Three Eden Prairie High School seniors who have been friends since middle school are behind a fundraising concert on Sunday, Jan. 16, that will benefit The Bridge for Youth and its work with homeless teenagers in the Twin Cities area.
Karina Papa, Sreya Patri, and Anna Maristela have organized the concert, which is at 5-6 p.m. in the EPHS Performing Arts Center. There, ticket holders will hear performances of music ranging from classical to pop, from singers to instrumentalists. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased online. Donations can also be made online.
Gift cards and certificates donated by local businesses – ranging from free restaurant entrées to $150 Scheels gift cards – will be raffled off during the concert, and other donations will be solicited in order to increase proceeds.
The Bridge for Youth provides emergency shelter, supportive housing, and outreach and support to teens. Concert organizers like the holistic approach taken by the nonprofit.
“One thing that stood out about The Bridge for Youth is their focus on trying to empower the people they help,” said Maristela.
Their concern about teen homelessness grew not long after COVID-19 lockdowns took hold in March 2020. All three are interested in political science and keep up-to-date on current events, so they knew that job loss due to COVID would lead to tough financial times and even homelessness for families and teenagers.
“We used to sit in one of our cars together to eat lunch, so we were talking about it even then,” said Patri. “We really wanted a way to reach out to especially teenagers because they were affected by the crisis a lot.”
Their longtime friendship helped them navigate the many steps needed to organize the benefit concert, from attracting unpaid performers to finding sponsors and setting up online ticket sales.
It helped that all three are involved in music programs at EPHS. Patri is in the orchestra, and Papa and Maristela are in the band program. They pestered teachers to promote the effort, and even sought help and advice from the Eden Prairie A.M. Rotary Club, where Maristela is a student intern.
To get performers, said Patri, they posted flyers “in as many corners of the high school as we could.”
“And we also told the performers they would be supporting a good cause,” added Papa.
Most of the performing groups are composed of EPHS students, but the organizers encourage the wider community, young and old, to attend.
More information about The Bridge for Youth and its services to teenagers can be found on its website.
Mark Weber is executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation and the Eden Prairie A.M. Rotary Club mentioned in this article.