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Music and Friends wraps another season of kitchen parties


From the humble beginnings of playing in kitchens a decade ago, to filling the Bishop White School in Port Rexton last Wednesday, it’s been quite a journey for the Music and Friends group. 

Emcee and organizer of the Music and Friends concert series plays a bodhran at the Clarenvile Retirement Centre.

By getting together every Wednesday of the summer to play music, the group has managed to raise about $12,000 this year for the Clarenville Autism Society, Bonavista Dialysis unit and Ronald McDonald house.

The Music and Friends performers pay to play, each chipping in $5, and between audience and guest performers they raise close to $2,000 a week.

Each concert features roughly 20 musicians squeezed into a three-hour time slot with an intermission for food and coffee. The dedicated Music and Friends regulars back up each performer.

The proceeds are given to a number of different charities each year. Organizer Maureen Howard said the autism society was chosen this year for a number of reasons.

“We have an autistic child here in the village of Port Rexton, good friends who have been playing with us since Day 1. Max and Joan Squires have an autistic grandson and we also have friends in St. John’s who have three autistic grandchildren,” Howard told The Packet.

They decided to specifically contribute to the Clarenville Autism Society chapter in order to keep things local.

“There is a swim program they do and I don’t think they would have been able to do it without some support from the outside world. It’s a program for the fall of the year, with 17 children before Christmas and 17 after I believe. It’s a cost of close to $2,000 for the program,” Howard said.

She said the group aimed to raise enough money to cover the fall and spring program and achieved the goal.

“You would be amazed at the applause that I get each night when I read the total of the money that came in thanks to the people in the audience,” she said.

This year the group gave $4,000 to the Clarenville Chapter of the Autism Society, $4,000 to the Dialysis program in Bonavista and $1,000 to the Ronald McDonald House in St. John’s. It also gave $2,000 to the Port Rexton School to be given to the male and female graduates with the highest marks.

The group also takes a few members and heads out to the Clarenville Retirement Centre each year.

“They just seem to enjoy it so much. It’s a nice thing to do and it gives us great pleasure to play. We’re seniors entertaining seniors is exactly what we are. We all hope God willing that we are old enough to enjoy our later years. If we can give them some enjoyment then we should,” Howard said.

“I dance with a gentlemen in a wheelchair every year. I take his hand and we go around in a half circle. He loves it; he was sitting at the door last year waiting for me to come in. I saw him and said ‘Are we going to dance today?’ and he said ‘Oh my dear you remembered.’ Of course I did.”

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