Holiday 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, 2011 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 over the US and into Canada (Tremblant Blues Fest). In addition Harmonikids work was recognized by the Blues Foundation's "KBA Award" in education and Hohner, the worlds leading harmonica company, officially pledged its alliance.
This year's newsletter starts with Harmonikids Christmas session past and present feature, followed by details of what was accomplished in 2011.
On December 9th Harmonikids provided a Hohner-sponsored session at the New York City Ronald McDonald House with old friend Chris Neuhoff and a volunteer R&B band, bringing joy to child cancer patients and their families.. The following excerpt from a letter received from a parent illustrates the remarkable benefits Harmonikids brings to children beyond the actual session - including (in this case) pain management for a little girl's cancer treatments.
"While it is hard for me to even begin to describe the impact you had upon my 4-year-old daughter, Brooke, here at the Ronald McDonald House of New York City, I would like to begin by saying thanks…
After the special evening of harmonica and R&B, Brooke has either carried (or had me carry) her new harmonica in her pocket every single day to the hospital. I found it amazing too that she took it with her when we had to go on Saturday and she had to get blood work done and then the thing she dreads the most - needle removal from her medi-port in her chest.
This past Saturday was the first day in a very long time that she did not cry - at all - for this process. I can only attribute it to the harmonica that she was holding, entertaining the nurses with as well as the harmonic melodies coming from the down hallway from the little girl that was next in line to see the nurse. If that does not describe the positive impact the music left on the children here, I don’t know what would.
Usually alone here in the city with Brooke as she gets her treatments, the talent you shared with all of us also left me as a mother feeling energized and revitalized. We are surrounded in a massive city of adult musical entertainment, and yet all of my time and focus is on my child fighting cancer, and keeping her mind occupied as much between treatments to prevent her from missing home too much. So even if we do get the chance to go and do anything, it is usually a child function. It was wonderful to get the chance to enjoy something so rich with my child as the beauty of pure music, and we both enjoyed it all so much.
Thank you again for these unrepayable gifts of your time and passion for the harmonica. It was contagious and can still be heard here around the house! God bless you today and always..."
The following is an article I wrote currently featured in "Blues Festival Guide" describing a favorite holiday memory - a Christmas Eve Harmonikids session in a youth detention center:
"CHRISTMAS EVE BLUES" TO YOUTH IN NEED
Several years ago on Christmas Eve I visited a full-security juvenile detention center for teen boys in my hometown to give them a special Christmas gift - harmonicas and Blues lessons through my nonprofit organization, Harmonikids. In my own adolescence, the facility's very name, "Ferris", was used to invoke fear as a deterrent to getting in trouble. Often I was told I would "end up in Ferris" if I didn't "clean up my act". This was about the same time I discovered solace in playing the Blues on a harmonica, which may have actually saved me from going there. Read More...
HARMONIKDS 2011 EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS: To see all of the many wonderful accomplishments this year please see www.harmonikids.org/events/ Also, please read the most recent reports of ours sessions at www.harmonikids.org/press/ and www.harmonikids.org/HohnerSessions/HS3-RBF-KaysKamp.html
HOHNER ALLIANCE: This year Hohner, the worlds leading harmonica company, officially pledged its alliance with Harmonikids to provide harmonicas and sponsored sessions. Clay Edwards, President of Hohner, Inc. recently commented, "Harmonikids is a first class organization with its heart in the right place and Gary Allegretto couldn’t be better in relating to the children”. Look for an official Hohner "Harmonikids" model harmonica to debut in 2012. For a link to Hohner's web press release, please click HERE.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION: This year I was honored as the recipient of the Blues Society's prestigious "Keeping the Blues Alive Award" in education (see www.ameriblues.com/2011/02/09/30th-annual-keeping-the-blues-alive-awards-feb-5th-2011-memphis-tennessee/). Also, Harmonikids received widespread recognition and acclaim with features in many magazines and publications.
THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS! Very special thanks to all of Harmonikids supporters in every regard. Through your generous donations, fundraisers (Barbizon, Grassroots Acoustica), sponsorships, partnerships, media coverage, web support (Barbara Belli) technical and logistic support and assistance you have helped make these remarkable accomplishments possible. Please see www.harmonikids.org/sponsors.htm for a list and links to our sponsors.
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. NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL. PLEASE USE OUR CONVENIENT NEW PAYPAL FEATURE RIGHT NOW BY VISITING THE HOME-PAGE AT: www.harmonikids.org
OR MAIL A DONATION TO: Harmonikids, 2144 Beech Knoll Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046
PLEASE NOTE: Harmonikids donations are tax deductible. For tax purposes please use EIN 33-1099865
* 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 2012.
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