An eclectic mix of musicians, local and regional, will fill the stage of the Bill Heard Theater on Friday to raise money for a community daycare.
The Second Annual Elegant Evening of Gospel Benefit Concert will benefit the Fourth Street Daycare Center on Eighth Street. The following groups and individuals are on the program: The Wardlaw Brothers; the Rev. J.H. Flakes Jr., pastor of Fourth Street Baptist Church; the Fourth Street and Good Hope Baptist choirs; the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Choir; the Raspberry Singers; Brothers Together; and Fred and Laurel Blackwell.
Co-emcees are Dee Armstrong, a former anchor with WTVM-TV, and former Mayor Bob Poydasheff.
The inaugural event in 2009 raised about $80,000.
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“Our goal for the benefit concert is not only to create more awareness that this wonderful facility exists in the community, but we also want to raise funds in order to continue the mission of offering a quality, yet affordable childcare to parents in the area,” said Mechell Clark, director of the church’s publicity ministry.
“Given the current economy where so many people are struggling to afford essentials like child care, we want to make sure that more families in the Chattahoochee and surrounding area have access to a day care they can afford and feel comfortable with leaving their children.”
‘Center of Distinction’
Daycare staff use the “A Beka” curriculum — a popular Christian school curriculum — and thus the center’s designed as “more than warehousing or babysitting children,” Clark said.
Founded in 1992, the nonprofit center is for ages six weeks through age 12. Though envisioned and founded by Flakes of Fourth Street, the daycare operates separately from the church. The daycare is a “Center of Distinction” in Georgia, by Bright from the Start program through the Department of Early Care and Learning. The award is given to day care facilities providing the highest quality of care to infants to children up to 4 years.
Robena Flakes, the pastor’s wife, was its first director. The current one is Myra Lockhart.
The theme of the center is “Developing Life’s Foundation From an Acorn to an Oak Tree.”
“The one thing that I would like families to know about our center is that Fourth Street Baptist Church has always been a leader in the crusade for change and mission from beyond the church walls,” Lockhart said in a 2007 church newsletter feature about the center. “The Word commissions us to go out and take care of the little children, and we take it seriously.”
The Wardlaw Brothers: From Vidalia, Ga., the five brothers are also known as “TWB” or the “Boys II Men of Gospel”
The St. Thomas Episcopal Church Choir: Under the direction of Rick McKnight, the group was “choir-in-residence” last summer at Wells Cathedral in England, where they also sang at Gloucester Cathedral
The Raspberry Singers: A local group, they sing traditional gospel
Fred and Laurel Blackwell: Husband and wife duo who sing regularly for Cursillo and Emmaus retreats. Laurel Blackwell is the president of Chattahoochee Valley Community College.
Brothers Together: Based in Clayton, Ala., they’ve sung at the House of Blues in Tennessee. Influences include the Canton Spirituals and the Mighty Clouds of Joy.
Allison Kennedy, 706-576-6237