The benefit will feature the music of Larry Mannasmith and Vanessa Parsons, a presentation by Red Cross volunteer Shoba Brown, a live Skype with Puerto Rico members of the Red Cross and a question and answer session.
A minimum donation of $20 per person is requested with students donating $5 each. Proceeds will be sent directly to the local chapter of the Puerto Rico Red Cross.
The event is in response to Hurricane Maria, which left most of the island without power. Now six months later, the urban areas have power, while the rural and more mountainous parts do not.
Rev. Jonathan Mitchell of the First Presbyterian Church, Maryville, compared it to the 2007 ice storm which knocked out power in the Maryville area for up to a week.
“These folks are just like us and they’ve been without power for six months,” he said. “We’re very globally aware in Maryville and this benefit will help the people of Puerto Rico.”
“I felt like the Lord was leading me to do something,” Carole Funston, who began the project, said. “It was something that was in my heart.”
Funston gives all the credit for the benefit organization to Parsons, Brown, Mitchell and the Presbyterian Church congregation.
“I want to show what I saw with my own eyes,” Brown said about spending three weeks in Puerto Rico over Christmas.
With media outlets no longer following the Puerto Ricon story, people may not realize that there is much left to do. Roads are washed out and it is difficult to get supplies up to people living in the mountainous and rural areas.
A friend that Brown made with the local Red Cross told her, “they’re so appreciative that we care enough to try. It’s not the money as much as that we care.
“The local Red Cross people were victims also, but they jumped in to do everything they could and worked alongside other volunteers,” she explained.
The numbers of outside volunteers have dwindled, leaving just the local Red Cross, which has been giving out solar lights, generators and financial assistance to help people.
“I am happy to have been asked to perform with my dad to benefit the people of Puerto Rico,” Parsons said. “I cannot imagine raising and caring for my children without basic necessities.
“I think it is a wonderful cause with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the people of Puerto Rico,” she continued. “I will be singing some sacred selections and art songs, as well as songs from film and stage.
“My dad, Larry Mannasmith, will accompany me and also play piano selections. I am grateful to be a part of this event.”