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Coming Events

Hope for Haiti Benefit Concert

Jan Phillips, Tom Chapin, Pete Seeger, and Michael Marks as they begin the concert with the crowd-rousing Clearwater Revival classic "Midnight Special."

In January, the Dominican Sisters of Hope hosted a benefit concert to raise funds for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The concert featured well-known folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, an iconic figure in the mid-20th century American folk music revival. As a song writer, he is best known as the author or co-author of "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?," "If I Had a Hammer," (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!," which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world. Joining him were Tom Chapin, also a local songwriter and folk singer, as well as Jan Phillips, well-known author, photographer, singer and songwriter, and others.

"We can turn the world around if we want to," Pete told the audience as he led them in the hymn, Amazing Grace.

More than 600 people scrambled for a place to sit either in the main chapel of Mariandale Center or in the Evergreen room, in which the concert was video streamed live. By the end of the evening, well over $19,000 had been collected through free-will donations.

Sister Bette Ann Jaster, a member of the leadership team of the Dominican Sisters of Hope and initiator of the benefit concert, is a longtime friend of Pete Seeger. In her words:

“Four days ago, as I drove to work at Mariandale, I heard a woman on the radio speak about the people of Haiti who were struck with tremendous losses, with no place to go, who gathered in the park and sang together to give each other comfort. She went on to say that the radio station would play love songs for Haiti during the morning, ‘because each of us can do something.’ During the day I was haunted by thoughts about what to do for Haiti. What can we do now, quickly? The idea of a concert came to mind.

“Knowing Pete Seeger, who lives just up the river from Mariandale, and knowing his passion and leadership through music and a lifetime commitment to justice, and having known him through the annual Shad Fest, Strawberry Fest, and rides on the Clearwater with poor people from Newburgh, as well as the Washington DC Ribbon Project many years ago, I decided to give him a call. His passion brought him to say 'Yes,' and the benefit concert, Hope for Haiti, was born.”

Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center is a sponsored ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Hope.

Links to photos and video of the concert:

See a panoramic image of the concert in the Mariandale chapel

See photos of the concert on the Dominican Sisters of Hope web site (click on "News Clips & Pics" on the home page)

Watch a video of the concert on YouTube