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As refreshing as Pepsi?

West Linn Community Chorus is vying to win $5,000 in a contest but they need your votes this week
by: VERN UYETAKE West Linn Community Chorus members Donna Lukacs and Dell Smith take time out of their day to meet at the West Linn Adult Community Center. Members of the nearly 70-person choir say they are all good friends.

What do you find refreshing?

The nearly 70 members of the West Linn Community Chorus said their joyful singing to those in assisted living centers is bubbly, uplifting and a sweet treat - just like an ice-cold Pepsi.

In fact, the group is entered in the Pepsi Refresh Project, and through the online contest, the soda company could shell out $5,000 in its name. Competing against other ideas 'to refresh the world,' the chorus needs your vote to win, members said. As of press time, the group was ranked 56 out of 123 refreshing ideas in the arts and music category of the contest, which includes publishing the work of inner-city youth poets, making blankets for children in the hospital and teaching Native American bead work.

The top 20 ideas get funding, according to the contest website.

To vote for the chorus, visit www.refresheverything.com/westlinnchorus and vote by May 31. If chosen, the group plans to use the prize money by allotting $450 for rehearsal space; $2,850 to pay the director and accompanist for rehearsals; $560 to order sheet music; and $1,140 to pay the director and accompanist for their performances. They might also use money to purchase a sound system.

Longtime member Dell Smith said, 'We're like a family. Everybody just loves to sing and we want to share that.'

Smith is also a member of the popular barbershop quartet, a sub-group in the choir that performs 'the standards, 50s rock and roll and The Beach Boys.' Its uplifting tunes - like Daniel O'Donnell's 'My Wild Irish Rose' - can be heard at the group's official webpage, http://westlinnchorus.org/.

Group members said their songs bring joy to the lives of senior citizens, as music has many health benefits including improving cognition and memory function.

For 11 years the choir - made up of men and women from surrounding cities that practice at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in West Linn - has performed at local schools, community events, holiday festivities and at assisted living centers.

Group member Donna Lukacs said the group practices each Thursday and anyone can join, but there is a fee.

'Anyone who wants to get involved can show up at the beginning of each season and get a little preview,' she said.

But those that would just like to hear them perform should get their votes in and check them out live. The group's next free concert is at 2 p.m. June 18 at the Provincial House Chapel at Mary's Woods at Marylhurst - 17400 Holy Names Drive in Lake Oswego.

'We're like family; you can't go in (to practice) without feeling that,' Smith said.