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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 9, 2006

Parents leading push to rescue Boy Choir

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Parents who are trying to save the Honolulu Boy Choir are calling for community support to keep the choir from being disbanded.

Yesterday, the choir's parents committee announced that an anonymous donor has offered the committee $25,000 if it can raise matching funds. The committee hopes to get similar support from corporate or government interests.

The committee is considering a benefit concert.

Twice-weekly choir practices on hiatus since December resumed yesterday at Makiki Christian Church.

"We wanted to put the boys back on the schedule. ... At this point, we're normally already a month into (the season's) practices," said Carlson Mun, a parent committee member whose son is in the choir. "We just want to make sure they know that something's going on and we're still trying for them."

The Advertiser reported last week that the 32-year-old choir was in financial trouble. Board members told parents the choir would shut down on May 30, when its current liability insurance policy expired. Concerned parents stepped in and offered to create a business plan to keep the choir in operation, hoping to convince the choir's board of directors to hand over the organization.

"We've gotten a lot of calls in support of continuing the boy choir. And we've had a couple of meetings ourselves (about) how we're going to put this plan together. But we're really at the early stages of this," said Michelle Saito, head of the parent committee.

"What's really been encouraging is seeing that this really isn't just something that we as parents want; this is something the greater community wants," she said.

The board has estimated choir expenses at $150,000 annually. Board chair Jean Rolles told The Advertiser last week that the board would consider distributing the choir's name and assets to the group if they could come up with a plan that assured the choir long-term financial stability.

The 75-member, nonprofit choir was founded in 1974, and is open to boys ages 7 to 14. Its members do not have to pay to participate. Over the years, the choir has relied on fundraisers and donations for financial support.

"(Saito) has been getting a lot of calls from people and groups who don't want to let it die. That's very encouraging," said Mun. "It's a big job. There's no question about it. But people are stepping up to it."

Those wanting to help with donations or get involved with helping the choir draft its business plan are invited to call Saito at 542-4736.

"We really want to have long-term commitments, so that we're not having to approach this every year like this," said Saito. "We're going to try to come up with a solid plan that's going to last us three to five years out."

Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.