A Night of Music and Recognition for a Community Leader

South Side community organizer, Geneva Hayden, will receive the Syracuse Community Choir’s 2010 People’s Peace Award at upcoming concert

The Syracuse Community Choir has selected community organizer Geneva Hayden for the 2010 People’s Peace Award for her dedication to education and work with South Side youth. The Syracuse Community Choir will recognize Hayden at the choir’s 25th anniversary Winter Solstice Concert, “Coming Home,” on Sunday, Dec. 19, at Nottingham High School.

Geneva Hayden, who tutors students at the library, will receive the People’s Peace Award Dec. 19.

The Syracuse Community Choir gives the People’s Peace Award to an ordinary citizen who is doing extraordinary things in the community with an emphasis on social justice and peace, said Karen Mihalyi, founder and choral director of the Syracuse Community Choir. “[Hayden’s] an advocate for young people, plus she’s just an amazing person,” said Mihalyi.

After retiring from teaching in 1994, Hayden has been an active community organizer with an emphasis on youth development. Hayden started Communities United to Rebuild Neighborhoods (CURN), a grassroots organization to respond to the needs of South Side residents. She helped establish an annual scholarship for a graduating African American from the South Side who plans to further his or her education.

Hayden is also a big supporter of children’s literacy. She works with young mothers to stress the importance of reading to their children, and she is even known for giving out books instead of candy on Halloween. She created tutoring programs, such as Light a Candle for Literacy, a free library and after school program for kids.

“[Hayden] saw a lot of children at the library after school and wanted them to do more than play computer games,” said Pam Crane, branch manager for Beauchamp Library. “She saw the need for homework guidance and she came to us,” Crane said.

As a result, Hayden volunteers tutoring services every Tuesday during the school year at Beauchamp Library, said Crane. “She helps with homework and learning about cultural literacy.”

“The children really appreciate her efforts,” Crane said. “She deserves every award she gets.”

The Syracuse Community Choir wanted to recognize Hayden’s valuable community work. “I thought it was a good year to honor her,” Mihalyi said. This year, the choir is putting a special emphasis on young people because two youth members of the choir died, she explained. As such, Mihalyi felt it was fitting to honor Hayden for the positive work she has done with urban youth, as well as feature memorials for the two youth at the winter concert.

The Syracuse Community Choir's 25th anniversary Winter Solstice Concert, “Coming Home,” will begin at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, at Nottingham High School. -- Photo povided by Chuck Wainwright

The concert is celebrating the choir’s 25th anniversary with performances from the various children and adult ensembles. “We put together special songs that represent the choir, songs that focus on peace and justice,” Mihalyi said. The choir is comprised of people of all ages with an interest in music, a desire to work for social justice and an interest in community.

The choir also invited national performers to sing with them, including folk and gospel musicians Kim and Reggie Harris, activist musicians Emma’s Revolution, and singer Francisco Herrera. In addition, the choir is hosting two special events leading up to the anniversary concert with Remembering Night on Friday, where the community can share memories and images of loved ones, and Choir Portraits by Lida Suchy on Saturday.

The Syracuse Community Choir events and Winter Solstice Concert will celebrate peace, social justice, music, and an important community leader.

Syracuse Community Choir 25th Anniversary Concert Details:

Date: Sunday, Dec. 19

Time: 3:30 – 6 p.m.

Location: Nottingham High School, 3100 E. Genesee St.

Tickets: $10-25 Sliding Scale at Door (Children Under 12 Free)


Additional Anniversary Events:

Event: Remembering Night

Date: Friday, Dec. 17

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Erwin Methodist Church, Euclid Ave., 920 Euclid Ave.

Event: Choir Portraits by Lida Suchy

Date: Saturday, Dec.18

Time: 1 – 5 p.m.

Location: Light Work Gallery, 316 Waverly Ave.

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