An Okotoks musician isn’t looking for fame and fortune with the release of his first album — he is just trying to help others get through these tough COVID times.
“It’s to help people through the pandemic,” Mark Thomson said. “It’s for comfort. I had a lot of anxiety and depression in my life, but I found that playing hymns keeps me motivated and positive and it uplifts me and draws me closer to God.
“It’s wanting to give support back to the community.”
Mark Thomson, 26, has released a collection of gospel hymns on his keyboard on his album entitled Peace, Hope and Comfort. The album is free but if anyone wishes to make a donation it will go to FAIMS – the Foothills Advocacy in Motion Society.
Foothills AIM Society is a non-profit organization that provides special needs adults with work and a place to live in an effort to keep them in their home community. FAIMS has offices in Okotoks, High River and Strathmore and has approximately 135 clients in total.
Thomson has been a FAIMS client since 2016 and he misses his work and his FAIMS family due to the COVID restrictions.
“The Foothills AIM Society has been helping me and all of us clients succeed,” Thomson said. “They have helped all of us find work. It’s been difficult for a lot of us because we have been closed since December 2020.
“For a lot of us clients FAIMS is all we have for work... I hope they open soon and that they don’t close again... We have literally been praying that things get back to normal.”
He’s had plenty of preparation for his album.
At present, he is playing hymns every Sunday at the Okotoks Grace Lutheran Church. Thomson is a 2014 graduate of Holy Trinity Academy where he helped with the boys’ volleyball team and every Friday he would play O Canada at the school’s atrium on his Melodica.
He has chosen hymns for the album that are close to him.
“I have quite a lot of hymns that are important to me,” Thomson said. “They are special to me because I played it at my granny’s funeral.”
Brad Fowler, the employment and day service manager at the Okotoks FAIMS office, is overwhelmed by Thomson’s effort.
“This is 100 per cent by him – all during the pandemic,” Fowler said. “He is doing it for a source for inspiration for others because he knows people are struggling. He turned it into a fundraiser for us totally on his own... We are very touched that our work with Mark is so important to him. This is very confirming for us.
“He’s an amazing young man that we are so proud to support — he cares about others, an all-around good man."
Thomson is a musician who literally delivers on his music.
“I would be more than willing to drop off CDs and memory sticks on people's doorsteps and in their mailbox to maintain that physical distancing,” Thomson wrote in an email. “I am giving them away for free for whoever wants a copy. If people in the community want to make a donation I am asking that the funds go to www.faims.org where us special needs clients work in the communities of Okotoks, High River and Strathmore.”
Anyone seeking a CD or memory stick of Thomson’s Peace, Hope and Comfort can email him at email@example.com