Margaret Tusz-King, the executive director of the Open Sky Co-operative Ltd, left, Peter Butler, the director of the MetroTones, centre, and Pat Dickie, the choir’s co-director, get together to plan the MetroTones’ 18th annual fundraising concert. PHOTO: SARAH SEELEY/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT
The voices of over 80 singers will be helping young adults with autism and mental illness find employment after high school.
T h e M e t ro To n e s w i l l h o l d their 18th annual fundraising concert at the Moncton Wesleyan Saturday night.
Every year the community choir votes on a local charity to support and this year they are raising money for Open Sky Co-operative Ltd. The non-profit organization, based on an organic farm in Sackville,provides training for social and employment skills for adults who face barriers.
Margaret Tusz-King,executive director of Open Sky, said teenagers with autism often don’t have the social or organizational skills to thrive in a workplace so their future can be limited.
“If you have a disability like autism, your whole journey in life is a different roadmap than others,”she said.“It’s a huge setback when you have a bright young person and there’s nothing after high school.”
Open Sky encourages its participants to be entrepreneurial and create their own business opportunities. The organization’s programs give the adults a sense of independence as they earn an income.
“It’s a business that allows you to come in and do the kind of work you want to do on your own terms,”she said.
The non-profit has five people who come on a regular basis for day programs, one person living in residence on the farm and 15 people working on vocational services.
Tusz-King met one of the Meto-Tones members at a social function and the choir member invited her to present to the choir to talk about the organization.
She sent one of the Open Sky participants to speak to the choral group and they voted in favour of supporting the charity.
“It was very moving,” Pat Dickie, the choir’s co-director said.
Over the years, the Metrotones have raised over $300,000 for non-profit groups like Project Linus, The Karing Kitchen and Sistema.
The theme for this year’s concert is “The Best of the MetroTones,” featuring classic songs like“Climb Every Mountain,”“Bridge Over Troubled Waters”and “You Raise Me Up.”
Tusz-King was touched Open Sky was chosen. She said she admires the choir members for volunteering their time and voices to help local charities.
“This is a group of angels,”she said.
•SARAH SEELEY TIMES & TRANSCRIPT