As the concert dates Elisabeth von Trapp had scheduled for Florida and Virginia neared, she and her husband, Edward Hall, talked about how best she could use the intervening six days.
They called Vermont’s bishop, Thomas Ely, with a proposal to perform benefit concerts in hurricane-stricken Mississippi and Louisiana.The couple established contacts with churches deeply involved with the relief efforts and headed south from Waitsfield, Vt., with a Chevy suburban and trailer filled with sound equipment, camping gear and donated goods.
“We got to Long Beach [Miss.] very late one night after the concert in Florida,” said von Trapp. “It was so shattering to see the devastation, debris piled upon debris. In the dark, we saw concrete slabs where people had pitched their tents.
“The first person we met that night was a Dr. Bob,” she said. “‘Help the people tell their stories,’ he told us. ‘Take time to listen to their stories.’”
Von Trapp worked that day at the clothing distribution site operated by Episcopalians at Camp Coast Care, helping one man find clothes for a job interview, another search for clothes for nieces, nephews and grandchildren. “In almost every case they would stop and tell us their stories,” she said.
One admitted to her: “I can only show my pain at the relief center. When I get home I have to be strong.” Another told her: “I may not have anything, but I know what my faith is now.”
“I was totally touched by the encounters and the faith of these people,” the descendant from the legendary Trapp Family Singers said.
Her first concert was in the gym for workers in the camp. “I had to struggle to get through my music that night,” she said. “Emotions were so tense; we had been working so hard all day. It offered a moment to get away from the hardship you experience all day long. I just wanted to cradle these people with my song.”
For more on Elisabeth von Trapp, her CDs and future concert dates, visit: http://www.elisabethvontrapp.com/