SOMERVILLE, NJ - Guitarist David Dedrick worked off his play list, took requests and played from his heart Saturday night during a solo performance streamed live on Facebook to help raise money for the Front Line Appreciation Group of Somerville.
FLAG of Somerville, launched just a few weeks ago by borough residents Shawn Temple and Irene Caldarano, has been supporting health care workers at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital/Somerset and first responders with meals purchased with donations from local restaurants.
Dedrick's two-hour set raised $1,665 in donations as of early Sunday morning; his contribution from "Sing for Their Supper" pushed the total collected by FLAG since its inception to $13,434, according to Temple.
That money has been spent purchasing meals from 34 restaurants in 10 towns, including several in downtown Somerville - The Salad House, Mannion's Pub & Restaurant, Verve Restaurant, Bar& Bistro, Project P.U.B. and others. Many of the restaurant owners add to the donation with extra trays of food, sandwiches and sides, according to Temple.
Temple also launched a donation program on the Sign Up Genius online platform, which allows donors to make larger orders for 20 or more, usually a specific unit at the hospital, or for specific individuals, unlike the money donated to FLAG, which is used to buy meals for unspecified staff at the hospital.
“This is a great way for us to come together as a community, to share our time, talents and resources, to help restaurants that are struggling during this time and the people on the front line,” said Temple. “Having artists donating their talent to further this cause and give people a way to celebrate together adds a beautiful other dimension to the work we are doing.”
One of the highlights of the evening was a request from nurses and doctors at RWJUH/Somerset who were listening; they asked Dedrick to perform the Beatles' song "Here Comes the Sun." which has become a signature song at the hospital - played for those patients who have recovered from the COVID-19 virus as they are being discharged from the hospital.
Touched by the moment, Dedrick's voice choked as he relayed that message to those watching.
"That was so wonderful, it meant so much to them." Temple said.
Dedrick's performance was recorded and can be seen online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FLAGSOMERVILLE/
“The restaurants are hidden victims in this crisis. Their businesses thrive on local support. The community is a sense of family. Being able to help them out is a tremendous boost for these small-business owners and their employees,” Dedrick says. “People appreciate the heroic service being given by health care workers and FLAG gives them a way to show that appreciation while boosting the local economy.”
Contributions to FLAG can be made through paypal.me/FLAGSOMERVILLE.