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Blessings Music Fest honors those who give to the community and raises food for hungry

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent


LORAIN: Rain did not turn away the few hundred faithfuls that turned out to the Blessings Music Festival this year – a festival meant to inspire and honor those who selflessly give back to their communities.

Lou Acosta, Lorain Mayor Anthony Krasienko and Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair on stage giving awards.


Over 30-musical groups performed and over two-dozen groups or individuals were recognized for their religious or civic outreach at the 8th annual Blessings Music and Awards Festival in Sandusky and Lorain, Aug. 21 – 22, 2009.


The festival is meant to honor those who have reached out into their communities through social service or educational programs, and church organizations as well as to raise food for the hungry, said Lou Acosta, creator of the festival and awards ceremony, and Lorain’s House of Praise International Church member.


Monetary donations or canned goods were accepted at the festival’s two-day event; proceeds went to Lorain’s Salvation Army, the Love Center Cupboard Food Pantry, the Rapha Center for Health and Healing, and the Heartbeat of Sandusky Pregnancy Center and Maternity Home.


“If someone is reaching out because they want to help, that’s outreach; we want to recognize that,” Acosta, of Puerto Rican descent and publisher of various regional newspapers and magazines. “If somebody who needs food or needs clothes or needs their electricity paid and someone’s helping, we just want to give them a pat on the back and make sure everyone knows what they are doing,” he said.


Acosta also said the festival’s purpose is to unite different denominations through music.


The 2nd awards ceremony – the first took place in 2005, was held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Lorain’s Black River Landing.

Lorain Mayor Anthony Krasienko said Lorain continues to hold onto its religious heritage. Krasienko said Lorain’s Reid Street was once filled with churches – at one point one of the largest to do so in the country.


All 30 recipients recognized received a crystal plaque award.

Emanuel's Praise and Worship Team sings.

Endtime Worship band and Lorain’s Templo Emanuel church Praise and Worship Team were among the musical performers ranging from urban, contemporary, Latin jazz, jazz, praise, gospel, southern gospel, and hip hop, that entertained over the two-day festival.


Motivational Speaker Yvonne Pointer, founder of The Women’s Midnight Basketball and Positive Plus in Cleveland, told the crowd of roughly 200 people to not lose faith even in the gloomy times. Pointer said her daughter was raped and murdered on Dec. 6, 1984 while walking to school. At first she was devastated and wondered if God had deserted her, she said. But she found the strength to continue her life, and now speaks and encourages both women and men across the nation and world, she said.


“In the midst of your trials, Jesus is right there,” Pointer said “God took a tragedy and turned it around. God has something new in store for you but God can’t provide it until something else ends,” she said.


Mayor Krasienko and Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair, who received a regional award herself, presented the awards.


The honored included: the Elyria Ministerial Alliance, for Local Scholarship outreach; the Cornerstone For Women Outreach Pregnancy Center, Local Women’s Outreach; Taste of South Second Baptist Church, Local Church Social Unity Outreach; John Beckett, Local Outreach in Business; Lorain, Elyria Salvation Army for Local Social Service Outreach; Dr. Roy Church and the Lorain County Community College, Local Unity in Education; Family Four Square Church of Amherst, Church on the NorthCoast and Church of the Open Door, Local Weekly Prayer Venues; Body of Believers, Local Church Unity in Evangelistic Outreach; Minister Joel Reichlin, Local Male Evangelistic Outreach; Nadine Ross, Local Female Evangelistic Outreach; Angel Arroyo Jr., Local Youth Evangelistic Outreach; Living Free, CHAOG, Local Drug Free Educational Outreach; LCADA, Inc., Local Drug Rehab; David Scott, Local Prison Evangelistic Outreach; Mike Ferrer of Urban League, Local Youth Social Outreach programs; El Centro Social Services Senior Program, Local Seniors Outreach program; Tim Williams of YWCA, Local Youth Outreach Events; WGGN TV 52 and WJTB 1040 AM, Local Media Outreach; and Community Health Partners Parish Nurses Program, Local Health Outreach.

Local politicians also were honored for their contributions including: Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair and Sheffield Village Mayor John D. Hunter. Blair was in attendance; Sheffield Village Police Chief Larry Bliss received the award on Hunter’s behalf.


Others honored included: the speaker Yvonne Pointer of Positive Plus, regional award for a motivational speaker; and Regional Awards went to the Pastors Outreach to Unify Churches: Larry Macon, Rev. CJ Matthews, Joe Savage, and Pastor Massaglia.


Also receiving awards were Pastor Chuck Howard and Pastor Luis Pizarro, known as ‘Lil Pito.’

Motivational Speaker Yvonne Pointer, of Women’s Midnight Basketball and Positive Plus in Cleveland, speaks to the crowd.

People’s Choice Awards recipients of 2005 through 2008 went to: Templo Emanuel, the Church of the NorthCoast Praise Team, Progany 5219 from Cleveland, and Endtime Worship. The audience would choose their 2009 choice at the festival.


The award “Drug Free through Christ” honored the founders of the program: Minister Freddie García and Bishop Hannibal of the Body of Christ. That award honored a person who turned away from drugs, alcohol or a prison, said Acosta.


The recipients of the awards repeated that it was time to unite and fight against drugs and alcohol and reunite families.


“This is quite an honor. We’re thrilled you thought about us,” said Maureen White, of the Key Lacada, Inc., a drug rehabilitation facility.


Angel Arroyo Jr., honored for his youth evangelistic outreach said “The outreach that I do is with the kids on the street,” adding “Don’t make your situation the outcome of your life,” he said.


The Blessings Festival had included a bi-monthly Blessings Magazine that was used for evangelistic outreach into prisons and drug centers that started in 2003. But it folded in 2007. Acosta said he plans to bring back the magazine as early as October of this year. He added, this time the ministries or churches would fund it.


A “Walls of Jericho” Walk-a-thon took place at 8 a.m. Saturday in Lorain to raise funds for the Rapha Center. Men and women’s prayer groups prayed at 9 a.m.


Gaitha Johnson, who listened to speaker Pointer and the bands, said she was not going to let some rain turn her away. “I’m here for the Lord,” she said.


“It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, didn’t it?” Johnson said “What can stop us now?”


Endtime Worship band performs.





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