Valentine's Day concert to benefit Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter
by Marie Nesmith
Jan 28, 2011 | 3679 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jessica Mitcham, executive director of the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, hangs her last poster publicizing “Celebrate with Your Valentine at The Grand,” which is scheduled for Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. to benefit the shelter.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Jessica Mitcham, executive director of the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, hangs her last poster publicizing “Celebrate with Your Valentine at The Grand,” which is scheduled for Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. to benefit the shelter. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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To help the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter keep providing a refuge for those in need, the Cartersville nonprofit invites the community to "Celebrate with Your Valentine at The Grand" Feb. 14.

Presented by Cartersville Medical Center, the 7 p.m. concert features the melodies of the Etowah Jazz Society's band. For some of their numbers, the musicians will be accompanied by dancers from Steps of Faith or vocalists Marjie Meder, Sarah Harbin and Rodney Banks.

"[The Etowah Jazz Society is] giving their performance for free to benefit the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter," said Jessica Mitcham, the Good Neighbor's executive director. "That's a huge blessing to us. The tickets are going to be $18 each and ... $15 of the cost of the ticket entirely goes to the shelter, which is amazing for a special event. For us, to be able to get that much off a ticket price is great.

"About four-fifths of our budget is money raised locally. We raise about $180,000 a year locally through special events and individuals, businesses and churches that give. So [it is] hard work raising this money to make sure the shelter continues to be available to the community, and that we're open to men and women and children in this community that are homeless and need somewhere to go while they try to get back on their feet. So it's important work [and] we're happy to get as many tickets sold as possible."

Since forming in 1996, the nonprofit has served more than 4,100 people. On average, the 4,600-square-foot facility that was built in 2001 assists nearly 345 individuals per year, of whom at least 52 percent are children. While they are housed, Good Neighbor's guests are required to find a job within four weeks, and the shelter's staff helps them establish savings, focus on problem-solving skills and chart out future housing options.

"[Our day supervisor] has already had several phone calls this morning for people looking for shelter, and we've had to let them know that we're full and they're welcome to contact us back," Mitcham said. "She's giving them information about other shelters around the state that might be able to meet their needs. During the winter, especially when it's this cold, we're full to capacity. We currently have 19 adults and four children, all under the age of 10, at the shelter right now.

"The vast majority of them show up to the shelter out of work," she said, describing the circumstances that brought many individuals to the shelter. "Now, some of them are working now that they've been at the shelter for a while and they are able to stay here for some more weeks [to] save some money. But most of them have lost their job or lost multiple jobs [or] just continue to turn over jobs because the economy is hard. Even when they find work, it doesn't last very long."

Formed in 2002, the Etowah Jazz Society consists of about 28 area musicians. In addition to lending their talents for benefits such as this one, the nonprofit also generates funds for scholarships and to provide financial assistance to the music programs at every high school in Bartow County.

"Bob Frink, who plays with us, is real active with the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter," said Saunders Jones, a founding member of the Etowah Jazz Society, who will be playing saxophone at the Feb. 14 benefit. "We were going to do a concert anyway on Valentine's Day ... So Bob Frink said, 'As long as we're doing a concert is there any way that we can hook this up with the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter.' Because we're a 501c3, we're a charitable organization [so] that's part of what we do -- [participating in] benefit charities. So I said, 'Sure, fine.' So we just got to talking with them and that's how this transpired."

Tickets for the Valentine's Day concert are $18 per person and can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 770-386-7343 or visiting The Grand Theatre ticket office, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville, Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 5 p.m.