If Merrimack Valley High School senior Marlee Houston was hoping for written feedback on her senior project proposal, she’ll have to do without. Her teacher opted instead to jump excitedly up and down.
That’s good, right? We never elicited that kind of response from our teachers.
The enthusiasm was generated by Houston’s plan for a benefit concert featuring the Adam Ezra Group to raise money for One Home Many Hopes, an organization fighting extreme poverty in Kenya. She is putting the finishing touches on a show that will be held April 14 at 2 p.m. at Camp Spaulding in Concord. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Many Hopes.
“I think the best part of the project was when I told the teacher that introduced me to (Many Hopes) that I was doing a concert to benefit the organization, she was so excited she was jumping up and down, and she said she was going to contact the organization and let them know.”
Consider yourself contacted now, as well. You’ll never know if we’re jumping up and down (hint: we are!), but you will know everything you need to know about helping Houston make this a successful venture.
She was first struck by the quest of Many Hopes during a child development class, when she and classmates heard a sad tale of a girl roaming the streets of Kenya with her brother in her backpack, their mother having just died of AIDS. The girl was so focused on seeking out food that a little boy on the street had to tell the girl that her brother had died in the backpack.
Touched by the efforts of the group, which seeks to raise “the generation of children who will lead with justice and fairness and defeat the causes of extreme poverty in Kenya,” according to its website, Houston sought a way to pitch in.
And where better to conceive a benefit concert than at a concert? Houston was attending an Adam Ezra Group show when she thought of the idea, knowing the group has been active in communities before, she said. She sent an email to the group but never received a reply, so when she attended another of the band’s concerts, she decided to take matters into her own hands. So she kidnapped all the members and locked them in her basement until they agreed to join the cause.
Actually, she just asked nicely.
“I hadn’t gotten a reply from them, so after the concert I know they like to interact with people. I went up to them and asked and they said they would love to help but they had to get their manager involved and get all the details,” Houston said. “I was really nervous to talk to the band just because I didn’t want them to say no because this is a great organization and I wanted to do something big for them. But once I started talking to them, it was easy.”
Turns out, ironing out all the details wasn’t so easy. Though Houston started planning the project last summer, she had to wait until after Jan. 1 for the band to confirm its availability. Since then she’s been frantically putting the pieces in place, pieces that include organizational details like publicizing and thanking the businesses that have donated assistance and juggling ticket requests.
The fruits of that labor will really be realized when Houston gets to work directly with the band.
“I’m really excited working with the band. Their manager is really helpful with all the tax things I need,” she said. “But I’m really excited for the day that I actually get to work with the group in person.”
It certainly won’t be quite the same as seeing them in concert the last two times. This time Houston won’t be a typical teenage fan – okay, she’ll still be a typical teenage fan, but one with a job to do.
“I don’t know if I’ll be sitting back and enjoying it, but I know for sure I will be running around helping and working while enjoying everything I’ve put together,” Houston said. “I know everyone there will have a great time, because they get to enjoy themselves listening to great music while donating money to a great organization.”
Tickets are $12, or $6 for children under 10. All ticket requests should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and she said she can then either coordinate payment and tickets through mail, or tickets can be set aside and picked up at the door on the day of the show.