Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Family Christmas Music Festival benefits Arlington Life Shelter

The upcoming benefit show presented by the Arlington Goodtimes Chorus is Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1200 W. Green Oaks Blvd. in Arlington.
The upcoming benefit show presented by the Arlington Goodtimes Chorus is Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1200 W. Green Oaks Blvd. in Arlington. Courtesy

There’s nothing like the sound of beautiful voices in perfect harmony, and especially when they combine to sing all your favorite holiday songs. That’s exactly what will happen at the upcoming benefit show presented by the Arlington Goodtimes Chorus on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1200 W. Green Oaks Blvd. in Arlington.

The chorus has generously offered to do the show as a benefit performance for the Arlington Life Shelter and has titled the show, “A Family Christmas Music Festival.” Admission will be free, and attendees will have the opportunity to make a donation to the Life Shelter to help homeless families.

“We are delighted that the Goodtime Chorus has chosen to generously donate their time to do a benefit Christmas show to help the families served by the Arlington Life Shelter,” said Jim Reeder, Director of Community Development for the shelter. “We are beginning an expansion project that will allow for a 40% increase in beds for families, women, and children and an expanded kitchen and dining area."

"The Life Shelter project will also provide enhanced space and programming for children, a classroom and a computer lab for employment training, and space for residents to remain in the shelter when not at work. The overall impact of the project will be to help our homeless residents return to self-sufficiency more quickly and with more skills,” he added. "Donations from the holiday show will help achieve these plans."

The Family Christmas Music Festival will feature performances by various groups from local a cappella choruses, barbershop quartets and church ensembles. Plus, the audience will enjoy a sing-along to traditional Christmas carols that capture the true spirit of the season.

“We think the Life Shelter is especially important to homeless individuals and families at this time of year,” said Goodtimes Chorus spokesman Gil Carrick, and we want to help with their work on expansion of their space to serve the community.”

“We’re bringing together several choruses and quartets for the audience to enjoy and to sing along with,” he added.

Check out the Goodtime Chorus at www. goodtimeschorus.org/. For any questions about the Arlington Life Shelter call 817-548-9885, ext. 3315, or visit www.ArlingtonLifeShelter.org.

Celebrity Chefs event will satisfy big appetites as attendees rally to end domestic violence

At the upcoming Celebrity Chefs event on Jan. 21, Tracy Rector of Colleyville will bravely share her story about her experiences with intimate partner abuse because she believes it will help others see the urgency in supporting SafeHaven of Tarrant County as they work to eradicate domestic violence.

The long-standing foodie event is hosted by Mid-Cities Supporters of SafeHaven to raise money to benefit victims like Tracy and her children. One in three women in Tarrant County is a victim of domestic violence, and reportedly there were 16 deaths in Tarrant County last year resulting from intimate partner violence.

Guests at the Celebrity Chefs event will undoubtedly be moved by Tracy’s story and before the night is over, many may realize for the first time the value of the prevention programs that SafeHaven provides. Tracy will speak of the prevention programs in Nairobi, Kenya where 1 in 4 women were victim of rape, but education has reduced this by 50 percent. She will talk about the evidence-based connection between domestic abuse and sexual harassment and the connection between domestic abuse and mass shootings.

Veterans of the popular Celebrity Chefs event know that some of the longtime participating chefs have loved ones or friends who have experienced domestic violence and this experience motivates them to continue their involvement in the event.

The evening is always a festive one as 17 chefs from the area’s top eateries serve up delicacies from the signature dishes on their menus. Organizers have chosen “Eat. Drink. Give” as the theme for evening that begins with a cocktail and appetizer reception featuring the smooth jazz stylings of Liz Mikel, star of stage, screen and TV.

Mary MacDowell from Mid-Cities SOS is co-chairing the event with Anna Saunders and said that such dishes as the buttered lobster mashed potatoes, candied lamb lollypops, and Napa and Sonoma Valley wines will make guests realize that “giving never tasted so good.”

“We want guests to sip, taste and mingle while bidding on luxury trip travel packages at our big board [auction] or try their hand at our Casino Royale table to win high-end wines,” McDowell said.

Partygoers can purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win a $1,500 gift card to Market Street, a “Need for Speed” ride in a 430 Ferrari, airline tickets, golf and dining outings and mystery restaurant gift cards.

It’s a fun free-for-all atmosphere at the party as guests circulate among 17 tasting stations to be served all-you-can-eat selections from each of the celebrity chefs. After everyone is sufficiently stuffed, the generous chefs present themselves on stage where the bidding for their gourmet dinner packages are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

And while everyone there will delight in the mouthwatering foodie experience while they socialize with others, more than their appetites will be satisfied as they realize they are helping SafeHaven continue their mission to end domestic violence and to serve other women and children like Tracy and her children.

Tracy’s poignant story will wind its way to the present with a message of hope to where she is now happily married for the past three years. But even now she lives with frightening reminders of her past experiences. If her husband accidentally leaves a door unlocked, she is terrified momentarily when she returns home alone to discover it. It’s a painful reminder of the stalking experiences she endured when she left her first marriage.

Her abuser would cruise the street back and forth in front of her home and phone or email her relentlessly with threats saying that she was the one ruining their family and destroying the children by disobeying God. He even left packages inside her living room to show that he could get inside if he wanted to and attempt to demonstrate that he had power over her. By saving the evidence of his threats, she was able to obtain a restraining order while she was waiting on their divorce to finalize.

She will illustrate the value of the education programs that SafeHaven has developed for high school students. “I could have benefited greatly from the prevention education when I was younger. I would have been better informed to recognize the signs of abuse in our dating relationship.”

I hope Tracy will read to the audience a poem that her daughter wrote for a college writing assignment entitled “Breaking Free.” It is simultaneously a heartbreaking example of how domestic abuse destroys a family and damages those involved as well as an expression of hope and healing.

The fundraising evening of culinary magic will feature Chefs Jon Bonnell (Bonnell’s & Waters), Susan Clark (Sweet Memories Cakes & Catering), Todd Phillips (J.R.’s Steak & Grill), Donatella Trotti (Nonna Tata), Jason Harper (Trio New American Café), Siegfried Schafner (Hurst Conference Center), and Deb Cantrell (Savor Culinary Services).

More mouthwatering food will be served up by chefs Andrew Huszar (Tastefully Yours Catering), Jermaine Brown (Great Scott Restaurant), Luciano Salvadore (Il Calabrese), Bill Trevino (Craft & Vine), Charles Youts (The Classic at Roanoke), Ying Aikens (Next Bistro), Isaac Walker (R Bar & Grill), Michele Ragazzini (Loveria Taste of Italy), Jordan Ray (Trophy Club Country Club) and doughnut artist Rod Moruss (Peace, Love & Little Donuts).

“It’s going to an upscale supper club feel,” said MacDowell. “Our guests are in for huge treat during the reception where Liz Mikel, a star of ‘Friday Night Lights’ who has also appeared with Ben Stiller and Martin Lawrence, will perform.”

MacDowell added, “We also will focus on the rise of domestic violence in Tarrant County. Instead of 1 in 4, we are now at 1 in 3 women. This has got to stop. As a community, we must stand united and scream out, ‘Enough!’ 

Tickets to Celebrity Chefs are $125 each (and would make a good Christmas gift). The venue is the lovely Hurst Conference Center ballroom. Purchase tickets at www.mid-citiessos.org/celebritychefs/ or email CCTickets@mid-citiessos.org.

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