WALNUT CREEK -- In October 2011, a concert was held at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church to help raise money for a Chinese orphan, then a toddler, with a heart operation needed to make him healthy enough for adoption. The money raised -- about $6,800 -- also helped two other orphans near Beijing, China, receive similar needed surgeries.
The Four Graces harp ensemble performed at that concert, and will perform at a similar concert Jan Nieuwsma is helping organize. The Martinez woman was a driving force behind the 2011 concert, and is again at the forefront of an effort to raise money to help orphans -- this time, from the increasingly unsettled nation of Ukraine.
The Four Graces -- comprising four sisters -- will also perform at a June 8, concert at Hillside Covenant Church in Walnut Creek, a benefit to raise money to bring five Ukrainian orphans to Contra Costa this summer for a short stay that Nieuwsma and others hope turns into adoptions.
This time, the hope is to raise about $17,000, Nieuwsma said. The concert will feature a combination of jazz and pop with some vocal, as well as classical music.
The Nichols family, who adopted one of the Chinese orphans, hosted a young girl from the Ukraine named Tyna in summer 2013. They have since adopted her, Nieuwsma said, and were in Ukraine earlier this spring working on that process when the government there collapsed, and the Russian army invaded parts of the nation.
The Nieuwsma family is among those preparing to host the Ukraine orphans' visits this summer, the hope being that other families will meet the kids and want to adopt them. These orphans, unlike the Chinese children, do not need surgeries or require any special medical attention, but Nieuwsma said the situations are otherwise similar.
"Our intention is to help orphans whenever we are presented with a need, whether it be raising funds for surgeries, hosting, or helping to facilitate an adoption," she said this week. "We're just a group of families that have a heart for the plight of orphans around the world."