Singing Rainbows Brighten The Lives Of Less Fortunate

March 03, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Contributing writer

Like rainbows, members of a Harford County vocal group -- with that name -- hope their songs of patriotism, God and fun bring a sense of happiness to others.

"When you see a rainbow, it makes you think of something happy," said Mary Ann McLaughlin, one of the founders of Rainbows. "We just all kind of liked that name -- we hope that by giving of ourselves, we're making people happy."

The Jarrettsville-based group, composed of eight Harford County residents and four people from neighboring communities, recently performed songs and skits at Rock Spring Village, an assisted-living residence in Forest Hill.

"The (residents) absolutely loved them," saidJimmi Reichard, social director. "They're a very fun-loving and caring group. They don't only perform but they reach out to the group. They're very warm people."

Rainbows, whose members range in age from20 to 60, have performed their repertoire of gospel, pop and standards at Rock Spring Village twice. They've also performed two shows at nursing homes just over the border in Pennsylvania.

"We're not professionals," said McLaughlin, a housewife who lives in Delta, Pa. "We're just a group that likes to entertain and have fun. Most of the songs we do are very enjoyable for our audience."

McLaughlin and Marlene Freburger are former members of a church choral group. They leftthe church group last fall to form Rainbows, which they say allows them to perform a wider variety of music. They include religious musicin their shows, though.

"We didn't want to stop what we were doing," Freburger said. "We both have these talents and wanted to put them to good use. Our group kind of grew from there."

McLaughlin has been singing and dancing since she was 4 years old. She served as music director at St. Mary's Church in Pylesville for three years.

"We started Rainbows for old folks," said the 48-year-old mother of twogrown children. "It's just an opportunity to give of ourselves and our time."

The group likes to include polkas and sing-a-longs in their show to get the audience involved. Group members often mingle with the audience, encouraging people to polka, clap hands or sing.

The recent performance at Rock Spring Village prompted at least two residents to stand after the show and offer a slew of accolades.

"You really have warmed a lot of hearts here. Thanks for coming," said Nona Rodier, a retired telephone company manager who didn't want to give her age.

"I have been here six months, and this has just been the greatest," said Donald Wallace, an 82-year-old retired civilian worker at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The group is trying to schedule at least one show a month. They have received requests from nursing homes in Forest Hill and Havre de Grace. They do not charge for shows.

Freburger says Rainbows hopes to broaden its repertoire to appeal to children. She envisions singing songs from "Mary Poppins," for instance.

"We're working on new songs," the 40-year-old says. "We'd like to have something for all age groups."

Rainbows is looking formore members with musical talents. For more information, readers maycall McLaughlin: (717) 456-5832 or Freburger: 557-8051.

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