Kristen Graves, the Fairfield folk singer who is also the state troubadour, was front and center in Pequot Library's auditorium Saturday night to strum up support for Operation Hope and its mission to end homelessness.
Dozens of people were on hand to hear Graves, joined by acoustic guitarist Glenn Roth and percussionist Spencer Cohen. The three performed many of Graves' songs, which included selections from her latest CD, "Now Ain't the Time for Tears." Copies of the CD, along with tee-shirts, were available for sale, with a percentage of sales benefiting Operation Hope as was a share of the ticket proceeds.
The concert also served to highlight Operation Hope's participation in a 100-Day Campaign to End Homelessness, in collaboration with Alpha Community Services, Catholic Charities, New Reach and Supportive Housing Works. According to Operation Hope Executive Director Carla Miklos, the mission of the campaign was "to house all the chronically homeless people identified during our registration week, specifically those with the highest rate of physical and mental illness, addictions and longevity of time being homeless."
The push had been a successful one, said Miklos. "With just days to go, we have housed two-thirds of the people we identified as high needs in the population and are prepared to house eight more this week, to meet our goal of housing 45 individuals and families," she said.
Miklos explained that it was innovative to target this population because, "They are hard to find, have many barriers to success and, often times, are just invisible to the rest of us."
The partnership between the area social-services agencies was also unique. "We usually work on our own agendas and missions," Miklos said.
As to the pairing with Graves, Miklos said, "Besides being so talented, she has a real passion for social justice and doesn't shy away from supporting causes for hunger, homelessness and causes like her husband's group Simply Smiles."
With her appointment as Connecticut's troubadour by the state Office of Arts and Tourism, Graves said the honorary title lends credibility and has imparted more recognition outside the state.
Graves, born in Green Bay, Wisc., has called Fairfield home for the past six years.
She said she wanted to support Operation Hope because of its local mission. "Many other groups serve on a worldwide basis," she said. "And I like this area. It's a supportive place to be involved in music and causes."