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Concert benefits charity created in honor of child

SPENCER — Lori Yang and I have been friends for years. Ten years ago, I was privileged to attend the first Voices of Hope concert. I’ve written about the concert numerous times since. It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since that wonderful community event began.
“Our banner says ‘Thank you for 10 years of hope and healing,’ ” Lori says. “That’s what it’s been.”
This year’s Voices of Hope concert is slated for 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Spencer’s Library Park. Admission is $2 and children under 12 are admitted free.
Food and drinks will be available.
For the community, Lori says, “It’s a great day with family and friends. But every year I think about a new family, coming out to remember their child.”
The event came about in order to fund the foundation that Lori and husband Steve started, The Michael Yang Foundation. Their son, Michael, died in his sleep in 2001.
The Yangs found no local support group for grieving parents who had lost their children, so they started one through the foundation. The Circle of Hope support group meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at 2290 Statesville Blvd.
There is also individual counseling available, and there is never a charge for services.
“No one ever has to worry about getting help,” Lori says. “Counseling is expensive. Nowadays, it’s a luxury.”
Lori knows she has an important role in the support group.
“I am able to make connections and help others get connected,” she says. “That’s important.”
With the foundation on solid footing, Lori says that the purpose of the concert has evolved over the years. “Now it’s more a day of remembrance for parents.”
Lori herself has experienced healing since her son died. She still wears a pendant with his picture on it. But she’s made it past the stage of paralyzing grief.
“You’ve gotta cry and you’ve gotta hurt,” she says. “There’s no way around grief. You’ve got to go through it.”
Now, she says, “I can go into the concert knowing it’s going to be a good thing. You hope people go home that day with a good feeling, thinking that ‘Life is good. I’m going to make it.’ ”
For more information, log onto www.michaelyangfound.org.
Susan Shinn is communications assistant at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

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