The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Catherine Ellerton
Contributing Writer 

'Changes" From Out of the Darkness' Promises A Light at the End of the Tunnel


“I’d be in this great mood and then, at the snap of a finger, it just rains all over your parade. But rain it also cleanses, it washes everything clean. You can start all over and make things right. And out of that…hopefully there’s growth.” These inspiring words were spoken by Michelle Cory during the third annual ‘Lights On’ concert on Thursday, May 23rd. Shelly, a resident at Liberty Place, then inspiringly performed the vocals to the song “Have You Ever Seen The Rain Coming Down” (written by John Cameron Fogerty).

The Liberty Place Arts Project mission statement states that “Liberty Arts strives to provide an opportunity for all individuals with brain injury to meaningfully engage with the arts and with others.” Before the evening concert began an Art Exhibit and reception was held at the Borden Hotel Conference Room. This room, under the guidance of Barbara Liem, a volunteer in the Visual Arts Program, was awash in color. There were trees, balloons, chickens, houses, mountains, birds, fish and hearts colorfully depicted in the many paintings lining the room. Spoke with Melanie Gugierrez, one of the artists, who enthusiastically stated that she loves the program. She would also be involved in the music later in the day at the Star Theatre playing the tambourine and the keyboard.

Passing by the hors d’oeuvre table for the third time, this reporter took a moment to speak with artist Branden Duffield who stated that he liked the art classes which are held on Friday and especially enjoys putting different colors together on his favorite color a bright yellow. Wandering on I met Austin Davis who said he had been at Liberty Place for about four years now.

He enjoyed the Art Classes and the Music Program and stated that he had taken part in these before coming to Liberty Place. He divulged that they were starting to produce an album. Later, during the Music Program, Austin was a lead Backup vocalist in such inspiring songs as “We Want To Be Free” written by and sung by resident Linda Wolfe.

This musical program was led by Program Director David Parker a Music Therapist. Adding to the ensemble were Janet Heilig’s Middle School Band students: Mack Williams, Jordan Mercer and Gabriel Popalis. Between the pieces, different residents would present a short synopsis of their feelings: “What could I have done different?” by Bill Burns; “Speaking of changes. . .” by Kelsey Messick; “It’s hard to get people to understand” by Jeffery Kammers; “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the rain” by Paige Flynn. These inspiring dissertations spoke of the writer’s inner feelings and hopes. These stories were continued in a number written by the Music Ensemble “We Want To Thank You.”

Ending this eye-opening and heart wrenching evening was the song “We Will Rock You” (words and music by Brian Harold May) in which the audience was invited to clap to the music and sing along on the chorus “We will, we will rock you.” And they did.

But these programs wouldn’t be concluded without the questioning song “This town that they call Whitehall.” Once again this program emphasized the positive work being done at Liberty Place – two in Whitehall and one facility in Belgrade. In addition to the music and art program they have gardening and other programs for the residents – all of which would welcome any volunteer time that would be offered.


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