Singing away the blues 

Not all of America’s battles are being fought in impoverished countries on the other side of the globe. Some are being fought on our home turf. It’s just that these fights can’t be won by lobbing missiles.

For starters, about 1 million Michigan residents (and 31 million people nationwide) don’t have enough to eat at least once a week, according to the Detroit-based Hunger Action Coalition, which recently launched a hunger awareness campaign: “A Place at the Table.”

The coalition, which works with 200 soup kitchens and pantries in the tri-county area, is doing its darndest to raise money. But they need your help because many are busting at the seams trying to feed thousands of folks — including the working poor who have been showing up in droves since the welfare-to-work programs got under way in 1996.

The easiest — and certainly the most entertaining — way to help the Hunger Action Coalition is to plunk down $25 for a ticket to see folk singer Richie Havens in concert this Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. at the Southfield Centre for the Arts; thanks to the generous Mr. Havens, a friend to the hunger cause, all proceeds go to HAC. But if folk music is not your bag, don’t be discouraged. The Coalition will happily take cash donations. For more information about how to donate or concert tickets, call Bridget Nelson at 313-965-8117.

Illiteracy is another local — and national — battle being fought on American soil by a group of dedicated folks. According to Literacy Volunteers of America-Detroit, about 200,000 metro Detroiters are functionally illiterate — meaning they cannot complete a job application, read a newspaper or follow written instructions. To combat illiteracy, the Detroit group is raising money for its organization, which, like most literacy groups around the state, is running on a shoestring budget. (Thanks to our generous governor, it is exceedingly difficult for such groups to qualify for state funding.)

If you are up for a little church music, consider attending the Gospel for Literacy concert, which will feature many performers including the Lift Up Your Hands Ministry. The concert starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Detroit. Tickets are $15 per person and $25 per couples. For more information call 313-872-7720.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or

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