Eight local singers will be vying to be the second winner of The Choice Singing Competition. The contest is to be hosted by House of Eli, a local home for men ages 17-21.
The event will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Sherman Municipal Ballroom. Tickets, which are $20 for non-alcohol consuming event goers and $35 for individuals wishing to partake in beer or wine, are available at Sherman businesses Glitzy Girls Boutique, Sandi’s Boutique, MG’s and the office of Mark Dickson.
“This was the brainchild of our director Tawni Hodge and Melida Ailshire were talking one day about the fact that they wanted to do something different that we did not have here in Grayson County,” organizer Theresa Dickson said on Saturday. “I think Melida suggested it and Tawni ran with it. We tried it out last year not knowing how it would turn out. We set up 200 chairs in the municipal building, not knowing if that would be enough. We ended up having to add chairs because the people came out in droves. For a first time event, we had no idea. It turned out great and everyone had a good time.”
The youngest contestant is 10-year-old Mary Clare Foley. New and returning contestants are Isabel Pena, BJ Guimbellot, Shannon Winkler, Doni Lee Coppla, Bryan Ezell, Kassie Shaw and Jacob Peters. The DJ and emcee will be Jason Taylor.
There will be food, beer and wine available at the event.
“We are only doing that at intermission though so it is not really a party atmosphere,” Dickson said. “We are there to hear some great singing and to support House of Eli.”
House of Eli is a residential home for young men ages 17-21 who are homeless, in the juvenile justice system or have aged out of foster care.
“We keep them for one year and try to teach them what it takes to live as an adult,” Dickson said. “We try to teach them how to budget, how to find skills, and with GEDs. We keep anywhere between six to nine boys at any give times.”
Currently, the home has eight young men, and each are allowed to stay in the home for a year.
“Last fall, we bought our first house and we have been renovating it,” Dickson said. “They have been doing drywall and painting and other things that are necessary to rebuild a house. The house will be ready in a week or two. We have now purchased another house and so they will be moving on and working on the next house. The hope is that we can make a little bit of money and the continued income stream for the home, and give the boys skill sets. They are also paid. They are building a resume for the things that they are doing.”
While the program is Christian-based, it is not denominational. House of Eli does not receive government funding and all resources are attained through grants, donations and fundraising.
In 2018, The Choice event earned House of Eli about $10,000. This year, the event has doubled what it brought in last year and Dickson hopes that in the next week, revenue will increase even more.
“We are blessed that right now we have about $20,000 in sponsorships,” she said. “The event has basically been underwritten. We want to keep on track and keep doubling. And, eventually if this continues to build the way it has in the last year, we may have to move the event to a bigger space.”