Yvonne Wall - Photo by Errin Andrus.
A Home for the Holidays WRITTEN BY JJ Abernathy
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.” - Robert Frost
for the Holidays The Dove Center
FEATURING MUSIC BY
Hilary Weeks • Sam Payne • Kurt Bestor • Michael McClean • Eclipse • Michael Dowdle • Alex Boye In our varied circumstances here upon earth, each individual comes for a visit, not knowing why, yet seemingly for a marvelous purpose. From the perspective of daily living, however, we may realize from time to time that we are here for the benefit of one another. Some will depend on us for our smiles, our talents, our gifts – and similarly we depend on others for their smiles, their talents, their gifts. Like patrons of luminous light, we feel connected by compassion and empathy. In a time of reflection, Albert Einstein said it like this: “Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellowmen [and fellow women] ... and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”
Katherine Nelson - Photo by Russ Dixon. William Joseph Photo by Russ Dixon.
The Only Gift is a Portion of Thyself
My own reflections on gifts and giving this season center on Yvonne Wall, creative musician, record producer, and the driving force behind the Southern Utah Singer Songwriters Association (SUSWA). Yvonne Wall and Sam Payne co-founded SUSWA in 2002, but Sam moved to Northern Utah, and Yvonne, with her perpetual enthusiasm, felt impassioned somehow to blend and balance her family and personal lives to keep SUSWA rolling. I first met Yvonne several years ago at an Ancestor Square SUSWA concert and watched her as she superbly promoted area musicians. She is a dynamo, hardworking and tirelessly energetic, who innately makes miracles in the lives of many people. About this time last year, in a rather serendipitous meeting, I ran into Yvonne, who told me of a project she was working on. I was visiting a dining area I rarely visited, but Yvonne saw me and was overjoyed to tell about her newest project that involved a community of musicians giving their soulful songs to a project to help the homeless, the hungry, and the downtrodden. With her voice of vision, Yvonne talked a serious kind of talk, and I felt as if she had tucked a warm blanket tightly over the community. I seemed to hear a forgotten song in another existence, yet remembering again, and I found myself amazed by her energy and spirit of achieving what some may call the unachievable. I remembered a thought shared by Anne Morrow Lindberg who had lamented that her life could â€œnot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom [her] heart responds.â€? Yet, here was Yvonne knowing she could do what others said was impossible and her heart was telling her she could.
Lyndy Butler Photo by Deertown Photography.
Kurt Bestor Photo by Butch Adams.
Yvonne had read a front page story in The Spectrum newspaper about Dixie Care and Share, a food pantry and shelter serving Southern Utah for over 30 years, and the prospect of its closing its doors for lack of funds seemed real. The errand of the Care and Share is to help those in need of food for themselves or their families and to provide occasional shelter for struggling souls; however, Care and Share is not just a temporary shelter. It provides H O L I D AY I S S U E 2 0 1 2
food for working families who may make enough money to pay the rent, lights and heating, but then have nothing left to purchase food. Often they are single moms trying to support their families on minimum wage. The Care and Share also offers access to laundry facilities and showers where overnight guests and the homeless may wash their clothes, shower, and clean up. Some of the monthly expenses of the organization are personal hygiene products and laundry soap. Just imagine more than 50 people using these facilities daily! Yvonne told me how Care and Share has received grants that provide counseling in life skills to help people find employment, holding workshops and classes to assist people who are temporarily without work and without a roof over their heads. Some are fighting the battle against substance abuse and have nowhere to go. Yvonne said, “The Care and Share fills a critical need in our community and I feel the more people understand its vital role, the more they will support it.”
Hilary Weeks Photo by Shadow Mountain Records.
Alex Boye - Photo by Shadow Mountain Records.
“When I read in the paper about the Care and Share’s situation I was in a dither, because it plays such an important role in our community,” said Yvonne. “If we can’t reach out to help our fellow brothers and sisters, then it’s a sad, sad day.”
Matt Abernathy Photo by Carol Call Photography. Catherine Papworth Photo by Marshall Glass. Eric Dodge - Photo by Ashton and Nikell Dodge. Eclipse - Photo by Eclipse, licensed to Shadow Mountain Records.
The Musicians Bring Their Music
Because of the front page news of a potential closure, the shelter garnered extra donations and shelved the idea of its immediate closing, but it still was in need of an earnest solution. Yvonne continued: “I put my thinking cap on and came up with a little idea.” She could round up 10 songs from musicians she knew throughout Utah, and thought if she could sell 1000 CDs, she could raise $10,000 for the Care and Share. “I shared my idea with a good friend of mine, Carolyn McDonald, who suggested I contact Monty Magelby with the Wade Family Foundation. She recommended we invite Kurt Bestor and Dan Truman to be on the CD, and that’s where the idea seemed to mushroom. I called Monty, and he proposed we contact Thurl Bailey. By this time we were talking 3000 CDs. In a meeting with the Wade Foundation and Adam Dunn, our projections grew even higher. By the time we were finished we had 18 musicians willing to contribute. We called the CD A Care and Share Christmas.” Yvonne told how volunteers came out of the woodwork and how little miracles took place every day, reminding her that she wasn’t in charge.
April Meservy - Photo by Brianne Hall.
That was last year. The project raised $65,000 for Care and Share, and Yvonne says, “This year we have our sites set high again, hoping to raise that much and more. We’re producing a new CD to sell at Christmas time this year, yet we still have some CDs left over from last year for those who didn’t buy one, and we will be offering them as both a single and double package sets with the new one.
Sam Payne - Photo by Joshua Russell.
This year’s musicians include Lower Lights, Hilary Weeks, Kurt Bestor, Sam Payne, Eclipse, Ryan Innes, April Meservy, Matt Abernathy, Katherine Nelson, Michael Dowdle, Steve Lemmon, Michael McClean, Alex Boyé, Yvonne Wall, Eric Dodge, Catherine Papworth, Lyndy Butler, and William Joseph. Some of the musicians’ selections are traditional Christmas music, like “Joy to the World” played by Kurt Bestor, or Alex Boye’s singing “The First Noel,” and Katherine Nelson’s “Glorious Song of Old” with “Silent Night,” and some are original, such as McLean’s “Forgotten Carols.” Yvonne Wall sings “Mary’s Song,” a piece she wrote with her friend Carolyn McDonald. Says Carolyn, “Yvonne gives a warm presentation with her easy effortless voice of silver that wraps around her lyrics of love and family. Her original songs are of hope and wistfulness and the virtues of courage and persistence.” The local musicians featured on the CD are planning a Christmas show, with the proceeds going to the Dixie Care and Share and the DOVE Center, both nonprofit organizations.” The DOVE Center’s mission revolves around building a community of peace one person, one family, one home at a time by providing safe, caring and confidential shelter, advocacy and support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Their aim is to reduce the incidents of abuse through prevention education. This facility, along with the continuation of providing domestic violence and rape recovery advocacy, consultation and prevention education, also facilitates free counseling, youth programs, support groups, healthy life skills class, and community education and training.
Ryan Innes - Photo by Nathaniel Ray Edwards.
No project could endure without extraordinary sponsors who are paying for the costs of the CD so that all the proceeds go directly H O L I D AY I S S U E 2 0 1 2
Michael Dowdle Photo by Russ Dixon.
Lower Lights - Photo by Jed Wells.
to the shelters, Dixie Care and Share and the DOVE Center. Gold sponsors are the Wade Family Foundation and Stephen Wade; silver sponsors are the Marriott Group and Zions Bank; bronze sponsors are Wilson Electronics, The Outlets at Zion, and Quality Excavation. Yvonne says: “Our theme, A Home for Christmas, focuses on the homeless, and this CD benefits both entities because they both serve souls seeking refuge and a room over their heads.”
Home is Where the Heart Is
Yvonne has been defined as a beautiful and very special woman, who writes and sings about those things that really matter in life, like family, friends, and cultivated kindness. Singer songwriter Matt Abernathy says of Yvonne: “For years she has done so much and continually goes above and beyond the call of duty for so many musicians and special causes in this community. For many of us here locally, we wouldn’t be on the map if it weren’t for Yvonne. And yet most of us really can’t fathom the lengths she goes to make sure we are happy, appreciated, and compensated. Being a local musician in Southern Utah is not lucrative by any means and Yvonne, sometimes I suspect, will pay us right out of her own pocket. She loves us and we definitely feel it.” Yvonne has a deep love of songwriting and music and is always willing to help anyone get started in music. Yet, in genuine humility, she reiterates this project is not about her, but about bringing people together and making a difference in the community. Although she is a successful recording artist and music producer, Yvonne identifies herself first as wife, mother, and, in her own words, “Who would believe—grandmother?”
JJ Abernathy completed a Fellowship in the National Endowment for the Arts Classical Music and Opera Journalism Institute at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is an educator, freelance writer, and arts advocate.
Michael McClean Photo by Shadow Mountain Records.
CDs available at Hurst’s Ace Hardware, Lin’s, Boulevard Home Furnishings, Outlet Stores at Zion, and State Bank of Southern Utah. For more information go to the organizations websites at www. dixiecareandshare.org or www.dovecenter.org