by Kate Evans
The Morgan County Homeless Coalition and the Morgan County Clergy Association are sponsoring a Mountains of Bluegrass and Praise event on Saturday, October 1 from 1-5 p.m. at Coolfont Resort at the pavilion. The event is free.
The Homeless Coalition, which provides services in Morgan County and the Hancock area, will accept offerings to help cover their costs for the concert and finish construction of their nine-room homeless shelter, the Morgan County Hope House.
The idea behind the event is to bring individuals and families together for an afternoon of music and to give back to the community, its generosity, and its support, said Terri Bliziotes. Morgan County Homeless Coalition development coordinator who organized the event.
Bliziotes said it’s been a crazy couple of years since COVID emerged. The community has had a lot of losses but “we have much to be grateful for.”
Musical performers are Liberty University Bluegrass Ensemble, Stage Left Ministries, and Anissa Stewart, a powerful singer and celebrated praise leader.
Stage Left Ministries is a local praise and worship band. They perform a diverse variety of musical genres including bluegrass gospel, contemporary Christian and traditional hymns with instrumentation and vocal harmonies.
The Liberty University Bluegrass Ensemble is a six to eight-member group that travels nationally to sing, play, and spread the gospel. The ensemble blends traditional bluegrass, modern folk and more and features three-part harmony.
Anissa Stewart is a gospel recording artist, actress, songwriter, evangelist, praise and worship leader and teacher from Columbia, Maryland. She has two CDs, “Anissa’s 42nd Chapter” and “Restoration,” and three singles available on major digital outlets.
All three performers/bands had donated their time for the concert. The Homeless Coalition is covering their transportation costs.
Organizers are encouraging families to bring pop top canopies and picnic baskets and come play by the lake at Coolfont by the pavilion. There is a playground near the pavilion for children and it’s a beautiful picnic area that is wheelchair accessible, she noted.
“It will be a nice afternoon for all ages,” Bliziotes said. Coolfont and the Morgan County Homeless Coalition will have food and refreshments for sale.
“We want people to have a good time and enjoy the day,” Bliziotes said.
Lots of people were separated from their church and God from COVID. The concert is a way to find their way back to that fellowship, Bliziotes said.
The Hope House shelter
The new year-round homeless shelter is expected to be operational by December 1, said Morgan County Homeless Coalition Pastor Dick Voorhaar
The building renovation is going well and is coming down to the wire. They’re planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony in November.
Voorhaar said they’ve come a long way with the shelter project. The coalition is grateful to the people of Morgan County who have reached out and helped them in so many ways.
The shelter will offer a place for homeless to stay and will make them safe and warm, Bliziotes said. It will also bring them services to get them to the next step to a more sustainable life.
Services and assistance include access to temporary housing, substance abuse and health care services, food, transportation, job applications, helping them to find family to stay with and preparing for the work force.
Sheltering help has been available for three months from December 1 through March 1, but this year they want to be open until the end of March. The group is moving toward a 24-hour, 365 days a year homeless shelter.
Bliziotes said that all Homeless Coalition members are volunteers. All monies they raise beyond paying for postage and some ads go directly toward taking care of individuals who need housing.
The coalition provides shelter to more than 20 families and individuals a year during the cold weather months. The local homeless population is generally older, Bliziotes said.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Mountains of Bluegrass and Praise concert or to the Homeless Coalition shelter construction can mail a check to the Morgan County Homeless Coalition, 47 Union Street, P.O. Box 304, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411 or through the group’s website.