provide in the face of this tragedy.
The event has the potential to generate $200,000 for the effort. “Gary and I have offered a $25,000 matching grant to each nonprofit,” Marcia Nelson said. “It is not a handout, but a hand up, a way for us all to work together.”
Glazier will present three performances, weaving historical video footage, piano performance and personal commentary, to highlight the history of the music written by the Gershwin brothers for Broadway musicals, Hollywood films and television.
Glazier has performed before in the Sonoma Valley and said he’s excited to return, particularly for such a worthy cause. “What a wonderful opportunity to help the wildfire survivors put their worries aside, celebrate this community’s resiliency, and enjoy some great music at the same time.”
The first performance will be a 45-minute concert free to families, kids, mentees and mentors. It will start at 1 p.m. with post-concert snacks at 1:45 p.m. That will be followed by performances for adults, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The evening concerts are $75 general, and $125 with a VIP champagne reception.
“Richard is a phenomenal pianist, and is well loved in Sonoma,” Brown said. “We are excited to bring him back as part of our healing process.”
Tickets and additional details about the event are available at Gershwinforgood.com.