By Michael J. ARVIZU
First Baptist Church of La Crescenta held the first of two Concerts Under the Stars on Sunday night. The concert was held to promote the activities of the Crescenta Valley Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition (CVDAPC), which hopes to create awareness of drug issues in the community.
Sunday night’s concert featured the gypsy sounds of Café Fuego, in addition to gourmet food provided by local food trucks. An estimated 250 people attended the event.
First Baptist Church of La Crescenta Pastor Bill Flanders touted the event as an opportunity for the community to come together and support a local organization through free-will donations. His church’s spacious outdoor patio, Flanders said, is conducive to the outdoor concerts and offers a venue for the community to socialize.
“We thought this would be a great venue to provide community awareness of the coalition,” said Flanders. “It’s not as well known as we’d like it to be. So this provides us a venue to get the word out about what the coalition is all about.”
CVDAPC works with other community organizations such as the Crescenta Valley Armenian Center, Verdugo Hills Hospital, Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber, and YMCA of the Foothills, among others, to “move together and make changes within our community,” said CVDAPC president and eight-year Glendale Police Dept. veteran Detective Matt Zakarian. (The Crescenta Valley Weekly also works with CVDAPC; and Crescenta Valley Weekly reporter Mary O’Keefe serves on the board of directors.)
“The coalition was formed as a united effort to try to create an alliance with the community,” Zakarian said. “We look for gaps in services, and gaps in areas where the community is not knowledgeable about what’s happening with drug and alcohol prevention.”
Founded in 2010, the coalition also helps to support parents in cases where youth might be at risk of abusing drugs or alcohol.
“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” Zakarian said. “There’s no in-between. When the community comes together, we share problems, we share solutions.
That’s how we make change.”
The concerts are held with no agenda in mind, said event organizer and First Baptist Church of La Crescenta Worship and Music pastor Emanuel David.
“We’re not trying to push an idea. We just want people to connect,” he said. “We want to create an event where the people in this community can just come, hang out, and get to know each other and connect. I think we did that this evening.”
The next Concert Under the Stars program will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 and will feature a Brazilian jazz band. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call the church at (818) 249-5832, or visit www.fblc.org.
“I thought the event was lovely,” said concertgoer Lisa Langley of La Crescenta. “It felt like we were in a different place. The music and the conversation and the food made it feel like a mini-vacation. I got to visit with people I hadn’t seen in a while.”