Benefit concert builds food for belly of Bronx

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It’s been five years since the Kingsbridge Riverdale Marble Hill Food & Hunger Project serenaded a crowd of donors with Haitian jazz.

This weekend, the music is coming back.

The charity that brings food to those who need it most will once again host a benefit concert, this time featuring Spanish guitar and soprano singing from Juilliard School students. It might be a different sound from a somewhat different part of the world, but the KRMH mission remains the same

“I am hoping to get about 100 people out,” said Frances Segan, the civic group’s president. “We wanted to get new people to come and learn about the food and hunger project, and just to enjoy the park concert.”

The Oct. 14 event takes place at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, 4450 Fieldston Road, beginning at 2 p.m.

Lending a hand are students from the Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, who will serve as ushers.

However, like most projects, it takes a village. In addition to RKA, the Ethical Culture Fieldston School will donate 30 parking spaces across the street.

But it’s not just the community that has offered a helping hand. When it comes to using her guitar skills for the greater good, Alberta Khoury is no stranger to strumming for service. The Australian native has performed at Chris O’Brien Cancer Center — Australia’s leading cancer hospital — and Westmead Children’s Hospital. The second-year Juilliard master’s student has studied guitar since she was 4. Khoury volunteers and performs her feel-good concerts not just in the United States, but in her own community on the other side of the world.

“I like to play guitar because it can make people feel so happy,” Khoury said. “I hope they (the audience) gain exposure to different kinds of music and enjoy the concert and feel like they’re having a lot of fun with me. It brings a nice change in society and can improve humanity.”

The Bronx has the highest rate of “food insecurity” in the city — people going hungry for one reason or another — and KRMH helps bridge that gap by collecting groceries and offering them to those in need.

Proceeds from ticket sales — $20 for adults and $10 for teens and children — will help refill these food resources. Michelle Geffner, a Juilliard undergraduate soprano, also is slated to perform at the benefit concert, but her duties do not stop there. Outside of singing, Geffner advocates for arts education and outreach and diversity in classical music. Among other things, she’s hosted workshops in New Orleans for child victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The grassroots organization is filled with volunteers who dedicate their time to doing what they can to feed the north Bronx. During KRMH events, although their own resources are limited, the group tries not to turn anyone away.

“They don’t need to show that they have a food stamp card, but we do ask that they show a bill,” Segan said. “Even if someone comes and they’re hungry and they don’t have it, we’ll still give them food, but say, ‘Bring it next time.’ You don’t want to turn away people who are hungry.”

KRMH accepts their donations at multiple locations like the Riverdale Presbyterian Church, the Riverdale Temple, Christ Church, the local Ethical Culture Society, Country Bank and Wells Fargo Bank. While KRMH is an independent organization, it also depends on the collective support of the community.

Since a date was secured for the benefit concert KRMH has been sending emails and posting fliers. Local churches and synagogues are even featuring them in their bulletins.

“First I want them (the audience) to just enjoy us and just enjoy our special concert on a fall afternoon,” Segan said. “We also hope they will (get to) know more about us.

“Sometimes people can live in the area for a long time and not know about us,” she added, “and that’s why we’re having our concert.”

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