Concert aims to help displaced Mexican families

A concert to benefit families forced out of Chiapas, Mexico, because of a political war is scheduled 7 p.m. July 22 at Union Presbyterian Church of Los Altos, 858 University Ave.

Performers will include Bay Area musicians Bruce Herman, Chris Fernandez, Christine Abraham, Jamie Mulfinger and Emily Schmeichel-Frank, playing a wide array of music, including Broadway hits. Admission is free; donations will be accepted at the door.

Proceeds will support the Chiapaneca Project – run through the U.S.-based Operation Blessing International – which provides medical aid, hunger and disaster relief, child care, clean water and community development.

Concert organizers Gosia and Daryl Hoot, Saratoga residents who attend Union Presbyterian, said they chose Operation Blessing because they consider it a reliable organization with goals compatible with their personal mission.

“My husband and I have wanted to contribute and do something in the world that would make a difference long term,” Gosia said. “We interviewed many charity organizations, and we found Operation Blessing to be a match for us.”

A faith-based, nonprofit humanitarian organization, Operation Blessing launched the Chiapaneca Project to help the more than 200 families forced out of Chiapas that are now living in what was an uninhabited area just outside Cancun. They are trapped in poverty and lack access to electricity, paved roads, clean water and adequate health care, according to the Operation Blessing website.

The Hoots were drawn to the Chiapaneca Project because Operation Blessing had already identified the needs of the displaced Chiapaneca families, who desperately sought help.

Proceeds of the concert are targeted specifically for improving the education of Chiapaneca children. The educational standards in Chiapaneca are below average, according to Gosia, and students attend only six to seven years of school before going to work to provide for their families.

“This community does not have high expectations with education; we want to raise awareness for education and provide career options,” Gosia said. “Anything from regular labor, office help, resort help, office personnel. ... They need to be aware of the possibilities.”

The Hoots hope to raise $5,600 – enough to send six Chiapaneca children to high school for one year (including transportation, uniforms and supplies).

“We have so much here,” Gosia said of Silicon Valley. “We cannot help everybody, but we can help somebody – this is my somebody to help.”

To donate and for more information on the Chiapaneca Project, visit

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