Local musicians play for an international cause, local church reaches across the world

The musicians of Playing for Good will play at the Charlotte Congregational Church on Sunday, July 14 at 5 p.m. to benefit Malayaka House. Photo contributed

There’s a whole pile of good going on at the Charlotte Congregational Church this weekend—Playing for Good will sharing its talents with the town while helping others. The classical chamber music ensemble is entertaining at the church on Sunday, July 14, at 5 p.m. to benefit Malayaka House in a concert that is open to the public. The performance is free, but donations are welcome.

The six people who make up Playing for Good are all professional musicians who banded together to form an ensemble that plays solely to benefit nonprofit organizations. Sunday’s concert will feature both well-known and more eclectic selections of classical pieces; their goal is to entertain both classical music fans as well as those who are less familiar with the genre. Started by musician Jane Kittredge, the ensemble has been performing for almost three years.

Malayaka House is a Vermont-based nonprofit with a global impact; the organization operates a home in Entebbe, Uganda, that provides shelter and love for children who have been abandoned by their families. Started by Vermonter Robert Fleming, the nonprofit is comprised of volunteers and supporters from across the globe, including Spain, Germany, Canada and the United States.

Jim Hyde, a member of the Missions Committee at the church, said that a partnership has developed over time between the congregation and Malayaka House. “Two years ago, we at the Charlotte Congregational Church decided to establish a collaboration,” he said. “The hope was that in addition to providing some ongoing financial support we would also help to disseminate information about MH to the broader community.”

Malayaka House provides medical, educational and vocational support for children whose families are unable or unwilling to care for them because of their special needs, which is often a result of poverty and illness.

Hyde hopes that bringing more attention to the organization will engage community members not only on a financial level but on an emotional one as well. Malayaka House started with Fleming taking responsibility for one child with mental and physical challenges and grew over the past 14 years into a home that cares both physically and emotionally for over 40 Ugandan children. Fleming, who splits his time between Vermont and Uganda, will be at the concert on Sunday.

The connection between the Congregational Church and Malayaka House is strong; Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen said that along with financial support that the church strives to provide, there are other benefits for both Charlotters and the people in Uganda. He said part of the long-term plan is “to get to know them and for them to get to know us. For example: we have exchanged letters between our youth and children and theirs; we have Skyped together; we are hoping to visit Uganda in the coming months.”
Fleming is Kittredge’s former tennis teacher; she is not only the violinist in Playing For Good, but is a member of the church and the church’s contact with Malayaka House. Goldenbogen said that the connections came naturally from that. “Rev. Susan McKnight, now retired former pastor of the Warren United Church is a friend of our Associate Pastor Susan Cooke Kittredge. During the summer of 2017, Rev. McKnight preached at one of our Sunday services about Malayaka House and lit a spark at our church. In 2018, our Missions Team, chaired by Jim Hyde, then picked up the spark and lit a fire!”