IN THE COMMUNITY
One of the missions of O’Connell & Company Productions is giving back to our community through various collaborative efforts with local and national charities, with a special focus on women’s and children’s charities . Our biggest fundraising tool is our original production, “DIVA by DIVA: A Celebration of Women!”. Other specialty shows have also been developed over the years to meet the needs of charitable organizations and community groups. On this page we will share information on some of our community activities, events and fundraising endeavors.
ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE
Once a month at lunchtime, Mary Kate O’Connell and a handful of DIVAS can be found entertaining in the lobby at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a nationally-recognized Cancer Research and Care center in Buffalo, NY. At the keyboard will be DIVA Carol Wrzosek, a Research Technologist at Roswell.
In January 2012, O’Connell & Company received the following letter from Debbie Miga, Volunteer Services Administrator at Roswell Park:
“Dear Musical Group: On behalf of all the patients, their families, staff and volunteers, I would like to thank you for sharing your gift of music with us. I hope that you have enjoyed the experience as much as we enjoy having you! The Alliance Foundation Board and Administration of Roswell Park Cancer Institute agree that music can enhance the therapeutic and professional environment in a hospital setting. That is the goal of the “Music in the Lobby” program. We would be honored if you would consider performing for us again….once again, thank you!”
In keeping with O’Connell & Company Productions’ mission of giving back to our community, we ventured into the “publishing” world in 2004 and produced a cookbook with the surprising title of, “DIVA by DIVA – The Cookbook”. If you came to any of our shows between 2004 and 2009, you probably saw us promoting our lovely 3-ring binder cookbook which featured DIVA drinks, DIVA d’oeuvres, DIVA dining and DIVA delectables. We dedicated this cookbook (and half its proceeds) to Cornerstone Manor, a favorite O’Connell & Company charity for many years.
The Cornerstone Manor, Buffalo City Mission’s shelter for homeless women and children, has a twofold mission: To provide basic needs (food, clothing & shelter) that keep people alive; and, to provide an essential support network and services to allow women to deal with the underlying issues that cause homelessness by offering programs in parenting, budgeting, job training, education, counseling and spiritual guidance. The 120 bed facility is located at the corner of North St. and Michigan Ave. in Buffalo and provides space for medical, mentoring and faith-based services, and enables more women to stay longer. For more information about Cornerstone Manor, visit http://www.buffalocitymission.org (then select “Programs & Services) or call (716) 854-8181.
WOMEN’S RESPITE PROGRAMS | Stella Niagara, NY
“Restoring Hopes, Refreshing Bodies, Renewing Spirits”
The following article appeared in the Spring 2009 Newsletter, “Voices from the Women’s Respite”:
“THANK YOU, DIVAS!
The joy of music and laughter filled the auditorium the evening of March 24th as Mary Kate O’Connell and company brought a performance of DIVA by DIVA to Stella Niagara to benefit the Women’s Respite Programs. The DIVAS gathered on stage to tell stories, read poems, and belt out songs that inspired, amused and had us laughing ’till we cried. Women from all walks of life make up the cast and through their shared talents, celebrate the dignity, challenge, beauty and humor of being a woman. Their message inspires gratitude, confidence and an awareness that “we are all in this together”, something that women from the Respite Programs know from their experiences in our programs. A delicious hors d’oeuvre reception preceded the performance and allowed us to meet many old and new friends. Mary Kate and Company have generously offered to bring a special performance of DIVA to the weekend of the Grandmothers Respite. And we know the message will again be received gratefully: celebrate who you are! Thank you DIVAS for your generous gift to us!”
The DIVA performance for the Grandmothers Respite was held on May 2, 2009 at Stella Niagara. In addition to another round of stories, jokes, poems and songs, the DIVAS participated in an after-show “Girl Talk” segment which allowed for an open discussion with the audience. Topics included the importance of maintaining female connections and friendship, taking care of yourself – health-wise, beauty-wise and spiritually, and how to draw on our inner strength to see us through hard times. Personal stories were shared by both cast and audience, and feedback after the show was proof that everyone enjoyed the evening. Our thanks to Sister Diane Gianadda and her staff at Stella Niagara for their hospitality and friendship.
The Women’s Respite Programs at Stella Niagara provide women in need with an opportunity for rest and renewal in a safe and comfortable environment. The Programs serve very low income single mothers, grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren, and women with cancer diagnosis who are referred by various agencies. The Program is supported by grants and donations and is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis.
For more information, their e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (716) 893-0931. Their address is 1301 Ferry Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY 14301.