The Norman Transcript

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November 26, 2012

A simple gift

NORMAN — Church pews filled for Norman Philharmonic concert, fundraiser

The pews at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church were filled Sunday afternoon but it wasn’t for a church service. It was for “A Simple Gift.”

The Norman Philharmonic presented “A Simple Gift” at the church Sunday to help raise awareness and money for Food and Shelter. Their goal was to raise money to provide 500 nights of shelter for homeless families.

Something many people might not have known is that Food and Shelter grew out of McFarlin Memorial years ago, said Andy Paden, president of Norman Philharmonic.

“We are so thankful for so many things in this community,” Paden said. “(Food and Shelter) takes such great care of people in our community who are in a transition phase.”

During a performance of Howard Hanson’s 1945 Serenade for Flute, Harp and Strings, Op. 35, a slideshow was shown on TV screens throughout the church, telling several stories of those who are homeless.

Many of the people featured in the slideshow said Food and Shelter was essential to the community and described it as a “sanctuary” or a place of comfort, a place where they have friends.

Everyone has their own story of how they ended up on the streets, but a common struggle has been trying to transition out of homelessness.

“Once you get in, it is just really hard to get out,” a message in the slideshow said.

Those telling their stories also battled feelings of depression, hopelessness, helplessness or embarrassment.

Rev. Linda Harker, senior pastor of McFarlin Memorial, said it was an honor and privilege to celebrate the opportunity they had Sunday.

“Thank you for your heart and for being part of such a great community,” Harker said.

Paden also gave a special thanks to Denney & Barrett Attorneys at Law, for sponsoring the concert and to The Norman Transcript for raising the community’s awareness about the event. He also thanked April Dozier, executive director of Food and Shelter, for all the work she has done.

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