WALLA WALLA - In an effort to reach out to the Meza family who lost their home in a fire a few weeks ago, a local men's group is organizing a benefit dance for Saturday. The fire took not only their home, but also the life of 6-year-old Malani Meza.
Juntos, meaning together in Spanish, is a men's group who began working together over the past few years. It aims to work with young men in the Valley and give them alternatives to gang involvement.
The dance benefit project falls outside of its main goal, but the group is committed to helping the family.
Juntos first worked with the Meza family in July, when the Milton-Freewater family hosted one of Juntos' first projects: a benefit concert. The family's backyard was filled with kids and the concert was a success. For some of the members of Juntos, hearing about the tragic fire hit home.
"We are all parents," said Jose Quijano. "It makes you realize that we could all be in the position."
Jorge Mancha, a member of Juntos, has known Marilu Meza, or Mari, since they were children.
"Any parent that loses a child, you feel sorry for them. But it's different when you know them," Mancha said.
Juntos has teamed up with KHSS Catholic Radio to make the benefit dance possible. Radio host Adan Escobar will host the event and has helped arrange live music. "La Realidad" from Tri-Cities and "Los Mismos" from Walla Walla will provide music for the dance.
Walla Walla Home Medical is donating some funds, and Coca-Cola is donating refreshments.
All proceeds raised will be given to the Meza family.
"It's nice to know that we live in a community that lifts people up," said Mancha. "Bottom line, she is in need and we can help. I'm just fortunate enough to have a group of friends who will back me up."
if you go
- What: Benefit Dance.
- Where: Assumption Catholic Church, 2098 E. Alder St.
- When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
- Cost: $15 per couple, $10 per individual.
- Who: Age 21-plus.