COLUMBIA — Nineteen-year-old Gretchen Chardos has watched her parents, Hank and Sally — the executive directors of Birthright and HomeWorks of Columbia — generously work to help people in need. Now she has been able to put her own leadership skills and talents into action. The youth single-handedly organized a benefit concert for HomeWorks’ annual mission trip to Peru. People attending the concert were asked to bring vitamins, eyeglasses, musical instruments or monetary contributions for Father Donald Gorski’s mission in Zorritos.
Having played for South Carolina’s All State Orchestra in high school, Gretchen called on her talented friends and acquaintances to help with the concert. She also put up posters in town to solicit other musicians who might be willing to work for a good cause.
Willie Wilson saw a poster asking for performers and had to respond. He played the soprano saxophone and piano at St. Peter Church, where the event was held.
“What really drew my interest was that I could use my talents to help others. As a Christian, it is a blessing for me to support HomeWorks because I believe in what they are in doing,” Wilson said.
Pianist Amy Zhang said that she is not affiliated with any religion but wanted to be a part of the concert.
“This is the big cause that everyone should embrace,” the gifted 15-year-old from Columbia said, who has played in other benefit concerts in the area.
A mother-and-son team also came to Gretchen’s aid. Jane Arant played the piano, and her son Will who played the French horn.
Musicians from as far away as Charleston and North Carolina took part in the concert.
“The people responded with such generosity,” said Gretchen.
The HomeWorks group left for Peru Aug. 3 and returned Aug. 15. The volunteers helped repair homes, build new ones, and bring food to people in isolated areas.