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Haiti relief concert offers spiritual beats to promote donations

Eight months after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused mass destruction in Haiti, there is still suffering. The UNF Intercultural Center for PEACE and Hope for Haiti, a UNF organization with a mission to collect school supplies for underprivileged children, plan to help by offering some wholesome tunes.

Kamele “Oupa” Seane, director of Intercultural Center for PEACE and adviser of Hope for Haiti, said he got the idea for the Haiti Relief Concert after he heard Joanna Norris singing on her solo CD, “Walkin’ on Water.”

Norris, assistant director of UNF Media Relations, is a Christian music singer/songwriter. Christian band Seven-14 will join her on stage at the concert. Norris used to be a member of Seven-14 until she went solo.

Norris and Seven-14 will perform original songs and covers of popular Christian recording artists.
Seane said he is grateful to Norris and Seven-14 for their participation.

Norris is, too. After the earthquake, she wanted to do a Haiti relief concert in Jacksonville but didn’t know of any venues that would support it, and she didn’t have the funds on her own to rent out a facility. So when Seane contacted her, she was thrilled, she said.

So far, Hope for Haiti has collected a little over $2,000. Donations from the concert will be combined with the already-collected money, and students of Hope for Haiti and Vice President of UNF Student Affairs Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez will present the sum to the Red Cross.

Before the earthquake, Norris served on two mission trips to Haiti with her church, San Jose Baptist. While there, she worked at an orphanage, the Cabaret Baptist Children’s Home, in Bercy, Haiti, which Jacksonville Baptist Association operates.

At the concert, Norris will be selling her solo CD for $10, with all proceeds going directly to the orphanage.

“I have a heart and passion for the people of Haiti,” Norris said. “When I heard about [the earthquake], of course, the first thing I thought is, are all the kids safe? The orphanage hasn’t collapsed, and there’s also a school across the street that they operate and also a church.”

Norris was relieved to hear the buildings sustained minimal damage, and she said it was a blessing all the kids were safe.

But relief efforts won’t stop at the last note of the concert.

Matt Pelowski, drummer of Seven-14 and a UNF computer science freshman, said the band wants to participate in other charitable concerts in the community in the future.

“I hope the concert will bring in enough people to donate,” Pelowski said. “And maybe willing to go there and help and clean and get people back on their feet.”

Seane also wants to continue to do whatever he can to help Haiti, he said. “Haiti has a long way to rebuilding,” Seane said. “It’s going to take a long, long, long time, and we want to be a part of the process.”

The Haiti Relief Concert takes place Sept. 25 in the Robinson Theater at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free with an e-ticket, but attendees are asked to bring donations, all of which will go to Haiti. Items such as clothing and dry goods are welcome, but Seane said monetary donations are preferable. To reserve free e-tickets for the concert, visit capricorn.anf.unf.edu/ticketing/norris.asp.

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