A spirit of giving and fellowship enveloped a crowd of supporters who came to Westville’s Lyric Hall Friday, with the common purpose of raising funds for a modest health clinic in Ejemekwuru, Imo State, Nigeria. The project, sponsored by New Haven’s MaryCare organization, brought together Hartford and Westville communities, who were greeted at Lyric Hall by the African drum rhythms of Aly Tatchol Camara. A slate of performers and entertainers followed, with attendees enjoying foods, desserts, and fine wines donated by Amity Wines in the floral bedecked reception area.
The Caribbean-American Dance Group of Hartford moved gracefully on the Hall’s main floor, close enough to touch audience members who had pressed back to make room for the dancers.
The evening was punctuated by the soulful saxophone sounds of Cleveland “Starr” Horton and local musicians Tim Kane, Chris Kristan, and David DiMario. “Paula,” a singer who was a contestant on the popular TV program, “The Voice,” later brought the house down with her moving rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.”
A silent auction of art, wines, goods and indigenous African-textiles seemed of interest to those gathered. But the main attraction was Fr. Emmanuel Ihemedu, whose hometown in Nigeria will serve as the setting for a new health clinic once constructed.
Introduced by emcee Jack Paulishen, a teacher at Hillouse High School and a St. Aedan’s parishioner, Fr. Emmanuel spoke to the audience underscoring a message of how a single person can impact the lives of others: “Your blessing is only one person away from you” he said, recalling the words of a preacher he once heard. Fr. Emmanuel has helped bring life-saving development to the people of Emejekwuru and regions of his native Nigeria, through the auspices of New Haven’s MaryCare organization and supportive communities throughout Connecticut.