Project Reach G.A.N.G. (God’s Anointed Now Generation), a Riceboro-based youth group from Liberty County, sang Sunday at the state capitol in Atlanta as part of the Georgia legislature’s prayer caucus.
The 32 members of the group, which formed as a choir in 1998, were invited to the caucus by State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, in July, Project Reach G.A.N.G. founder Lavonia LeCounte said. Five attendees are college students who previously belonged to the group and wanted to go to Atlanta for the event.
“We were nervous; we were excited,” LeCounte said of performing for lawmakers, including the new governor, Nathan Deal. “They were so professional, I was so godly proud of them.”
The group sang three of their original gospel songs, “Sing praise,” “He’ll be there,” and “I surrender,” for an audience of about 200 people. The songs came from the Project Reach CD, which was released in April 2010 and written by members of the group.
When the young men and women gathered in the lobby of their hotel, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriott, to rehearse before heading to the capitol, they caught more than a few curious glances from people passing through, LeCounte said.
A family who was at the hotel for a memorial service overheard the group practicing and said they sounded so beautiful they wanted Project Reach G.A.N.G. to sing at the memorial. The group agreed and sang briefly for the family at the service.
“Singing for the memorial service was very moving. The family of the deceased shed tears and held my hand as they listened to the songs of encouragement,” LeCounte said. “I felt and I know within my heart that we ministered to souls that were in need. We were in awe after it took place.”
The family hugged and kissed the young singers and thanked them for their support.
“I believe that family’s life was truly touched and they will always remember what happened,” LeCounte said. “It was evident because of their expression of thanks.”
Destiny LeCounte, 11, who went on the trip, said she had an enjoyable time and loved singing “He’ll be there.” She said she has been interested in singing for about half of her life.
“It was awesome because it was my first time going there,” the Lyman Hall Elementary student said of her journey to the Capitol. “It was pretty cool. I like to learn more stuff and see how it works. I would want to go again.”
Project Reach G.A.N.G. is a nonprofit organization that receives funds from Chemtall Inc., the Liberty County Health Department and various fundraisers.
“For these kids to go to Atlanta and provide this type of outreach to our state legislators speaks volumes about the work Project Reach is doing with our local youth,” said Deidre Howell, Liberty County Health Department administrator. “Additionally, for these kids to minister to our lawmakers through their music and talents is a blessing because the lawmakers are the ones who decide if adolescent health and youth development funding is going to be available from one year to the next. Our AHYD funding is always under scrutiny and I am hopeful that the legislators were able to get a better idea from Project Reach’s performance on how AHYD money is being spent in the communities. ”
LeCounte said she started the group to help young people obtain life skills and learn about health, wellness and education.
“It is for any youth desiring to do better. The best part about being the founder is being able to obey the force of God, because what I do is through his guidance. “And,” she added. “I love them [the members].”
In addition to touring the Capitol building, members of the group visited the World of Coca-Cola museum and Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home.