Community to the rescue

Residents rally behind benefit for homeowner who lost his house in fire

Posted: Friday, March 31, 2006

Drummer Woody Baldwin is nervous about his upcoming fundraising gig because he knows when people in Juneau need help, others are likely to show up in hordes.

His contemporary Christian band, Earthen Vessel, is playing Saturday at St. Paul's Catholic Church to raise money for Shelby Edwards, the owner of a Gold Street home destroyed by fire March 12. Organizers say the event could draw a crowd of 150 people.

"I've never met the people (Edwards)," Baldwin said. "When I heard the place burnt down, I thought, 'We can play some music, have some fun and make some money for them at the same time.' The band was all for it."

Earthen Vessel is one of three bands that will play. One Body and Caribe Worship also will perform sets. The Island Time Dancers are also scheduled to perform.

The Saturday fundraiser begins with a spaghetti feed at 6 p.m.

"It first started out as a potluck," organizer Angie Nolan said.

Families have donated food and preparation time for the dinner, while Nolan is coordinating the effort.

"Once I started this, other people came out of the woodwork," she said.

Shelby Edwards and his family have already received some help from family, friends, St. Paul's Catholic Church, the Red Cross and Chapel by the Lake. Small monetary donations have been made. The basics - clothing and household items - have been covered, Edwards said.

"We're in survival mode now," Edwards said.

Volunteers helped him clean up the site last week. Remains of the house will be removed next week.

"We're only two weeks through this ordeal," Edwards said.

He said he is hoping that funds donated at the event and insurance will help ease his largest cost - rebuilding.

Organizers and Edwards also hope to combine efforts with Holy Trinity Episcopal Church for a larger benefit to aid in the rebuilding process. The church's youth group is hosting a benefit, the "Fools for Christ" fundraiser, to help the Holy Trinity Restoration Fund. The event starts at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Edwards, born and raised in Juneau, said he feels grateful for the outpouring of community support thus far.

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"I really hate to ask anything from anybody. I'd rather take it on myself," Edwards said. "It's tough to ask for help sometimes."

With five fundraisers on Saturday night alone, Juneau proves again to be a town that takes care of its own.

"I don't know what it is about Juneau," Baldwin said. "Whenever something happens, they hurry up to join together and help out."

"I would hope somebody would do the same for me," Nolan said.

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