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155-voice choir to sing in Surrey for autism group's dental program

Surrey Now Leader - 11/5/2019

A long-established Korean-Canadian choir will perform a sold-out concert in Surrey on Saturday night (Nov. 9) to benefit a dental program for kids and adults with autism spectrum disorder.

The 155-voice Vancouver Zion Mission Choir, active for more than 36 years, will fill Bell Performing Arts Centre with people and songs in a fundraiser for Pacific Autism Family Network.

All tickets for the by-donation event have been snapped up, said choir conductor Stephanie Chung.

"We expect 1,200 or 1,300 people there," said her husband Peter Chung, president of Vancouver Zion Mission Choir. "We like to leave it with people to decide what to pay, to donate from their heart and see the value in what we are raising money for."

The Surrey-based choir, which is "guided by the words of Christ to care for the poor," performs an annual benefit concert to raise money for a range of initiatives, including one in 2017 that saw proceeds go toward the purchase of advanced thoracic surgical equipment for Surrey Memorial Hospital.

This time around, the VZMC "is looking forward to taking the message of the love of God to the children who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families," along with the vocal talents of two Japanese choirs, Catteleya Chorus and Nav Chorus.

On Oct. 30, the Chungs were joined by Pacific Autism Family Network leaders Sergio Cocchia and Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, among others, at a media event held at Guildford's Sheraton hotel.

"We have shared interests and goals," Sergio Cocchia said, "and among those is creating dental opportunities for individuals on the spectrum."

In Richmond, Pacific Autism Family Network operates the GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub, a purpose-built, 60,000-square-foot facility designed to meet the unique needs of children, youth, families and adults with ASD.

"As much as we want to be able to serve thousands of families in the Lower Mainland," Cocchia said, "the true wealth of this program comes with connections to the college where we'll be training future dental assistants across the country to understand, be aware of and be compassionate to the needs of individuals on the spectrum, and their families."

The Nov. 9 concert will mark Vancouver Zion Mission Choir's first performance at Surrey's Bell theatre since the choir's creation in 1982.

"My son has autism, so for a personal reason this group is important," Stephanie Chung said. "We know that so many more people have autism spectrum disorder than in the past, and I think this benefit concert is popular because of that. It's about education as well as entertainment, and we will raise money for this important charity."

The choir rehearses at Grace Community Church, 9770 King George Blvd., Surrey.

 
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