Greetings from Harmonikids!
Every year about this time I sit down to reflect and write about Harmonikids annual accomplishments. Even in light of considerable achievements in past years, 2010 was a particularly productive year. In spite of the economic challenges that continue to face nonprofit organizations in this time of recession, my sessions and workshops effectively took music therapy to special kids all around the country, and a remarkable trip to Port Au Prince Haiti. As you'll read below, through Harmonikids the universally healing joy of music truly is just under a child's nose... and all over the world!
As always, these humanitarian deeds are made possible by the kindness of Harmonikids supporters like you. Some of this year's highlights include…
HARMONIKDS HAITIAN MISSION: This year Harmonikids accomplished one of it's most challenging and rewarding missions. On May 8-14, 2010 I traveled to Haiti with 1000 harmonicas successfully provided music therapy to Haitian children who are not only earthquake survivors, but many who were also victims of domestic child slavery and extreme poverty. This was made possible through the generous partnership of Joan and Ray Conn of the Restavek Foundation and Hohner Inc as well as fundraising efforts.. Film maker Marc Lempert accompanied me, providing both assistance and documentation of my sessions. To share the full travelogue story of this extraordinary mission, with its uplifting stories, photos, testimonials and more, please click on the (PDF file) link: www.harmonikids.org/press/HarmonikidsToHaitiJune2010.pdf. A captivating four minute video may be viewed at: www.harmonikids.org/videos/. A heartfelt speech from a school director following our first session in one of the most desperate and impoverished areas in Port Au Prince says it all:
"This morning your presence in the school with all the children makes me feel that Haiti will not perish, Haiti has not died, and Haiti will live again... After Jan 12th I was very sad, but this morning you make me feel that there is hope for Haiti and these children - hope that their lives can become better."
Mr. Runner, Director of the Humaniste School, Port Au Prince, Haiti
Some happy Harmonikids in Port Au Prince Haiti, April 2010
PHOENIX CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: On June 14th Harmonikids visited Phoenix Children's Hospital. The children (many on I. V. units and wheelchairs) gathered in excitement as the harmonicas and music sheets were passed out. Their touching enthusiasm blossomed as they quickly learned and played the songs. The session was a joyful one, full of giggles and smiles, and the director remarked that it was a wonderful gift for the kids and their families to relieve their stress from their constant daily health challenges.
UNM CHILDREN'S PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL: I visited this very special facility in both July and November. The heartwarming sessions I had with the kids there epitomizes the effectiveness of Harmonikids work with kids who have acute challenges. This is perhaps best described in a letter from Garry Wolfe, Director of Recreation Therapy:
"Our acute kids usually share a common diagnosis of severe depression and are usually here because they have tried to commit suicide. You were able to engage these very sad kids and give them a bright spot / happy spot in their treatment. Most all of the kids were smiling and engaged for the entire hour - and these are usually kids that simply don't smile. Your music and harmonica instruction gave that to them. On Saturday, I noticed one of the patients that was carrying his harmonica around the campus with him. He was talking about using the harmonica to calm himself down. It became a coping skill for him. We would very much like to have a return visit at some time in the future. Thanks."
Garry Wolfe, Director of Recreation Therapy, Children's Psychiatric Hospital, Albuquerque, NM
THE NEW YORK CITY RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE hosted another Harmonikids session on July 30th, followed by a rockin’ R&B concert for the kids with a group of New York musicians organized by longtime Harmonikids friend Chris Neuhoff. My little buddy, 9 year old upcoming harmonica virtuoso Josh King helped out and wowed the playroom with his playing once again!
THE RIVERFRONT BLUES FESTIVAL invited me back to one of my favorite events where I gave harmonica workshops and a stage performance in August. The City of Wilmington, Delaware's Office of Cultural Affairs has been a generous supporter for many years and warm thanks go especially to Tina Betz, Beverly Zimmerman, Barb Belli (who is also Harmonikids web-master) and staff as well as Gene Fontana (and the Diamond State Blues Society).
The Riverfront Blues Festival Harmonikids Workshop Tent
FERRIS SHOOL FOR BOYS is another of my favorite Harmonikids visits. In August I returned to continue my work there with juveniles who put their hearts into learning, playing (and even rapping to) the Blues including Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man”. These sessions always give these young men a much needed healthy outlet and positive means of expression which they openly appreciate. Warm smiles and laughter filled the room as Harmonikids was there again to reach out to a roomful of boys who are in need of a second chance and often victims of neglect and abuse.
GROSSMAN BURN CENTER "CAMP BROOKFIELD": In October I was invited back to do another session for this wonderful summer day camp that takes place at Dr. Grossman’s home. This fun-filled event is held for children who are burn survivors. The kids really enjoyed the entertainment, and delighted in receiving the harmonicas and learning the songs. In Dr. Grossman's words:
"Not only were the children entranced, so were the adults. It was a beautiful coming together of kids that thought they could never do this... heartwarming as it was for the kids, it was also equally beneficial for their self esteem."
A. Richard Grossman, M.D., Medical Director of the Grossman Burn Center
Kids enthusiastically playing songs at Camp Brookfield
AWARDS & RECOGNITION: Of special note, my work through Harmonikids was honored repeatedly in 2010. I was the recipient of the Blues Society's prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award (to be presented in February 2011), an Artists For a Better World Award, and recognized as an Alumni of Distinction by NAU for my humanitarian projects. Many thanks to these organizations for bestowing these honors. Also, Harmonikids received widespread recognition and acclaim with features in many magazines and publications both in the USA and Europe. Of course, the greatest reward is always sharing the joy of making music with the children I reach.
THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS! Very special thanks to all of Harmonikids supporters in every regard. Through your generous donations, fundraisers, sponsorships, partnerships, media coverage, technical and logistic support and assistance you have helped make these remarkable accomplishments possible.
This is just some of the terrific work and positive impact that Harmonikids had in the past year. Please pass this along to someone who may be interested in reading about and supporting Harmonikids. Your support and assistance makes it all possible. You can also help by donating money or mileage, bringing a Harmonikids or a "Blues in the Schools" session to a facility near you, or by providing Harmonikids workshops at your local festival or event.
Kind regards for the New Year and always,
Founding Director, Harmonikids
HARMONIKIDS NEEDS YOUR HELP TO CONTINUE ITS IMPORTANT WORK. HERE'S HOW YOU CAN GIVE:
* A TAX DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTION. THERE'S STILL TIME FOR 2010 AND NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL. PLEASE USE OUR CONVENIENT NEW PAYPAL FEATURE RIGHT NOW BY VISITING THE HOME-PAGE AT: www.harmonikids.org
* DONATE AIRLINE MILEAGE. HARMONIKIDS NEEDS AIRLINE MILEAGE TO REACH KIDS. IF YOU (OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW) HAS MORE THAN YOU CAN USE PLEASE CONTACT US.
* SPONSOR A HARMONIKIDS (OR BLUES IN THE SCHOOLS) WORKSHOP AT YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL, FESTIVAL OR EVENT IN 2011.
The joy of music is just under a child's nose.
A 501(c)(3) tax-deductible charitable organization
“I am heartily supportive of Harmonikids…we have seen the power of music in transforming young lives. Gary Allegretto and his work are most worthy of support.” ~ Dan Aykroyd
More information about founding director Gary Allegretto's music and work is available at: www.garyallegretto.com