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Arts and Entertainment

Video: Veteran And Long-Time Skid Row Resident Finds Strength In Music

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A video shares the story of Don Garza, a veteran and long-time Skid Row resident who has suffered PSTD and found strength in music. He will sing along with Handel's "Messiah" when it is presented for the first time ever on Skid Row next month.

The video Messiah Project comes from Street Symphony, a group that does outreach via classical music to inmates and homeless, and Metcalf Productions. The six-minute video follows the xstory of Don Garza. Garza has lived in Skid Row for 11 years, on the streets and currently, in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) housing. Garza was once a U.S. Marine who served in Desert Storm. When he returned, his family did not welcome him home, so he continued to serve at Camp Foster in Okinawa, the video states. Garza suffered from PTSD and received no treatment. Instead, he was put in solitary confinement for seven months. He has also been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

"When you have an illness that you can't see… people are very hard and very judgmental toward you," he says.

Garza found physical strength through a partnership with a gym owner, who allowed him to work out for free in exchange for help around the gym. But for mental strength, he turned to Handel's "Messiah" because of the words and instruments "that have a healing and soothing effect." Composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741, the best known part of the work is the "Hallelujah Chorus" that ends Part II. Garza says he hopes that singing the choruses of "Messiah" in an upcoming performance will also bring comfort to others on Skid Row who are suffering.

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The performance will take place on Friday, December 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. at The Midnight Mission's gym. Anyone who would like to can sing along with members of the Street Symphony Chamber Singers comprised of LA Master Chorale, the Urban Voices Project and City of Angels Community Choirs. You may also volunteer to hand out hygiene kits and water, or to set up chairs.

You can see the groups rehearsing for the performance in the video below: