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By Gloria Russell - The Sun Staff

WESTERLY - The Connecticut singers who specialize in raising funds to fight poverty and hunger will perform for the first time in Rhode Island next month with a concert at the Dunn's Corners Community Church, Presbyterian.

The March 19 performance will be preceded by a supper and a musical interlude before the main event at 7 p.m.

Lynn Schaufler, a member of the church mission committee, said the group, Local United Network to Combat Hunger (LUNCH) will feature the music of the late Harry Chapin and original music by Bill and Kay Pere.

Local youngsters involved in the project include Natalie Brown of Westerly High School, Danielle O'Farrell and Samantha Schaufler, Grade 6, Babcock Middle School, Angela and Angelo Ferrara of Pawcatuck Middle School, Stefanie Schaufler, Grade 5, State Street School, and Grace Cordio, Grade 4, Tower Street School.

Lynn Schaufler recalled she discovered LUNCH by accident as she was looking for a voice teacher for her daughters and came across Kay Pere in Mystic. Her daughter Samantha was invited to attend a practice session of the LUNCH ensemble. "Today, three years later, both of my daughters are members of this fantastic organization," she said.

Hearing songs with positive and meaningful messages, Schaufler said, "reminds me of the true power of music in our lives ... helping others less fortunate. Knowing you can make a difference..."

Ten-year-old Stafanie echoes her mother's sentiments, citing the camaraderie, the performances and the opportunity to make new friends as contributing to her enthusiasm for the program, but "the best part is that the group is helping for the hungry... the poor and the unfortunate and the ability to earn money from the concerts and plays to donate to the homeless..."

Founded by Mystic resident Bill Pere in 1989 LUNCH uses the power of popular music to spur positive social action. More than 2,000 local children have presented numerous productions, with proceeds going to benefit hunger relief and family service agencies. The group has participated in the Harry Chapin Legacy Concert series, summer music camps, annual holiday shows and a series of CD recordings.

Bill and Kay Pere, directors of the LUNCH program, are award winning songwriters and recording artists and have public school teaching credentials. Bill is an official Connecticut State Troubadour and the 2003 National Indie Artist of the Year.

LUNCH is based on a program set by the late Harry Chapin, the founder of World Hunger Year, who demonstrated how one person, through the power of song, could greatly affect the lives of others. LUNCH seeks to instill this in the young people who get involved in the shows. The ensemble welcomes kids of all ability levels, and doesn't hold auditions.

Originally Published March 2005, The Westerly Sun

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