After much anticipation, the wait is finally over! Up with People has arrived in Fort Myers.
On Monday afternoon, the 120 international students from 20 different countries arrived from Lakeland, Florida, where they spent the last four weeks learning the new show, Voices. The police and fire department escorted them from the Shell Factory to the Alliance for the Arts, where they were welcomed by Mayor Henderson.
In the evening, dozens of host families eagerly greeted their “adopted” family members with canned food items and personal products as host codes, part of the group’s initiative to donate to the local soup kitchen, Community Cooperative Ministries Incorporated (CCMI). Families held up cans of beans, toothbrushes, and backpacks to identify themselves to their respective host “sons” or “daughters.”
“This is a unique way for host families and students to meet each other and break the initial ice,” says Host Family Coordinator, Lorna Murphy. “Before this day, host families have no idea who they will host in their homes for a week, so it’s a fun surprise! Plus, we are happy to double-up and make this a donation drive for CCMI as well.”
CCMI is also one of the sites where the students will volunteers during their one week stay in Fort Myers. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 120 students are divided up into groups to work at eight different community service sites: Harry Chapin Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, HOPE Clubhouse, Children’s Network, Quality Life Center, Alliance for the Arts, ACT, and Beauty from Ashes.
The Spring tour will take the students to twenty different cities in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and Cuba. Community Impact Projects differ in each city, according to the local community’s specific needs.
“I’m thrilled to be here”, said 19-year old Giselle Carrasco from Mexico. “I’m looking forward to learning about Fort Myers and making a positive impact through my volunteer work and through our show, which gives a message of hope and peace.”
Up with People’s all-new show, Voices, features the energy and talent of the cast of 120 representing 20 different countries. It is a live two-hour performance inspired and motivated by recent worldwide events and features medleys of popular music, international music and of course, Up with People original music… all with a dynamic blend of feature soloists, full cast production numbers, fast-moving choreography and colorful costumes.
The aim is to leave the audience feeling empowered to connect, communicate and create positive change in their communities; to rise above the noises, and listen to the voices of the world.
Proceeds from the show are donated back to the community. In Fort Myers, there are four beneficiaries: Harry Chapin Food Bank, Alliance for the Arts, Edison Festival of Light, and CCMI.
There will be two performances at North Fort Myers High School on Sunday, February 17. The shows are at 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. Tickets cost just $15 for adults, $10 for students, seniors, and children, $45 for a Family 4-Pack, and $50 for VIP Patrons. They can be purchased at the Alliance for the Arts, North Fort Myers High School and online at www.upwithpeople.org/fortmyers.
In addition, the international group will have the privilege of participating in the Edison Festival of Light Parade, happening on Saturday, February 16.
Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, CLK Festivities, and Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) are sponsors for Up with People’s visit. The media sponsors for the event are Renda Broadcasting, Waterman Broadcasting, and the News-Press Media Group.