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Orchestra hosts benefit for Good Shepherd Clinic

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

For the second year in a row, the Southern Crescent Symphony Orchestra will host a benefit concert for the Good Shepherd Clinic in Morrow.

The concert will feature the SCSO, the Atlanta Festival Ballet, the Starr's Mill High School Chanticleer Choir and the Union Grove High School Concert Choir. Excerpts from Peter Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and George Händel's "Messiah," as well as several popular Christmas pieces, will be included in the hour-long concert. Guest soloists from Clayton State University's vocal program also will perform.

All ticket proceeds will benefit the Good Shepherd Clinic and its operations.

Next to the clinic's Tomato Sandwich Party fund-raiser in August, the concert is the clinic's second-biggest fund-raising effort, bringing in close to $1,700 in proceeds last year. The money is vital to the operation of the clinic, which runs entirely on public donations throughout the year, said Lisa Page, interim administrator at the clinic.

"Every dollar that is donated, we turn that into about $10 worth of medical care," said Page. "I like that the symphony and the director donate their time. I think it's a way to blend the sprit of Christmas with the spirit of charity."

Richard Bell, who is the founder of the SCSO, has served as its conductor for 16 years. He also has attended First Baptist Church of Morrow -- the church which oversees the Good Shepherd Clinic -- for the last ten years. He saw the concert as a way to give back to the community.

"This clinic is just a wonderful program offered to folks who have true needs," said Bell. The concert is "a chance for us to give back to the community every year. It's reaching a different audience than the Tomato Sandwich Party," he added.

Bell stepped in as the church's interim music director, after the previous director retired this summer, said Bert Watkins, administrator of First Baptist Church of Morrow and treasurer of the Good Shepherd Clinic.

"He knew the clinic was trying to raise money," last year, said Watkins. "[Bell] sat in on a board of directors meeting and said 'I think I have a way to make money.' He's been a great help."

Bell said he expects this year's concert will duplicate the success of the one held last year.

"It's a nice holiday treat for the audience, and a nice fund-raiser for the clinic," said Bell.