Every week a sizeable group of men and women become American citizens here in St. Louis, individuals from as many as 46 countries, from Albania to Yugoslavia. In June, 2011 U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig asked her friend Alan Freed, an attorney and a singer, to sing the National Anthem at a naturalization ceremony. Alan, not wanting to sing solo, invited my daughter Leslie to join him, who in turn invited an alto and a tenor to participate. Voila, there was a quartet. They enjoyed the experience tremendously and other singers, hearing about the naturalization ceremony, volunteered to join them.  Today, they call themselves the Courthouse Singers and number two-dozen. 

Leslie, the group’s organizer, says attending the naturalization ceremony is very moving and emotional. The petitioners, who range in age from 18 to 92, have spent many hours studying to pass their naturalization test. At the courthouse with their families, they are thrilled to become new Americans — as are the presiding judges officiating these ceremonies. Leslie recalls an instance when the judge, moved by the solemnity of the occasion, said to the petitioners after they had been sworn in, “Now take a deep breath,” and all 55 did just that.  And the judge continued, “That, new Americans, is the breath of freedom.”

THREE DELIGHTFUL MUSICALS will be performed at Stages St. Louis next summer.  Season subscriptions just went on sale and can be gotten by calling 314-821-2407 or visiting stagesstlouis.org. The three shows are “They’re Playing Our Song,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” which you can bet will attract full houses.

RECENTLY, I RECEIVED a note from Cheryl Levey saying she had seen me with my rolling walker at the Women of Worth/Older Women’s League (OWL) event.  She explained her daughter, Marcy Tivol, had started a business around her creation called Coverz, which allows people to individualize and add “spunk” to their walkers. Coverz come in more than 30 colors and patterns. The one she sent me was a brilliantly colored and designed silk-like fabric that fit over the seat and the roll bar of the walker. The next day I decided to try it out when meeting a friend for lunch. The ladies playing Mahjong at a table next to us oohed and aahed and asked lots of questions about it. The truth is, I hate my walker with a passion, or at least I did until now. Suddenly, I am the belle of the ball with my colorful companion. For more information about Coverz, which runs about $30, call 530-426-8379 or visit walkercoverz.com

COCACABANA, COCA’s annual fundraising spectacular, is planned for April 25 but before that date there will be a Kickoff Party from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23 at the Log Cabin Club, 1140 Log Cabin Lane, off of Clayton Road. Besides a sneak peek at the spring gala, guests will enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and have an opportunity to reserve their place for the April event, which is expected to sell out. Contact Virginia Howell at vhowell@cocastl.org or 314-561-4870.

LIFT FOR LIFE ACADEMY, Marshall Cohen’s brilliant city charter school depends on contributions from people like you for many of its activities.  “Our programs are working,” says Marshall. “This year 97 percent of our seniors graduated.  Lift For Life Academy is the best performing charter high school in the city if St. Louis, based on the recent Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Report card.” He adds that at Lift for Life Academy, “students’ lives are transformed.  Failure is not an option.” To help with this remarkable educational endeavor, send your contribution to Lift For Life Academy, 1731 South Broadway, St. Louis, Mo. 63104 or call 314-231-2337.