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Live-streamed concerts also act as fundraisers for charity

Kevin Coates has been finding outlets to perform, including retirement homes. [Damon Maclean]

Avoid was created in musician Kevin Coates’ life when the COVID-19 crisis forced him to cancel concerts and tours set up for the remainder of the year. Despite that setback, the Waterloo resident found a way to continue performing, all the while raising awareness and funds for various organizations in the region.

A high school teacher for 32 years, Coates has also been a musician since the early ’80s. He taught both English and music, and now, a year and a half into his retirement, he’s “a full-time musician, and I get to perform constantly. I had 162 gigs booked this year that all fell through,” he said of the changing circumstances that have had an impact on all performers. 

With a musical style that’s melody- and lyric-based, he performs a mix of covers, with some originals thrown in. The piano is his primary instrument, though he plays others, and the keyboard has been central in his Facebook-streamed concerts to this point.

From his very first online performance, Coates urged those watching to contribute to community organizations, suggesting the food bank as a prime recipient.

Robert Maxwell, the owner of two Dairy Queens in Waterloo, decided it would be great to partner with Coates for a second concert. The two have been friends for many years, dating back to university days. “Kevin is the brother of my roommate at first year of Laurier.”

With contacts at the Child Witness Centre, Maxwell thought it was a great organization to support, offering to donate a certain amount for every viewer Coates garnered with his online shows.

 “If a child has witnessed something that is potentially violent or experienced themselves. It is a place they go to work through the court process to stand as a viable witness,” said Coates of the charitable group. 

Maxwell also suggested the third Facebook fundraiser/live stream concert. Maxwell decided it would be a good idea to partner with Food 4 Kids, a Waterloo organization that provides elementary school students with meals on weekends when programs such as school breakfast clubs aren’t available. The organization feeds 600 children, and during the pandemic need for the organization’s help has increased.

“It’s a fabulous platform because it gives everyone the opportunity to be part of the solution without feeling like what they are giving is not meaningful,” said Maxwell.

Kelly-Sue Oberle, Food 4 Kids’ executive director, said the fundraiser is a triad for the kids, the organization and for Coates’ talents.

“It’s awareness for the community for what’s going on; we are a small organization that is only three years old and is feeding 600 kids daily.

Coates is currently hoping to do a fundraising live stream and is looking for other businesses to partner with him, and for charities to support. Anyone looking to work with Coates can contact him through email at kevincoates4@icloud.com.

In addition to Coates’ Facebook streaming concerts, he has been performing outside of local retirement homes during the coronavirus crisis. These intimate events allow residents to sit outside and listen to Coates play music, interact during songs and listen to stories. 

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  1. I am David Morneau, the Executive Director of the Child Witness Centre. Thank you very much for taking the time to write about Kevin and Rob’s efforts in raising both awareness and money for some of the incredible organizations that serve some of the most vulnerable in our communities. We were so happy to partner with them in this endeavour and think it is truly a reflection of how a community can be resilient in the face of a crisis. So many organizations need these types of partnerships, particularly in uncertain times like this. Thank you again for recognizing their efforts!

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