Mark Dvorak (Photo by Eric Young Smith)

Share Food Share Love Food Pantry, located at Faith Lutheran Church, 3801 Madison Ave., has been a presence in Brookfield for five years. They serve between 300-350 families each month, but that number has been growing during the pandemic, according to board member Linda Dumas, who spoke at a livestream fundraiser for the nonprofit, which is an agency of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. 

“Everyone needs help once in a while,” she said. And the number of families coming to the food pantry for help has been growing during the pandemic.”

Last week, the food pantry offered up a creative Zoom fundraiser, partnering with the nonprofit Music and Potlucks for an evening of entertainment with folk musician Mark Dvorak, who lives in Brookfield. 

The theme of the program on Monday, April 19, was “The People, Yes,” based on Carl Sandburg’s 1936 epic poetry book. 

Besides reading Sandburg’s poetry, Dvorak played folk music composed by Sandburg from his 1927 “The American Songbag.” Dvorak explained that Sandburg would give a poetry reading and end the night with one of his folk songs. 

Last week, the banjo-strumming singer played a variety of Sandburg songs from silly to sublime. The more than 20 in attendance bobbed their heads to the music and, at times, sang along, although on mute.

Dvorak’s admiration for the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and musician was evident.     

“I’ve been reading Carl since high school,” he said. “His book ‘The American Songbag’ was the first published collection of folk songs in America. It’s been on my shelf for years and years. ‘The American Songbag’ was a key resource to the early years of the folk revival in the 1950s and 60s.”

Because April is National Poetry Month, Dvorak suggested the Sandburg-themed program. He said he picked up a copy of “The Collected Poems of Carl Sandburg” about 25 years ago. Dvorak said he has “found [Sandburg’s] images and rhythms to be totally infectious.”

“I fell upon ‘The People, Yes’ sometime in the early 2000s and was really struck by it and decided to develop a program of songs, poems and stories based upon it,” Dvorak said. “Carl is an Illinoisan and spent a number of years in the Chicago area. He and his wife lived for a short time in Elmhurst before moving back to the city. He’s an interesting individual and an important artist. I’m amazed how well his verses and songs resonate all these years later.”

The event was free to attend and was sponsored by the Songs for Peace & Justice Fund. 

Music and Potlucks has put on more than 40 events in four years and Dvorak is their resident artist. Dvorak is a recording artist, working on his 19th CD release, as well as a traveling musician and long-time teacher at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. 

To donate or learn more about seeking help at the Share Food Share Love Food Pantry, which serves 15 villages in western Cook County, go to Donations, such as diapers, baby wipes, paper towels, toilet paper and laundry detergent are accepted at the food pantry. These items, and monetary donations, are needed more than food, which can be purchased at a discount from the Greater Chicago Food Depository.