Local artists will soon come together to raise funds to tackle a persistent issue in the Fredericksburg region.
Singers, dancers and actors will perform for The Dance Matrix & Company’s “Breaking Barriers” production, which is aimed at raising money for children and their families working to find homes. Net proceeds will go to Hope House, a Fredericksburg-based charity with a mission to quickly move children and their families from homelessness to housing.
Supported by the Fredericksburg Arts Commission, “Breaking Barriers” will feature local performing artists including those from Dance Matrix & Company, poet Micki O’Hearn, vocalist Michelle Ditzler, Krash Dance Company, Alex Harvell, actor Rachel Sergeant and the Sacred Dance Ensemble of Fredericksburg.
Lisa Crittenden, the executive director of Hope House, said the proceeds will make a significant impact in what has already become a busy year. The shelter recently expanded to accommodate more families.
“What it means is that we are able to actually support families coming out of the cold weather and coming into the shelter and moving into their own homes,” she said.
According to reports, the homeless population remained about the same between 2012 and 2016, all while the planning district encompassing the Fredericksburg region grew by about 25,000 people.
Government and nonprofit agencies who annually gather that data have been working to bring the number of homeless down by finding permanent, supportive housing for such families. Research shows that such a goal, which is shared by Hope House, to be effective. A report issued in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that families enrolled in a rapid re-housing program exited a shelter in an average of two months, three months faster than those who did not enroll. In addition, 77 percent of families who enrolled in rapid re-housing did not return to a shelter. Permanent supportive housing has a long-term retention rate of 98 percent.
Crittenden said Hope House is the community’s first and largest family homeless shelter that places families from homelessness into housing. It also runs a prevention program.
“We chose Hope House because we felt they helped people not only by giving, but also by teaching. It not only gives people a home but also teaches them how to survive in this world, manage money and stay in their homes,” said Beverly Mendez, the artistic director of Dance Matrix & Company.
The performers have weaved the theme of helping the homeless, struggling and surviving through adversity into each of their acts. The signature performance from the dance company is called “Home,” and its three sections explore the myriad reasons people become homeless, the stages of grief people experience as they process past events and how they then move forward.
For her performance, vocalist Michelle Ditzler chose songs that talk about self-doubt, gender-bending confidence-boosting and not settling.
“This such a great opportunity, and Hope House is such a great charity. It feels like I’m giving back instead of getting,” Ditzler said.
Ticket are priced $25. But if audience members donate needed materials, they can be eligible for discounts. More information on needed materials, discounted tickets and group rates is available at dancematrixcompany.com. A dessert reception will follow the performance.