The intention last year was to make it a one-time thing.
Mary Moore, a Kansas City community activist and singer, figured she’d gather a group of women and have a day of jazz to raise money for homeless women in the area. She also wanted the community to realize that women who are struggling to raise their children and start over needed their help.
Several female performers pitched in for the Women in the Arts KC event. And because of the success of that benefit, Moore found herself at the microphone again Sunday afternoon.
“It’s calling me,” she said minutes before the show began inside the Blue Room on 18th Street. “I want people to come and see that women in the homeless population, they’re not losers. They’re not a lost cause.”
Just like last year, the second annual fundraiser benefited True Light Ministries and Emancipation Station, which is a day center for homeless women. They can go there to get out of the weather, or eat, get a fresh change of clothes and receive an array of supplies.
Moore volunteers at True Light and has spent time at the day center talking with women. She won’t forget what initially prompted her to want to help.
“I was in there one day, and a mother pinched off a piece of hot dog, trying to feed her baby,” Moore said Sunday. “And I said, ‘Oh no, not on my watch.’”
She started calling people, including Pamela Baskin-Watson, a jazz pianist and singer from the area.
“You can’t say no to Mother Mary Moore,” Baskin-Watson said, smiling, referring to what many call the community activist. “She wanted to do something, and I wanted to support her.
“When people hear there is a need,” she said, “most people, well, their heart opens up and they help any way they can.”
Moore hoped to raise $5,000 last year. She only missed that by $300.
That money provided food at Emancipation Station for a year, Moore said. The fundraiser also educated many.
“There are so many young ladies who are homeless in Kansas City,” said Cheryl Barksdale, who performed a dance Sunday to a song about how it’s never to late to follow your dream. “They have hardships and they need our help.”
As Moore opened Sunday’s show and fundraiser, she told the crowd how important the overall mission really is.
“This is about community, people,” she said, at times with the cadence and energy of a preacher on Sunday morning. “There’s a large population that all they need is a hand up, not a hand out.
“... I hope at the end of this day, you will be inspired to take action.”