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Concert Choir sings for Boston's homeless

By Martha Gray
On December 2, 2010

The Simmons College Concert Choir, directed by Danica Buckley, will perform their winter concert, Sing for Joy, on Friday, Dec. 3. The concert will include holiday music, classical pieces, Broadway, and Simmons songs, as well as a piano solo by accompanist Rasa Vitkauskaite. Admission to this event, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Alumnae Hall on the Residence Campus, is a donation to Rosie's Place, a local women's homeless shelter.

Donations include clean, in-season women's clothing, particularly nightgowns, slippers, new underwear, bras, and socks; new regular and travel size toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes; non-perishable food items, particularly canned vegetables and fruits, cereal, peanut butter, pasta, non-refrigerated juices and rice; bath towels and wash cloths; coffee mugs; children's books; and playing cards.

The day after the concert, the members of the concert choir will bring the collected items to the shelter, where they will perform a second concert on site.

Charlotte Badler, a senior nursing major, has been a member of the choir for the past four years and has taken charge in organizing with Rosie's Place, according to Buckley.

"We decided on Rosie's Place because they are a reputable organization that makes a real difference in women's lives," said Badler. "Poverty and homelessness have been on my mind this semester because I'm doing my community health nursing clinical at a medical clinic for the homeless."

Rosie's Place, located in Boston's South End, was founded in 1974. They "provide a safe and nurturing environment for poor and homeless women to maintain their dignity, seek opportunity and find security in their lives," according to their mission statement. According to the Rosie's Place website, this non-profit organization provides shelter to more than 600 women annually, as well as serving nearly 74,000 nutritionally-balanced meals.

"I have a strong conviction that choral music exists to educate and entertain the singers and the audience, but I also want to be able to use the art to do good in the community," said Buckley, who has been director of the concert choir since 2006. "The students have a very giving spirit as well, and as this is a women's organization, it is all the more perfect for our outreach."

Buckley said that the concert choir has had a long tradition at the College, with roots as early as 1902. In addition, she has found that teaching songs from the Simmons song book of 1935 has been the "perfect way to build community, for the choir and the rest of the community."

"Even though they are 'old-fashioned,' students love them when they hear them, asking for some to be sung at various gatherings. 'S-I-M-M-O-N-S' is a favorite!"

Badler emphasized that the choir is non-audition. "We want to sing with anyone who can carry a tune," she said. "I love that we can all come together to learn new music and learn about how to make music."

"We are a pretty tight-knit bunch," said first-year Khaladie Darcy, who joined the concert choir immediately upon her arrival at Simmons this fall. "The group is friendly and supportive. It's a great atmosphere."

The group will be performing more than a dozen songs the evening of the performance on campus, and Darcy said she is most looking forward to "Rhythm of Life" and "The Bells."

Buckley hopes to end the concert in a circle with the residents singing "Sisters Now Our Meeting is Over." "It is a very moving round about women coming together in safety and sisterhood. I think we all might be crying, but sometimes that is a good thing.

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