Introducing Soundbytes for Seniors

Ask anyone who works at MYA or another non-profit organization: perhaps the most rewarding thing about what we do is that we are provided unique opportunities to impact the lives of the people in our community in a powerfully positive way. 

I am very excited to share one of these opportunities with you today; but first, a story from Kat Jasieniecki, an Occupational Therapist and wife of MYA’s Director of Marketing and Communication, Carl Jasieniecki:

 “A patient with Alzheimer's was extremely rude and combative (through little fault of his own) unless he was talking about his late wife, or something reminded him of her. They had run out of things to talk about until one of the techs brought an iPad and guessed about what sort of music the patient would have listened to in the 1930's. He chose a song from a popular musical and the patient stopped yelling, calmed down immediately, and asked "how'd you get that song on the calculator like that?!? My wife and I used to sing that all the time!" And from that point forward, the patient would always be calmed down before therapy (which lead to more improvement) with the song played from the one iPad they had there, even if someone had to be summoned from across the building to provide it. When the patient was being discharged and sent home, he was saddened that he didn't have a way to play the song, and asked repeatedly "well, how am I going to play the song though? What will I do??”

The impact of music on patients with Alzheimer’s has been well documented. If you have the chance, I highly recommend watching this clip which shows a patient who begins slumped over and unresponsive and becomes energetic and enlivened when he hears his favorite song.

Midwest Young Artists is proud to introduce Soundbytes for Seniors.  Through early January, we will collect used iPods, headphones, chargers and speakers that we can load with familiar music and directly give to Alzheimer's patients.  We are working closely with the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Illinois as well as ManorCare Health Services on this project, and we need your help!

If you have any items to contribute to our drive, please fill out a donation form and bring your item(s) to the lobby on weekends or the MYA office during the week. We will have a station set up to accept all donations. In addition, we will need student and parent volunteers for projects including iPod cleaning and charging, care package assembly and delivery, and serving at a donation booth at our concerts on October 28 and December 28. A signup sheet for these tasks is posted on our Volunteer page accessed from the Members page of our website.

Thank you for your support! Your generosity will provide joy to so many people.

Submitted by Ben Rusch, MYA Volunteer Coordinator

The Changing Face of Fundraising

First let's start with what hasn't changed.  Non-profits receive 80% of their donations from individuals who are familiar with the organization's mission and believe in it.

So what are the changes, and how do they affect Midwest Young Artists?  This year for the first time since 2005, we didn't receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.  While we submitted a strong application, the NEA made the competition stiffer by readjusting their guidelines to fund a wider variety of youth arts organizations, comparing us to all youth arts organizations, not just music, and then just by granting less money overall.  We have applied for funding for next year, 2013-2014, but not getting funding this year puts us in the hole because we will not have the $58,000 we received last year.

As our online personas grow ever more important via Facebook and other accounts, corporations and foundations increasingly tie their giving into social media campaigns that increase their visibility and allow for convenient interaction with their Facebook followers.  MYA has been nominated to participate in the Chase Community Giving Program, but is unlikely to garner more votes than organizations possessing a national scope and network of constituents across the country.  For example, the Balanced Mind Foundation in Evanston recently won a Pepsi Charitable Project.  This organization provides on-line resources and chat rooms for families who are raising children with mood disorders.  They serve over 600,000 visitors who use their online resources every year.

Let us know what you think about these campaigns.  If you have no qualms about connecting and voting on Facebook or if you have a bank account at Chase, please VOTE FOR MYA at the links below by September 18!  We'd like to have more of a local reach than other Chicago organizations.

Click here for link to Facebook vote page.

Click here for link to Chase Community Giving page.

Notes to MYA Parents

Parents will be receiving a letter from me outlining MYA goals for this special 20 Years Young Season. The first is just to celebrate this 20 year milestone!  The second is to increase our visibility so that more people know about Midwest Young Artists and our mission.  While MYA is well known nationally and at music schools across the country, we have a lot of work to do to be better known locally.  The third goal, like all non-profits, is to successfully meet our contributed income needs so that we can carry out our plans for this special year and beyond.  FYI, our goal for this year is $360,500, or about 27% of our total budget.  The rest comes from tuition, ticket sales and program ads.

For my part, to increase our visibility, I joined the Highwood/Highland Park Rotary Club.   Steve Greene (Scott/clarinet/Symphony) is a member and I'm thoroughly enjoying the meetings and getting acquainted with a wonderful group of people who really believe in the mission of this organization, service above self.  Allan was a member of Rotary when we lived in Iowa; in fact, we had a foreign exchange student from Denmark for 2/3 of a year when our girls were 9, 5 and newborn. Now I know why he enjoyed it so much.

I thought of MYA Parents when I ready my Rotary eBulletin today.  They are looking for volunteers to help with the Ft Sheridan beach clean up this Saturday, September 15.  If it's as beautiful as today, you might want to help out, especially if you've never walked down to the Ft Sheridan beach while your children are rehearsing.  Bring gloves and either meet at the McDonald's on Sheridan Road at 8:30 am, or stop by the office when you arrive at MYA in the morning and ask directions to the beach.

If other parents are Rotary members in other clubs, I'd love to know.

Meet Ben Rusch

We selected a new staff person!  We hope you will meet and welcome Ben Rusch this weekend. He will be around on both Saturday and Sunday.

It was an interesting selection process.  We read over dozens of resumes, conducted phone interviews, checked references, and brought in four candidates for interviews.  I think young people today are more mission driven in their career and job choices today, and non-profits like MYA, benefit from an awesome pool of bright, talented and resourceful candidates who really want to make a difference.

Ben was the first choice of the entire staff because he had all the skills and ability we were looking for and applicable experience working in the Chicago community music schools niche.  Ben was the Marketing Coordinator at the DePaul Community Music Division, and prior to that, he was Operations and Marketing Assistant at Chicago Youth Symphony.  He has a Bachelor of Music in Performing Arts Management with a minor in Business Administration from DePaul University where he had a Presidential Scholarship.  He also plays bassoon and did a stint in a drum line in his high school in Texas.