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Pianist Michael Allen Harrison to perform benefit show for Zarephath Ministries Saturday, May 5

PHOTO COURTESY OF ZAREPHATH MINISTRIES - Michael Allen Harrison, a renowned Portland area pianist, will take the stage in Gresham in support of Zarephath Ministries.

As volunteers at Zarephath Ministries contemplated what to organize for an indoor fundraiser, they remembered the lovely concerts performed by a longtime Portland area pianist during the holidays.

Renowned in the region as a recording artist and the founder of the Snowman Foundation, Michael Allen Harrison has hosted a popular Christmas program at the Old Church in Portland for many years and most recently in the new Wedding Chapel in Canby. He has also organized and performed with Ten Grands at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland.

Harrison will perform a benefit concert for Zarephath at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at Mountainview Church, 1890 N.E. Cleveland Ave., Gresham. Tickets for the benefit concert cost $15 each or $20 at the door, with all proceeds benefiting Zarephath.

"Michael's music is timeless, enjoyable and fun to listen to," says Julian Spires, a Zarephath volunteer who is helping organize the event.

As a nonprofit organization that provides meals and food for those in need in East Multnomah County, Zarephath has supported the community with an all-volunteer staff for more than 30 years. The kitchen feeds more than 100 people per day, six days a week, while the food pantry helps families and individuals with basic food needs.

PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN AND DIANNE ETTER - Kathy Horne, center, assists with shopping in the Zarephath food pantry.

During his time with Zarephath, Spires says volunteers have experienced touching moments, such as witnessing a woman the organization had served returning with a $100 check and saying, "You've helped me so much — now I want to participate and be involved."

Spires and other volunteers have also been humbled by the life stories they've heard from Zarephath clients. Last fall, a woman shared that she was living in a tent with her two daughters while they were all attending Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.

"The staff at Zarephath would strongly encourage people who are interested to come by and have a meal with us," Spires says. "See what we're all about."

Zarephath has a goal of selling more than 500 tickets that would help fund its food costs for the coming year, Spires says. The organization hopes to make the benefit concert an annual event to complement its summer Bite of East County fundraiser, which showcases local restaurants and vendors.

Tickets for the concert may be secured online at www.goo.gl/wEgMKQ, by calling St. Henry Catholic Church at 503-664-9129 or by picking them up during business hours at the St. Henry office, 346 N.W. First St., Gresham.

Blocks of tickets may be purchased up to one week before the concert, and bottled water and cookies will be available for purchase during the show.

"We want attendees to listen to this beautiful music and consider supporting Zarephath," Spires says. "Join us."

PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN AND DIANNE ETTER - Volunteer Jan Freiley assists a Zarephath client.

Zarephath Ministries at a glance, in 2017:

- Volunteers contributed more than 10,000 hours

- The kitchen served 46,789 meals

- The pantry provided food for 15,220 individuals

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