Friday, May 28, 2010
Social change is often a topic of conversation here at the Ranch and in our home. What needs changing, how to make it happen and how to keep the momentum going. Years ago when our country got involved in this mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, we made a collective decision to change our youth scholarship program to now provide scholarships for returning Vets from Iraq and Afghanistan. We believe that music heals the soul and we could not think of more deserving individuals . All of our poster sales, private donations and matching donations from Jorma and I, built a credible fund. The Vets were slow in answering the call so Hot Tuna went to Walter Reed to visit as many Vets as they could and let them know that we had a network started and it was there’s to take advantage of. The politics to get Hot Tuna in the doors was typical but all in all we were grateful for the help of one soldier who helped make it all happen. I am not sure if I can use his name or not, so I am intentionally leaving it out. Our men and woman are still over there and we are still here offering a chance to come and experience what the Fur Peace Ranch is all about.
Fast forward to last weekend…..I got a call from Freddy Hahne, Board member of the Rex Foundation. It was an unexpected call and surprise to say the least. Freddy wanted me to know that he had been thinking about Jorma and the Ranch and everything that we have been doing here in the last 13 years. He was calling to inform me that he was going to bring up Jorma and the Ranch at the Board Meeting the next day and nominate us/Jorma to be the recipient of the Ralph J. Gleason award. This award is in memory of music journalist Ralph J. Gleason, a major figure in the advancement of music in America in the 1960s, whose openness to new music and ideas transcended differences between generations and styles. I listened on the other end of the phone stunned and grateful of course. He said he’d be in touch after the meeting. Well……as these things go, they awarded Jorma this special fund to offer music instruction to youth in Appalachia. I held on to this news for a few day and announced it to Jorma and the rest of the staff and students at last weeks at orientation. We’ve had a chance to let it settle in and now the work begins.
Appalachia runs from parts of Mississippi to Maine. Where do we start? Who will benefit from this gift? How do we find the kids? Lots of questions and already lots of progress. I am in the process of contacting students and instructors along this Appalachian trail and paving a plan to offer music instruction in many forms. Lectures, lessons and guitars will be offered to as many kids as we can find. When the money runs out….we’ll find a way to keep it going. A big up to The Rex Foundation for choosing us to fulfill their mission. In these ways, together, as participants in the Rex Foundation community, we are helping to foster the power of community, service and the arts to help generate positive social change toward health, happiness and prosperity for all.
Posted by Vanessa Lillian at 9:05 AM
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