By Kelsey Ryan
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
For Brayden Taylor “BT” Mathis, a 13-year-old who attends South Middle School, the best way to give back to the community is to share his passion: singing.
“I have a soft spot for kids who don’t have a family like I do,” Mathis said. “It just touches my heart to be able to relate to them in some way and support them.”
Mathis will put on a benefit concert Thursday night at his school for Children’s Haven of Southwest Missouri, 701 S. Picher Ave. Children’s Haven is a charitable, nonprofit organization that provides temporary care for children when their family has a crisis, be it substance abuse, lack of food or shelter, death or incarceration of a parent, or other things.
“I really feel like I relate to organizations with kids involved in it,” Mathis said. “I’ve performed for foster homes, and it’s really fun to go and meet the kids and talk with them about what I do and just to tell them that I’m praying for them.”
Children’s Haven has been open nine years and serves hundreds of area children every year, said Stephanie Theis, executive director. The organization has seen a jump in demand since the May 22 tornado, and recovery experts have told Theis to expect this high rate to continue for several years as families continue to get back on their feet.
“We want for families to know there are safe alternatives to putting (children) in stressful or unsafe situations,” Theis said. “I think it’s a neat thing for BT, a student in the Joplin school system, to be giving back to other students in his community.”
Theis said Children’s Haven would not be able to continue if it weren’t for residents and organizations putting on events to raise money.
Mathis said he’s always enjoyed singing, and he became more serious about it a year and a half ago with voice coaches and agents in Tulsa, Okla. Originally from Joplin, his family moved back to town after the May 22 tornado to be closer to relatives. His father, Tony Mathis, helped with search and rescue after the storm. When the family moved back, Tony Mathis brought with him his business, Game Time Sports, to 1605 E. 20th St.
The concert will consist of 11 cover songs in the pop genre, including selections from Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Mathis said he enjoys every genre of music, but he is partial to rhythm and blues. He plans someday to be a professional singer.
The benefit concert by Brayden Taylor “BT” Mathis for Children’s Haven will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at South Middle School, 900 E. 50th St. There is a minimum $2 donation at the door.