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The Scranton Times-The Sunday Times
February 25, 2001 

Tenor To Receive Chaplains' Humanitarian Award

    John McDermott, the Irish tenor whose appearances on the Public Broadcasting System have endeared him to millions of viewers, will be honored with the Chapel of Four Chaplains' Humanitarian Award when he appears in concert in Scranton next month.
    Mr. McDermott rose seemingly overnight from relative obscurity to stardom in North America and beyond through his performances with The Irish Tenors on PBS.  However, he is not being honored for his musical talents but for his efforts to aid homeless veterans.
    Larry Babitts, Harrisburg, director of Veterans Employment and Training Programs in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Department of Labor, will make the presentation during Mr. McDermott's performance March 9 at the Scranton Cultural Center. Mr. Babitts is a 24-year, twice-wounded U.S. Army veteran of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars.
    Known as he is for his singing, Mr. McDermott in recent years also has been using his celebrity to endow the Hope McDermott House Fund in memory of his mother.  The fund provides shelter and other assistance to homeless veterans.  It is funded entirely by donations from the singer's fans around the world.
    Among the fund's achievements is the McDermott House in Washington, D.C., which houses as many as 27 formerly homeless veterans making the transition to self-sufficiency through the Department of Veterans Affairs' Compensated Work Therapy Program.
    Also, last Oct. 12 Mr. McDermott dedicated the Hope McDermott Day Program Center, a newly constructed annex of the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Boston.  Opening the annex, Mr. McDermott personally presented a check for $17,355.  The shelter honored him as its Man of the Year in October, 1999.
    The Chapel of Four Chaplains is an organization dedicated to keeping alive the ideals embodied in the sacrifice of four clergymen who died in the sinking of a troopship during World War II.  When the vessel went down four clergymen--a rabbi, two Protestant ministers and a Catholic priest--gave their life jackets to servicemen who had none.
    "I learned of John's work with veterans last fall when I met him at WVIA," said Francis X. McDonnell, retired Pennsylvania Department of Labor executive who has been honored by the chapel.  "When I learned of his coming to Scranton I submitted a recommendation for the Humanitarian Award to the Chapel board."
    Mr. McDonnell, a World War II veteran, extended an invitation to all northeastern Pennsylvania veterans to attend the performance and express their appreciation for Mr. McDermott's "outstanding work in behalf of veterans."
    Tickets are available at the Scranton Cultural Center on North Washington Avenue.
    Mr. McDermott established the Hope McDermott Fund after his mother died in January 2000.  his father died in 1995.  He memorializes his parents at each performance, on stage, with his father's cap and cane and his mother's scarf.  He attributes his special dedication to veterans to his mother, who recognized that the health and good fortune her family enjoyed were ensured by the sacrifice of her brother, Michael Griffin, who died in the battle for Bataan, and the service of her husband, Peter, in the Royal Air Force during World War II.