An opportunity to encounter a truly distinct music and cultural experience presents itself when "Tres Vidas" hits the stage at the Dodge City Community College Little Theater, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas and United Way of Dodge City are teaming up to present "Tres Vidas" – a unique blend of chamber musical theater that features a vividly stylistic range of Argentine, Salvadoran, and Mexican popular and folk music weaved into narrative, soliloquy, and lyrics.

The event is part of the DCCC International Club’s weeklong celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The club is hosting events on the college campus all week Sept. 17-21.

The text of "Tres Vidas" tells the stories of three legendary Latin American icons: Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya, and Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni.

"Our purpose is to raise cultural awareness in the community and on campus," said International Club president Maria Gonzalez. "It’s a pretty powerful performance. These are very iconic figures in Latino culture."

Gayle Ausmus, executive director of United Way of Dodge City, said her group is working to strengthen the Dodge City community by positively impacting its health, education, and self-sufficiency.

"We are excited to be a part of bringing "Tres Vidas" to the community," Ausmus said. "United Way sees this as a great way to engage and celebrate the many diverse cultures that proudly make up our world. United Way strives to be a model of diversity and inclusion. The show is based on the lives of three legendary Latin American women. We respect and value the unique attributes, characteristics, and perspectives that each of these women will bring to the stage. "Tres Vidas" further strengthens the community through art education that unites, engages, and educates."

The United Way of Dodge City is a local, nonprofit organization that endeavors to bring the community together to identify critical issues and create lasting solutions. To do so, United Way raises charitable contributions, forges partnerships, advocates for change, and invests in programs and services that deliver measurable results for building a stronger community.

United Way is committed to making a difference through funding community impact programs and 16 partner agencies – including the DCCC Adult Learning Center and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

The production is part of The Core Ensemble group.

Founded in 1993, The Core Ensemble has been acclaimed as a developer of new chamber music theater genres featuring the unique instrumental combination of cello, piano, and percussion – accompanied by a cultural minstrel performing spoken and sung verse.

The Core Ensemble travels the country putting on a handful of different productions that focus on notable cultural and ethnic heritage figures representative of broader political, gender, and racial journeys. The group is deeply committed to reaching a wide geographic and demographic range of audiences.

The Community Foundation uses resources from several different southwest Kansas community funds to support grants and scholarships.

Those grants and scholarships aid and promote many aspects of the southwest Kansas community – educational, social, cultural, health and civic interests are benefitted through endowments built and managed by the Foundation.

The Foundation thinks that the broad charm of "Tres Vidas" will appeal to a diverse audience.

"That’s what we’re hoping," said Pat Hamit, foundation director. "It’s going to be interesting to see other points of view presented in a very different way. We hope that people who have maybe never attended a program such as this would come out and enjoy it. Maybe people will see something like this for the first time."

The foundation’s assets total more than $40 million. The group reached a milestone last year, exceeding the $1 million mark in grant money awarded for the first time.

According to Hamit, the foundation is on track to award at least that much in grants alone again this year.

Hamit said partnering with the DCCC International Club and United Way of Dodge City to bring "Tres Vidas" to town is part of a broad effort to edify the community.

"We’re interested in whatever benefits the community," he said. "I’m a classic country music fan, so I knew this is going to be different. But after reading more about it, I knew this was something the Foundation needed to be involved with.

"This is a reflection of people who had great influence in Hispanic history. We’re hoping that a lot of people are familiar with the names being portrayed on stage and learn something about them and what they did. You never know what’s going to touch somebody and make a difference in their life."

The event is free but donations are always welcome and help to fund next year’s event.