Last Friday night was a magical night. The magic began in the mid afternoon on the Downtown Silver Spring Veteran’s Plaza, after a long and torrid series of rain showers. Right under the pavilion, nearly eighty young performers sang and danced, defying the rainy weather and celebrating their bodies, their voices, their sheer love of performing. I relaxed in a chair toward the back, one among hundreds of individuals who watched with pride, anticipation, and awe. The second grader sang Beautiful, her notes soft, sultry; a fourth-grade boy sang from Les Miserables, confidently, commanding his audience. The 22-member youth choir from Detroit belted out the vintage Motown sounds, causing every Baby Boomer in the crowd to move, even if slightly, and sometimes dramatically on their feet, rhythmically dipping from side to side; the hip hop dance troupe from D.C. and the step group from Alexandria came a great distance, in the rain, to share their love for movement. They were so good that they seemed ready for professional contracts. The youth who resided in NCCF’s group home gave out cookies and popcorn, all the while grinning with their ownership of the event. Happy. And Miss Maryland America served as the beautiful, brilliant mistress of ceremony for four hours. Pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at Howard University, she clearly loves hosting these children and youth.
“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”
– Nora Roberts
The night eventually flows into the Great Hall of the Silver Spring Civic Building. A fundraiser to raise dollars for NCCF’s programs. A group of children from the J. C. Nalle Community School perform a Kenyan ritual, Harambee. They sing about their own self worth despite the vicious odds they have been presented with at such tender ages. They have been taught to love themselves. The youngest child sits securely on the shoulders of an adult father figure, singing her heart out. Singing with love. The 450 attendees applaud with tears glistening, as they too attest that poor children can actually soar with success, when they are loved and supported. Five young, handsome adolescent males move onto the stage, one by one, hesitantly, fearfully. Each one holds in his hand a charcoal, water, or oil painting that he created. The auctioneer begins. Do I have $150? $175? $200? As each piece sells, the youth standing resolutely before the crowd begins to smile broadly. Happy. Their feelings, splashed on the canvas lovingly, carefully, now joyously, are validated with thunderous cheers. The young men experience love. It is a night for magic.