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“Harmonies of Hope”

Pastor Rasheed Baaith

Pastor Rasheed Baaith

“Harmonies of Hope”

By Pastor Rasheed Z Baaith

     “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”   (Psalm 31:24)

     Black History Month should be one in which there is inspiration as we look back on our past and anticipation as we look into our future. We need to understand that our past has not anchored us, our present situations are not permanent and we hold the determination of our future.

To that end it is my intention to bring attention to folks, events and organizations that we are not ordinarily aware of but focused on recognizing the usually untapped talents of our children, the capacity we have to better our community and who have decided to do what needs to be done even if they have to do it alone.

The leaders of Harmonies of Hope are part of the new vanguard. Harmonies of Hope is a school of music and performing arts but one different from most. I think their website tells us what they understand that many of us do not. We read: “There is a resource of undiscovered talent that exists within the economically disadvantaged community. Those resources that enable children to excel must not be lost. Harmonies of Hope, Inc. is reaching into those communities to provided an opportunity that otherwise might not have been available to them.”

I could not agree more. Harmonies of Hope is under the leadership of Seraetha Berry-Virtanen, who is the president of the school and her husband Lance Virtanen, who is program director. Their vision is a compelling one. They believe there is a need for “harmony.”  “There has to be a blend of people, cultures, and music. Our purpose to provide arts for young people ages seven-18 and do it regardless of an ability to pay. We believe music is a help and our school provides avenues for expression and development to children,” Ms. Berry-Virtanen said.

The school is three years old and is in Joseph C. Carter Park, holding classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. There are classes in instruments, dance, vocals, drama but the vision of the school is for it to be a “complete performing arts school.” One of the school’s hopes is to have classes in violin, piano, woodwinds, jazz, commercial music, engineering, and the recording process. And at some point adding the visual arts.

The vision sounds expensive and it is but the leadership of Harmonies of Hope are determined to bring the vision to a reality despite the cost.  To help make the dream real, the Virtanens have started their own coffee company, the proceeds of which will go to underwriting the costs of the school. The company is named “Harmonies Brew.” How many Black people do we know that own a coffee company? How many of us even imagine owning a coffee company?

Harmonies of Hope and “Harmonies Brew” are an expression of is the shift in thinking that today’s social realities require. Not only do we have to recognize and analyze our problems but evolve financial strategies to impact them.  But even as we value this thoughtful appraisal, we need to understand there should be a collective effort. At some point Black people need to understand that anything of value must be paid for in time and in money. We need to begin to support efforts like the Harmonies of Hope School even if we give just 10 dollars a month. After all if 100 of us gave 10 dollars a month, the school would have an additional $1,000.00 for the students. If we don’t value each other’s labors no one else will.  And no one else should.

Take your children over to Harmonies of Hope for the classes and please take $10 with you. Think about it.


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