BY GEORGE WIRT,STAFF WRITER
THE MONTCLAIR TIMES
When there is a need, Montclair's music community responds.
Parents Who Rock founder Alma Schneider, right, presents a check to the Rev. Paula Olivier, pastor of the First 7th Day Adventist Church, for the congregation's food pantry and soup kitchen.
Whether it's for a new and safer playground for local children, a rape crisis center that offers free counseling or a soup kitchen that feeds hungry people, musicians who volunteer under the "Parents Who Rock" banner regularly step forward to perform at benefit concerts and work at fundraising events for these and lots of other charitable causes.
"We're all parents who live in Montclair, we're all musicians, we're all at different levels of community activism, but we like raising money for local causes," said blues guitarist Michael Reitman. "It's the reason why we all got involved.
"We're doing what we love to do, and that's playing music," Reitman said. "And in doing that, we're giving back to the community."
The Parents Who Rock membership roster includes more than a hundred musicians, singers, song writers and performers, representing dozens of official and de facto performing groups. Its members appear on stage and work behind the scenes.
Since the group was founded by Alma Schneider in 2005, Parents Who Rock has raised more than $200,000 for nonprofit organizations, church groups and educational institutions.
Some PWR members will doing their volunteer work at "Bradfest," an evening of live music and dancing this Saturday, Feb. 9, upstairs at Tierney's Tavern, 136 Valley Road. Sock Monster, the Eugene Chrysler Band and Zara Phillips will be among the performers on stage raising money for Bradford Elementary School. Tickets are $20 at the door, and the music is slated to start at 8 p.m.
"It's a labor of love and it's a complete community effort," Schneider said of PWR's volunteer projects. "It's a win, win, win, win, win.
"Parents Who Rock benefits the musicians who need a creative outlet," Schneider noted. "It benefits members of the community who want to go out and see good music that is affordable. And it benefits local charitable organizations that are in need of money."
Schneider said the group primarily focuses its efforts on Montclair-based organizations so that "people will be able to see where their money is going."
Among the local groups Parents Who Rock has supported are the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, the Mountainside Hospital Breast Cancer Education Center, the Montclair Rape Crisis Center, the Montclair Public Schools Developmental Learning Center, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and the Family Service League.
"We do one tribute show each year in January where we pick one famous artist and we cover their songs," she said. "We just did one for Tom Petty."
Proceeds from the group's Tom Petty Tribute have been donated to assist the food pantry and soup kitchen operated by the First 7th Day Adventist Church, 15 Elmwood Ave., which has experienced a 20 percent jump in the number of people it serves since Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey.
The Rev. Paula Olivier said the funds "will help in the purchase of proteins and vegetables that will make it easier to provide balanced meals and food packages for our clients."
Its fundraiser this past January is just one of the events Parents who Rock organize each year
"We always do a big backyard event in September," Schneider said. "It's a family event. And people perform all day long, from 12 to six.
"In between those times, we perform at other people's community events," she said.
In the past six months, Parents Who Rock did a show at Yogi Berra Stadium, where they raise awareness for the food programs and collected food donations for the Human Needs Food Pantry; and performed at a show for Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless, or MESH, an interfaith group focused on homeless people, at the opening of the new South Park plaza.
Representing PWR, Schneider last year did a demonstration at Toni's Kitchen, which provides meals for people in need, to encourage the use of crock-pots, which allow for easy, healthy and inexpensive meals, and promoted local food-assistance programs through descriptive flyers featuring the dates and times when residents can volunteer and make donations.
Parents Who Rock has released its second CD, "Let 'Em Play," with proceeds from the sale benefiting Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit organization, which is working toward raising $50,000 to help increase music education in Montclair Public Schools.
Mayor Robert Jackson said the Parents Who Rock volunteers have made their mark on the community.
"Parents Who Rock is a critical component of Montclair's philanthropic tradition," Jackson noted.
"I am always amazed by these talented musicians who give up their time to help others," he said. "The rest of us can enjoy great music and contribute at the same time. Not bad."
Encouraged by the success of its Tom Petty tribute last month, Parents Who Rock is working on another event scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 28.
"We're partnering with Keller Williams Realty on a 'Kitchen Tool Exchange,'" Schneider said.
Montclair residents can donate new or unused kitchen tools and gadgets at the exchange where the items will be made available to other members of the community. Donors will also be able to pick items they might need.
"Everyone is welcome to the swap, and the leftover goods will be donated to the Soup Kitchen and Community Services program of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is in great need of kitchen/cooking supplies," Schneider said.
For more information about Parents Who Rock, visit www.parentswhorock.com or email Schneider at email@example.com.
Contact George Wirt at firstname.lastname@example.org.