Singing brings community together at The Belfry


Last updated 4/23/2024 at 9:54am

Photo by Sue Stafford

Zumba dancers "crashed the party" at a community sing-along event held at The Belfry.

The songs of Elton John, Rod Stewart, and John Lennon filled The Belfry on Saturday night, April 13, as more than 125 singers gathered to be entertained and to participate in Sing Your Heart Out, Sisters, a free event sponsored by Age Friendly Sisters Country (AFSC).

"By bringing the community together at the end of winter, and after COVID, AFSC hoped to help reimagine what Community can look like in person," explained Mike Deal, AFSC board president. "The community-wide singing event was specifically meant to combat social isolation and encourage social interaction among Sisters Country residents."

The Low Bar Chorale from Portland, made up of seven national touring musicians led by Ben Landsverk, had the room rocking out and creating beautiful harmonies.

Deal told The Nugget, "The band was thrilled to have been invited, and the audience - ranging in age from little kids to a van full of older adults from The Lodge - learned more about each other and about AFSC and experienced an evening of community and song. Everyone agreed to wear name tags, and folks mingled. We even had a surprise performance by lively Zumba dancers who crashed the party."

At the end of the evening, many attendees were heard remarking about how much fun they had, and they hoped this would become an annual event.

"Chasing away isolation and promoting social inclusion are fundamental to livability - so AFSC was pleased to see the big turnout for this community-wide event," said Deal. "Sisters has long been known for its rich musical tradition, and this was a chance for everyone to join the band for one night. While it was a fledgling effort for AFSC, we learned a lot and hope to do it again next year."

The AFSC board acknowledged: their grant partner, The Roundhouse Foundation; their co-sponsor of the evening Citizens4Community; and donors Rotary Club of Sisters, St. Charles Health System, AARP, Sisters Folk Festival Presents, Les Schwab Tire, Sisters Ace Hardware, MidOregon Credit Union, the Central Oregon Council on Aging, Van Handel Automotive, and GrandStay Hotel.

"AFSC hopes that we have earned the trust of our funders and their willingness to continue supporting us to spread our message about the work of our Action Teams and livability in Sisters Country widely throughout the community," Deal added.

Those who attended the event may not recognize AFSC, but they have likely heard of their flagship action team - STARS (Sisters Transportation and Ride Share) - which recruits volunteer drivers to provide free non-emergency medical transport. From its beginning in 2020, STARS now has over 30 drivers, 10 dispatchers, and 150 passengers. They have provided over 1,000 rides, driven over 50,000 miles, and provided over 7,000 volunteer hours to the community.

While the event at The Belfry was free, donations at the door were encouraged to help AFSC expand its impact. AFSC is a nonprofit with a mission and passion to make Sisters livable and accessible for all. This often begins with a citizen or group having a great idea for a project or service, but moving from "lightbulb moment" to launch can take some heavy lifting. To make that process easier, AFSC has simplified their process and created a straight line between innovation and impact, delivering the strategic oversight, fiscal structure, and administrative support needed to get inspiration up and running. Anyone with a great idea for improving livability in Sisters Country is encouraged to contact them.

AFSC can be reached at [email protected] or 160 S. Oak St., Ste. 100, PMB 172, Sisters, OR 97759.


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