Community outreach organizations such as Talladega’s Samaritan House provide for the less fortunate, but they’re often on budgets stretched as thin as those of the people they serve.
“The demand just keeps going up,” said Charles Montgomery, president of Samaritan House, which offers free groceries, clothing and money for doctor visits and power bills. Samaritan House served a total of 282 families in July — a record for the organization, which previously peaked at 190 families in a month in October 2013. More than 40 of the families served were new to the program.
“It’s becoming more demanding on our resources,” Montgomery added, “and I don’t know if it will improve.”
Members of the community can help outreach efforts and see an uplifting show in the process. On Sunday, Talladega’s Ritz Theatre will host the second annual “An Afternoon of Praise” concert, featuring more than 100 musicians performing works by contemporary Christian artists.
Part of the admission price is the donation of a bag of nonperishable groceries that will go to Samaritan House, with a $10 ticket price supporting The Red Door Kitchen, a Talladega organization that serves meals locally and delivers food to beneficiaries in the area.
“We love music and to get together and sing,” said Valorie Cooper, a representative for An Afternoon of Praise, “but if people are really in a rough spot, these organizations help people, and that’s why we’re contributing.”
The show pulls material from “My Hope,” an album of music inspired by the messages of evangelist Billy Graham. Songs by artists like tobyMac, Amy Grant and The Newsboys are reinterpreted for the massive band, which includes guitars, piano, woodwinds, brass, strings and choir. Composer and Dove Award nominee Richard Kingsmore will direct not only the cover songs, but original compositions, like “Terezin,” a haunting piano and violin duet that premiered at last year’s event.
The message of Christ runs deep for the performers, including retired band director and French horn player Kara Swindell, who also performed at last year’s event.
“The music spells it out so beautifully,” said Swindell. “It doesn’t matter where you are or where you’ve been, he’ll put the broken pieces back together; it just grabs you and tells you that you can have that.”
Montgomery of Samaritan House is a performer himself, taking a vocal solo during Michael W. Smith’s “Take Me Home.” He said that the afternoon’s messages can be especially helpful when it comes to serving the needs of the less fortunate.
“It’s a reminder that your hope is found in Jesus,” said Montgomery. “You have that hope no matter how tough times are, no matter what trouble you’re going through.”
Montgomery is quick to point out that, at its core, the show is a good time for a good cause.
“A lot of this music has a catchy beat to it, so if you’re not tapping your foot or moving along, then something’s wrong with you,” he said, laughing.