National Friends Help Bring Back School Arts Programs After Harvey
Thanks to the generosity of friends from across the nation, students around the Houston region now have quality new and refurbished stringed instruments to replace those lost in Harvey. Ensuring students can still access the benefits of the arts as part of their education is a vital part of disaster recovery; and organizations, companies, and individuals nationwide have stepped up to meet the challenge.
These nationwide donors have provided material and emotional support to districts struggling with many urgent priorities. According to teacher Amanda Ortez of Southmore Intermediate in Pasadena Independent School District, "With all of the costs and attention to facilities and assets, I am afraid that our focus will shift from the arts. Our school provides most of the instruments our students need. It is rare that a student will acquire a quality instrument on their own. The burden of instrument replacement will be on the shoulders of the individual schools."
Blackerby Violin Shop's staff in Austin reached out in the days after Hurricane Harvey and asked how they could support Houston students. The resulting fundraiser and instrument drive brought a large donation of stringed instruments and accessories to the children of Houston. Ignited by school district fine arts leaders and arts partners from Houston Arts Partners, an online portal was created through TMEA and other professional organizations for arts educators, identifying the areas of greatest need.
Southmore Intermediate received one cello, and De Zavala Middle School, also in Pasadena ISD, received two cellos, along with vital accessories like bows, rosin, and rock stops.
The bulk of the donated instruments went to Sheldon Independent School District on Houston's east side, which was hit hard by Harvey. Null and King Middle Schools now share one campus, using staggered school schedules to accommodate all the students. The students embraced the unique plan of blending the campuses; however, both campuses needed help replacing instruments. Through Blackerby Violin Shop's generous donation, nine instruments were delivered to the music teachers, as well as paper planes hand-embossed with inspirational messages from students at RAW Art Works in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Andrea, a student who received a violin at at Null Middle School, said,
"It means a lot how all these instruments were donated. I'm an eighth grader who has been playing ever since I started kindergarten and music has become a part of my life. I can't see where I would be without it."
Thank you to the generous supporters of Young Audiences of Houston and the recovery efforts for Houston youth and arts education.