In search of meaningful volunteer work, Chicago bassist and composer Matt Geraghty first visited Deborah's Place in December of 2003. He selected this women's shelter after researching different programs where he could coordinate a group of volunteers to prepare meals for the residents.
Deborah's Place is Chicago's largest provider of supportive housing exclusively for women and is recognized as an innovative leader among homeless service providers locally and nationally. Marah's Transitional Housing Program, a program coordinated by Deborah's Place, offers a semi-structured environment where women who are homeless can enjoy the comfort of private bedrooms, while participating in communal meals and upkeep of a safe, shared living environment. Located at 1456 West Oakdale on Chicago's northside, women set individual goals, work with case managers, and use the on-site learning center as they prepare to meet their housing, employment and educational goals within two years.
Initially, Geraghty invited a small group of friends to join him with this monthly outreach effort and the response was overwhelming. What began as a monthly visit, evolved into helping to prepare and serve meals at Marah's two times each month. Two months into it, Geraghty discovered The Great Chapel on the second floor of the shelter. With a small altar, a piano, a balcony, beautiful stained glass windows and sound acoustical design, the space seemed optimal for music. Shortly after, The Matt Geraghty Project held a rehearsal and performed for the residents. They've been rehearsing there every Sunday at 4pm since, and the residents enjoy new compositions and a free live performance each week.
Several months ago, Marah's Place presented Matt Geraghty with a volunteer appreciation award to thank him for his unique and generous time commitment to the shelter The band members include: Marty Metzger (guitar), Lance Peterson (saxophone), Tim Mulvenna (percussion), and Major Seay (violin). Geraghty's talents have been showcased both as a leader and a sideman at Chicago's Green Mill, Milwaukee's Pabst Theater, and The Blue Room in Kansas City. His collaborations include performances with six-time Grammy Award-winning drummer Paul Wertico, Beyonce drummer Khari Parker, members of the Buena Vista Social Club, and performances around the world.
To interview a Marah's Place development coordinator or a resident, contact Melissa Klaas at (773) 348-9011.
Next performance: Uncommon Ground, Wednesday nights. 8pm, 1214 West Grace Street, Chicago. tel: 773-929-3680