An organization that has served the Fredericksburg area for the past 25-plus years is about to host its very first "Concert of Hope." It promises to be a unique and memorable spectacle that will benefit Loisann's Hope House.
Three world-class performers - "Dukes of Hazzard" star Tom Wopat, celebrated recording artist Deborah Silver and Broadway veteran Carol Woods - will converge on the 'Burg on May 2 at James Monroe High School Auditorium for the show, which will feature a healthy mix of blues, jazz, country and Broadway numbers.
"We were the first shelter of our kind in our community, and we've been here for 26 years," said Lisa Crittenden, executive director of Loisann's Hope House. "With this event, we're hoping to raise more funding than ever before, so we can keep moving homelessness to hope."
Hope House-as many local residents know it-officially became Loisann's Hope House in September 2014. It is named in honor of Loisann Silver Chacon, a Fredericksburg native, compassionate social worker and sister of developer Larry Silver.
Larry Silver pledged to pay off Hope House's mortgage after his sister died in 2011. The Lafayette Boulevard location has housed hundreds of women and children over the years, providing them with the resources they need to transition to independent living. The shelter can house up to 17 mothers and 46 children at a time.
"Last year alone, we had more than 70 children come through our doors," said Crittenden. "We know how important it is to get people off the street and into housing. We want to increase the number of families that our housing can support."
Support doesn't just mean housing women and children at the shelter. Loisann's Hope House has become more involved in providing a viable future for the people they help.
We have shifted our efforts from taking families in for longer periods of time to serving more people over shorter periods of time," said Anna Billingsley, a longtime board member of Loisann's Hope House. "It's better in the long run to help our families transition quickly to their very own homes."
That sort of community support takes money. Organizers of the "Concert of Hope" have set a fundraising goal of $250,000. Thanks to commitments from local individuals and corporations, nearly $200,000 has already been raised.
The diverse lineup for the event was somewhat of a donation in itself, organized and secured by performer Deborah Silver.
"Debbie is the wife of Larry Silver. She came to us and said, 'I want to do a concert for you all," said Billingsley. "She is a big-time cabaret star. We didn't realize, at first, that we had such a star working with us. And now she is bringing all of her friends!"
With the lineup set, the next step is for folks to experience the magic firsthand.
"It's definitely going to be a Cabaret-style event with all kinds of glitter and gold," said Crittenden. "To our knowledge, there hasn't been quite a combination like this to hit a local stage. All three performers will have their own performance and then come together you'll just have to see it for yourself."