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Bread & Roses Blog

News and information from Bread & Roses, a non-profit organization that presents live music to bring hope, healing and joy to the community.

Brotherhood for Bread & Roses: The Legendary Mighty O’Town Passions at Crossroads in Oakland

As the name implies, The Legendary Mighty O’Town Passions are a musical force to be reckoned with. More than a performing group, they are a musical ministry for good. They take their uplifting songs to the streets, to the stage and to the shelters – as they did for Bread & Roses Presents on February 16, 2017.

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Volunteers Share Why Hosting Shows Makes A Difference

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Volunteer hosts are an essential part of sustaining our program throughout the year at Bread & Roses Presents. With the help of our hosts, we presented a record-breaking 626 shows in 2016, the most ever. Forty-one active volunteers hosted 350 of these shows last year, a whopping fifty-six percent. We are so grateful for our many volunteers, hosts as well as performers, who bring hope and healing through live music to 34,000 people in the Bay Area annually who are isolated and need uplifting.

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Performers Create Community for Bread & Roses Isolated Audiences

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Mickey Hart, best known as the drummer for the Grateful Dead and a member of our Circle of Advisors, talks about the rhythm of music that connects us all in a common heartbeat. At Bread & Roses Presents, we are fortunate to witness on a daily basis the transformative power of music and the performing arts to bring diverse audiences together in a communal experience. Wiley and Debbie Rankin of Jump for Joy Music, Ross Commons and Gail Muldrow are among the many performers who create community for Bread & Roses isolated audiences in a variety of ways.

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Collaboration With Salesforce & "Pass the Music" Bring Our Mission To Their Creative Team

At their impressive headquarters in downtown San Francisco, Bread & Roses Presents was invited to “pass the music” at Salesforce on September 22 to educate their creative team about our mission. J.D. Swartz from Salesforce shared that it was a welcome break from intensive planning for their Dreamforce conference held every year in early October.

He introduced Bread & Roses Executive Director Dave Perron who gave an update about our organization and noted that today’s performer Megan Slankard is one of over 1,000 volunteers who help bring music in over 600 annual concerts around the Bay Area to audiences of children, adults and seniors who are isolated.

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Peter Merts, Volunteer Photographer: Images of Joy in Shows for Isolated Audiences

Darkness Into Light at the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehab Center in San Francisco, Chris Donohoe at Center Point in San Rafael, Aline deForge and Emmanuel Presselin at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae, Marisa Nordstrom at Marin Learning Center in Marin City, Fancy von Pancerton at North Bay Children's Center in Novato,  Miss Kitty at the Marin Learning Center, The Bread & Roses Holiday Chorus at Vision Impaired of Marin in San Rafael, Sylvia & the Silvertones at Center for Elders Independence in Oakland, Aaron Kierbel at BAHIA in Oakland, these are just some of the recent institutional shows that Peter Merts has helped us document (and are seen in this order in the above slide show).

A San Rafael photographer, Peter has been a volunteer for Bread & Roses Presents for over thirty years. He is a great example of the many ways that donated professional services help to accomplish our mission and move us forward. We have been fortunate that photographers including Robert Altman, Jay Blakesberg, Ken Friedman, the late Jim Marshall, Bill Nichols and many others have contributed to our cause.

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New Volunteers from the Hellman Family Play for Bread & Roses

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“Let there be songs to fill the air…” From Ripple (American Beauty, The Grateful Dead)

On Wednesday March 9, the delightful band "Marco & The Polos," comprised of the late Warren Hellman's four children -- son Mick and his sisters Frances, Judith and Tricia Hellman Gibbs – played their first Bread & Roses concert for an audience of appreciative seniors at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae. All four sang, alternating leads and harmonies, with Mick on drums and Tricia playing both guitar and banjo.

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Marin Academy Senior Katrina Strack Reflects Upon Her Internship At Bread & Roses Presents

At Marin Academy High School, seniors are encouraged to participate in a project during the month before graduation that is meant to provide a learning experience outside of the classroom and give students a new perspective before heading off to college.

As I looked ahead towards graduation and felt my final days of high school slipping away from me, I was overwhelmed. My activities and schoolwork started to feel meaningless, like they were just stepping stones on a path I was walking far too quickly. Everything was moving too fast. I hoped that my upcoming senior project, a month-long internship at Bread & Roses Presents would pull me out of my funk. Little did I realize just how much it would.

Coming into this project, I was familiar with its powerful mission: to bring the healing power of music to isolated people. I knew that most adults in the Bay Area were familiar with Bread & Roses Presents, but I didn’t understand how such an incredible organization managed to fly under the radar of most teenagers. By interning in the Bread & Roses office and hosting performances at various facilities, I aimed to find out why Bread & Roses should matter to local teenagers.

I hosted four shows over the course of two weeks, at facilities in Point Reyes, Novato and Fairfax. The first three shows that I hosted were at youth centers for young children. These shows symbolized for me the joy that music and the performing arts brings. It was incredible to see how the music coaxed the children to stop being shy and sing, clap, and dance along with the performers. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much after each show. Looking around at the happiness on every child’s face, I knew they were experiencing the same thing.

My final experience as a show host was at an elderly care facility in Novato. This show had a completely different energy from the children’s shows that I hosted. Many of the audience members were nonverbal or had severe dementia. Because most of them didn’t have extensive physical or mental capabilities, the smallest gestures or words meant so much. This show epitomized for me the healing power of music. Hearing familiar jazz tunes from their younger days, a couple audience members nodded their heads, snapped their fingers, tapped the table, or even clapped. As I prepared to leave the facility, a couple of the more verbal audience members expressed how grateful they were to have been given the gift of this performance.

Hearing the Bread and Roses staff talk about the “healing power of music,” I was intrigued and touched by their stories. However, I soon found that it is one thing to hear about the power of music as an abstract concept, but it is an entirely different thing to witness it firsthand.

During my internship, I was asked by Bread & Roses staff to reflect on the question, “Why should youth care about Bread & Roses?”

I believe young people should get involved because hosting these performances changed my life. It showed me the importance of empathy, gratitude, and passion for my craft as a performer. I learned what it means to be isolated and how much music can brighten the darkest of days. I became so much more appreciative of the things that I have, particularly of the prominent role that music has played throughout my life and my high school career. And I developed a deep appreciation for the Bread & Roses staff and their volunteer performers. They all love what they do and love sharing it with others. Their passion for their work touches everyone around them.

Teenagers are constantly bombarded with information about the next step, the next fork in the road, the next chapter of their future. We start to lose sight of what is important because we are always looking ahead. Bread & Roses helped to make me feel centered and grounded again. With a fresh outlook and mindset, I am approaching the next chapter of my life with the passion and drive to become a better human being.

The future no longer looks as scary.

 

By Katrina Strack, June 2015

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Since her internship, Katrina, a talented singer/guitarist with a pop/contemporary repertoire, has become a volunteer performer for Bread & Roses Presents. She has performed a show at a senior convalescent facility, demonstrating her continued commitment to our organization.

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New Volunteer Host Helena Pappas Shares First-time Bread & Roses Show Story

"Volunteers are the backbone of our organization," said the late Mimi Fariña, Bread & Roses founder.  Our show hosts, in particular, represent our organization on-site at over half of our institutional performances allowing our small staff to produce 600 Bay Area concerts annually.  

More volunteers are always needed to host our programs, particularly in San Francisco, the East Bay and on the Peninsula.  Hosts greet the performers, help with set-up, liaison with facility staff, act as emcee and report on the effectiveness of our shows.

New host Helena Pappas, is a classically trained pianist and attorney from San Francisco. After her first Bread & Roses show at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco, she recalled some of the audience reactions that day and her experience of the deep healing and joy that music can bring.

"Just minutes into Marianna August & Her Jazz Pals performance, what had been a quiet, gloomy room, turned into a concert hall with Marianna taking center stage singing well-known jazz standards with the accompaniment of her talented musicians (Benny Watson on piano, Rick Brown on trombone, Rex Allen on drums and Dean Riley on stand-up bass).... 

Marianna August

Throughout the show, the residents were tapping their toes and nodding their heads to the beat of the music and swaying their bodies from side to side. At one point, one of the male residents started dancing with his walker, smiling from ear to ear and shaking his hips to the Latin beat of the song the band was playing... Marianna's rendition of My Heart Belongs To Daddy was a real crowd pleaser, with a bunch of the residents grinning at the silly lyrics and singing along.

With this performance Bread & Roses clearly met its goal of bringing joy to people living in isolation. Right before the beginning the last song, Marianna said "We're going to close out now" and a resident yelled out "Why don't you close out next week?"  Another yelled out "This is the best orchestra we've had!" And yet another exclaimed, "We want you back every night!" Marcia Lizza, our liaison at the facility told the band "You've brightened not just the day but the whole year for us," and many of the residents nodded and smiled in agreement. It was another successful day for Bread & Roses." 

Rex Allen

Marianna August (top) and Rex Allen (bottom). Photos Courtesy of Marianna August.

Would you or anyone you know like to be a volunteer host?  To apply online, click here.

 

 

 

 

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“The JAM” Annual Volunteer Recognition Event Celebrates B&R Volunteers

 

Bread & Roses volunteer recognition event, also known as "The Jam," was held on a sunny Saturday in May at the beautiful home of Toby and John Nady in the Piedmont hills. Thanks to the generous hospitality of our hosts, as well as the financial support of volunteer Ken Harrison, our community came together to celebrate the amazing accomplishment of all our volunteers.

 

Blog_groupOver 350 individuals and performing groups volunteer each year for Bread & Roses. Without our volunteer performers, hosts and many others who assist in the office or behind the scenes, we would not be able to present over 600 annual programs around the Bay Area.

Blog_NicholasBeardeOur celebration began with a JAM first, a special water ballet by Chris Shroeder. Not only is Chris a water ballet performer, she is also a musician and a member of the Lovin' Harmony trio one of our newest volunteer performing groups.  Emcee Nicolas Bearde (renowned jazz singer and Bread & Roses volunteer performer) opened the awards presentation with "I've Got the World On a String."

Anniversary awards were presented to volunteers and groups that have served for 5-10-15-20-25 and 30 years. Keta Bill and Karen Drucker deserving special mention for 35-years as volunteer performers and Mimi Morgan-Terry and Dave Terry for serving 35 years as event volunteers.

 

These special awards were also presented:

Outstanding Performer of the Year – Nancy Cassidy; Outstanding Youth Performers – Matt Jaffe, Constance Nutall, Camille Lummis; Interactive Performer – Andrew Skewes-Cox; Above & Beyond - Alan Thomas; All Around Volunteer - Arthur Javier; Most Active Performer – Si Perkoff; Outstanding Performer for Youth – Magic Jeanne; Outstanding Host – Sally Peter; Volunteer for all Seasons – Dick Miner; Office Volunteer- Dottie Rosso; Visual Arts Contribution - Kathleen Edwards; Professional Services - Kirke Hasson; Innovation Meets Tradition - KALA Ukeleles; Outstanding Sound - Sonic Stew/Clyde Niesen; Return to the Fold - Beth Crespan; Trouper Award - Kit Durgin

The afternoon culminated in great style with jamming at four stages "Jazz & Beyond," the "Acoustic Showcase on the Green," a "Singer-Songwriter Salon" and "Ukelele Universe."

 

Blog_ukuleleNew at this year's "Jam" was a generous gift of ukeleles from KALA Brand Music which are being used for workshops for Bread & Roses audiences.  All had a chance to try out the ukes at our "Ukelele Universe" stage.   Mark Milazzo, who works at Kala, is a volunteer performer for Bread & Roses along with his band the Smashing Banjos.  A recent article "Taking Music Behind the Walls" by Katie Watts in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat mentions their work with Bread & Roses.

Special thanks to Insalata's for the catered lunch, Peter Merts for photography, H.E.A.R for earplugs, Kathleen Edwards for graphic design and flowers, Sonic Stew/Clyde Niesen and David Denny for sound.  Thanks also to our in-kind donors Banana's at Large, Bovine Bakery, Marin Brewing Company, Moylan's Brewery & Restaurant, Noah's Bagels, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Rainbow Grocery, Real Foods Company, Safeway, United Markets, US Pure Water and Whole Foods.

Blog_LisaLast but not least, many thanks to Lisa Starbird at Bread & Roses for producing this year's JAM. We look forward to celebrating all our volunteers again next year!

 

 

 

 

Post by Marian Hubler

Slide/Video by Lauren Arrow

Photos by Peter Merts

 

 

 

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Happy Valentine's Day to Our Heart of Marin Nominees Alan Thomas & Sally Peter

newnew_heart_of_marinWe appreciate the many contributions of all our volunteers throughout the Bay Area who help us share their gifts on a daily basis with those who need music most. Once a year, we have the opportunity to recognize several volunteers through the Heart of Marin Award Ceremony that is held each January at the Marin Civic Center.   At this year's event on January 10, we celebrated our nominees for 2012, pianist Alan Thomas and host Sally Peter.

 

About Alan Thomas

Talented professional piano player Alan Thomas has been a volunteer performer for Bread & Roses since 2008. During that time he has played close to thirty concerts for Bread & Roses. An extraordinary volunteer, he is always willing to collaborate with other performers, such as singers Debbie Cucalon and Andoni Panici to make our program successful and putting in time for advance rehearsals.

His willingness to play with anyone who needs accompaniment is a great asset to our program. For the past several years he has helped mentor some of our youth volunteers, in particular our musical interns from Oberlin College in Ohio.  He worked with these talented vocalists to prepare them for performing for diverse Bread & Roses audiences with a live accompanist. He helped arrange their repertoire from classical and opera, to Broadway musical and other jazz standards to make their concerts accessible to a wider audience.

Last year, Bread & Roses initiated a community-wide Holiday Chorus to perform for a variety of our audiences throughout the Bay Area in December. Alan graciously stepped up to be the accompanist for the chorus. His commitment included one rehearsal, several planning sessions, time spent putting the selected songs into the proper keys and arranging them, as well as playing for the chorus for four separate concerts at The Redwoods in Mill Valley (senior convalescent), Laguna Honda in San Francisco (hospital) and New Bridge in Berkeley (drug rehab) as well as The Blind and Vision Impaired in San Rafael.

In addition to the venues for the holiday chorus venues, during the past 12 months he has performed concerts at varied facilities including Lifelong Medical and Atria Tamalpais in Novato, The VA Medical Center in San Francisco and the Center for Elders Independence (Josie Barrow) in Oakland.

About Sally Peter

Sally Peter has been volunteering for Bread & Roses since 1996 and has dedicated her time on a regular basis since then. Over the years she has put in countless hours as a volunteer host, an event volunteer and an office helper. During that time she has been a volunteer host for 432 shows. Within the past twelve months she has served the organization in many capacities including working at benefit events and acting as a liaison (host) at the institutional shows which Bread & Roses produces.

The responsibilities of a volunteer host are complex and multi-faceted, requiring unique skills. Each month Sally spends 6 – 10 hours hosting shows, traveling throughout Marin and beyond when needed. She always does her job with efficiency and good humor. A retired school teacher, Sally is especially qualified to work with our youth audiences, which can be some of the more challenging clients.

This year Sally has made a significant impact on the organization by going the extra mile as a committed volunteer host. She has stepped up to go to shows when other hosts were not available. She always has a “can do” attitude.

Bread & Roses produces over 600 shows each year, and over half of them are hosted by volunteers. Our program could not run without the commitment of volunteers like Alan Thomas and Sally Peter.

Thanks to our friends at the Larkspur - Corte Madera Patch for their tribute to our nominees this year. Click here to check out the article!

 

 

 

Contributed by Marian Hubler and Carolyn Gauthier, Bread & Roses, 2013

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Performing Live Music Helps To Ease Loneliness of Seniors

A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle “Loneliness Lethal for Seniors” talks about results from a new UCSF study that finds older people who are lonely are more likely to experience a decline in health.

Bread & Roses performer Barbara Dane, an 85-year-old resident of Oakland, was quoted in the article as saying many older adults need to take more responsibility for their own social lives.  As her late husband’s primary caregiver, Barbara had to take some time off from a 50-year career as a jazz singer. After he died, she realized how very important it was to maintain her active and varied social life as a performer.

At Bread & Roses, older volunteers who perform live music find it a great vehicle for staying connected to others.  Almost eighty volunteer performers, both individuals and groups, are over the age of 65 and many keep performing for Bread & Roses well into their 80s.   

The Swing Society, Bread & Roses performers for over a decade, are octogenarian swingers all in their 80s. The late James Jenkins, a Bread & Roses performer for over twenty-five years, played violin well into his 90s.

At an institutional show for Bread & Roses several years ago, former staff producer Kurt Huget recognized Barbara Dane’s high level of experience and showmanship. “Barbara brings to her performances an impressive musical legacy, a wide repertoire of material and an engaging personality that draws listeners into her world. She ran the gamut from blues and folk to gospel, songs with emotions and themes that everyone can connect with. Indeed, she had this appreciative audience clapping, shouting and singing along. After the show, most of the audience came forth to express their appreciation. One listener told her that ‘we needed that.’ “

Barbara thanked us afterwards for the privilege of performing for the folks at New Bridge, an adult drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Berkeley.  She said, “They were just about the most aware and responsive audience one could want, and we loved it all. Please do invite us for more. And thanks for all that you do to make these things possible.”

Our senior performers are an important part of Bread & Roses program of bringing music to isolated audiences around the Bay Area. For the 600 programs we present each year, a third of our audiences are either in senior convalescent centers or day facilities where seasoned performers who do vintage songs or classic jazz standards are especially welcome. 

Do you know any older performers who might be willing to volunteer for Bread & Roses?

They could benefit from staying connected to those who would truly appreciate them and we could use their help.

By Marian Hubler

Barbara Dance with Kurt Huget

 

Barbara Dane (with Kurt Huget) performed at a benefit for Bread & Roses in 2007. 

Photo by Ken Friedman

 

 

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From the Archives: Happy Birthday Mimi Fariña

Today, April 30, 2012, our founder Mimi Fariña would have been 67-years-old.  When she died of cancer in 2001, she was way too young to leave us.  Mimi’s great gift is the strong legacy she left at Bread & Roses.

On this anniversary of her birthday, we appreciate all who continue to support our mission of hope and healing through live music. If you would like to join the Mimi Fariña Founder's Circle, please make a donation in her honor today.

In the Bread & Roses archives, there is a wonderful article by Joan Smith from the San Francisco Examiner Magazine (December 17, 1995) Heart & Soul: Mimi Fariña’s Mission of Hope. Ms. Smith talks about the relevance of  "the selfless good work of Fariña and her staff of volunteers."  It reminds us of the timeless nature of the work in which we are all engaged, connecting heart to heart through live music with those who need uplifting most. 

This week Making Music Magazine published an article on Bread & Roses and Mimi's legacy. Former Board Chair, Toby Nady composed the article. You can read the full text by following this link.

Mimi Fariña circa 1991. Photo by James Sugar, Courtesy of Bread & Roses.

 

As a musician, Mimi knew first-hand the impact that music could have on a person living in an institutional setting. After an early concert she gave at a half-way house she said; “I could see the need to bring music to people who are confined or suffering and not in touch with the outside world.  You don’t have to preach or say anything, you just have to be there and make the music and it gets through on another level than medication or punishment or whatever else people experience in institutional life.”

Mimi with her sister Joan (from the collection of Joan Baez).

 

She was inspired to start calling performers she knew and schedule them for concerts for institutional audiences.Thank you Mimi for all you did to start Bread & Roses and keep it going. In this time of great technological change and economic challenge, thanks to all who help sustain this work through your contributions of time, talent and treasure as volunteers and donors.

Mimi with Melissa Paulsen (former Mayor of Corte Madera) cutting the ribbon for Bread & Roses' current office at 233 Tamalpais Drive in Corte Madera. Photo by Jon Sievert, courtesy of Bread & Roses.

 

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Notes From the Field: Peter Merts on Working with Bread & Roses

Photographer Peter Merts recently posted a blog about his volunteer work for Bread & Roses on Photo Philanthropy’s website: “Notes From the Field: Peter Merts on Working with Bread & Roses.”

Nicolas Bearde at Mission YMCA, photo courtesy of Peter MertsWe are so grateful that Peter Merts has been actively documenting our work for the past ten years.  He has been involved in supporting Bread & Roses for over thirty years having worked with Mimi Fariña as an event coordinator in the late 70s and early 80s.    We are truly blessed to have his continuing contributions; the beautiful images that help us tell our story in so many ways.

Take our upcoming benefit on Match 22 at the Regency Ballroom for example.  Peter’s images grace our invitation and program.  His  photos also make up a large part of the slide show we will be screening for the first time at the event showing the power of the institutional shows recently performed by our benefit musicians. 

'Til Dawn at the Canal Community CenterPeter has a real gift for capturing the magic of the interaction between performer and audience.  His images show performers like Nicolas Bearde dancing with one of the clients at the Mission Y senior program or the teens from the a capella group ‘Til Dawn saying hello after the show to the children at the Canal Community Alliance.

Thank you Peter for helping us illustrate in such a compelling way the benefits of bringing hope and healing through live music to those who need it most.

By Marian Hubler

Photos: Top- Nicolas Bearde performing a Bread & Roses show at
Mission YMCA in San Francisco. Bottom: 'Til Dawn performing
a Bread & Roses show at the Canal Community Alliance.
All photos courtesy of Peter Merts.
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Bread & Roses Honors Volunteers at Heart of Marin Awards

Our Heart of Marin Award nominees for 2011: (left to right) Peter Merts, Tucky Pogue and Dick Miner.

On Thursday, January 5, 2012, at the 19th Annual Heart of Marin Awards in San Rafael, Bread & Roses board and staff honored three of our Marin volunteers:  Peter Merts of San Rafael, Dick Miner of San Anselmo and Tucky Pogue from Ross.  Peter and Dick were nominated as "Volunteer of the Year" and Tucky, for her "Excellence in Board Leadership." 

Says Development Director Elizabeth Share; "I simply could not do my job without the high quality images provided by documentary photographer Peter Merts.  He creates a powerful window into the lives of those we serve and helps us visually communicate a social awareness of those who are isolated from society."  

A volunteer for over 30 years, Peter says  "My job at Bread & Roses started my photographic career. When I began to witness the amazing interactions between performers and audience members, I decided someone had to document these exquisite, heart-warming moments."   

Dick Miner, who has been one of our volunteers since 2009,  hosted over 30 different live music performances last year at 20 facilities - introducing and supporting the performers and working on-site with the facility activity directors.  Says Dick, "Every show has been an inspiration to me, a new adventure and memorable in some way.  Seeing audiences respond to new or old familiar songs is amazing. Bread & Roses entertainers provide pleasure, hope and inspiration to audiences who are starved for it."  

He recalled seeing an old friend in one of the senior facilities we serve who did not recognize him at first, but at the end they were able to talk of times past and tears were shed.  "He and I reconnected and the magic of the music was responsible," Dick said.  

Tucky Pogue, who joined the Board of Directors in 2006, served as Co-Chair in 2010-2011 with Toby Nady.  Tucky has provided great impetus to Bread & Roses in developing strategies for bringing the next generation of volunteers and donors into our organization.  She has been an exemplary leader in so many ways -- chairing our major fundraising benefit for several years, soliciting funds for the organization, inspiring staff and contributing to creative auction items.  (To see the roster of the Bread & Roses Board of Directors click here.)

We thank Peter, Dick and Tucky for their many contributions of time, talent and compassion. We thank all of our volunteers - the performers, hosts, event volunteers and board members. As our founder Mimi Fariña said, "Volunteers are the backbone of Bread & Roses."  Do you have a favorite story from volunteering for Bread & Roses that you would like to share?

To volunteer for Bread & Roses, click here

 

 

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Warren Hellman (1934-2011) - His Memory Will be a Blessing

Warren Hellman and The Wronglers

It is with great sorrow that we note the passing of our friend Warren Hellman. Warren was both a donor and volunteer performer for Bread & Roses, playing gigs for our isolated audiences with his band, The Wronglers.  Warren and The Wronglers brought joy and hope to seniors, the developmentally disabled, and those battling addiction, and everywhere they played, Warren established a heart-to-heart connection with his audience. Warren exemplified all that is most compassionate about Bread & Roses. After every show he told friends that he "received far more than he gave" when he played at these small gigs for his neighbors in need. He especially delighted in the fact that he was known to those we serve as a banjo player. His many other well deserved titles - billionaire, financier, philanthropist, endurance runner, San Francisco treasure - took a back seat to "musician" on these occasions, and Warren got a real kick out of this. Like countless others, we will miss Warren. His memory will truly be a blessing.

Photos courtesy of Peter Merts.
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Miss Kitty Shows the Way with Music for Children

Miss Kitty at Papermill Creek Children's Center, 10/17/2011. Video courtesy of Sharon Glenn.

 

Highly revered children's performer Miss Kitty shows the way to connect with Bread & Roses' younger audiences.   At a recent concert for children at Papermill Creek pre-school at Pt. Reyes Station, she was a big hit with over twenty children many of whom were from the Head Start program in West Marin.

A professional entertainer for three decades, Miss Kitty (aka Judy Nee) has been a volunteer performer for Bread & Roses for 13 years.  Judy is a real master of her craft knowing exactly how to vary the tempo of her songs for children and to keep her programs interactive. She spoke recently about the secret to her success in connecting with children everywhere:

I look them in the eyes, find out their names, and respond to them as individuals.

About 1/3 of Bread & Roses current program service is dedicated to concerts for children and youth throughout the Bay Area.  Many of our volunteer entertainers for children are like Miss Kitty: performers who sang in rock and roll bands before doing music for children.   

Judy has a number of recordings for children including My Miss Kitty: Sweet & Simple - Most Requested Toddler Sing Along Songs and Just Because You're You which was produced by the late Jim Rothermel, another beloved Bread & Roses performer.  

Many of our performers for both institutional and benefit concerts for Bread & Roses have recordings for children including Maria Muldaur's  Barnyard Dance: Jug Band Music for Kids and Animal Crackers in My Soup.  Keb Mo's Big Wide Grin features songs from his own childhood along with some originals.    

We are always on the lookout for more quality performers to do concerts for our youngest audiences.  Please let us know if you might be able to help in this way - you can contact us by email at info@breadandroses.org or you can fill out an application on our volunteer page.

If you are already a Bread & Roses volunteer performer, please leave a comment below and share your experiences.

 

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Oberlin Intern Kelsey Robertson Reflects on Her Bread & Roses Experience

 

Kelsey with Si

Kelsey Robertson with Jazz Pianist Si Perkoff at Laguna Honda Hospital 1/26/2011 

 

As a third-year vocal performance major at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music I decided to fulfill my Winter Term Project by interning with Bread & Roses for three weeks. As a young child I was exposed to the healing power of music. My Mom has been an Activity Director at a long-term care facility for over twenty years where I began performing at the age of seven. They were my first audiences. My friends and I would plan shows that involved elaborate costumes, dancing and singing along to CDs. This background drew me to Bread & Roses’ mission as I thought it would give me an in- depth look into the art of sharing music with those in need.

My experience with Bread & Roses has greatly exceeded my expectations. My assignments have been diverse and fulfilling. I have performed at five different facilities, observed and hosted performances, and written “essence stories” about the programs I attended.  I also started a project to recruit college and high school performers to do concerts for Bread & Roses. 

I have been fortunate to be able to do what I love – perform! I had the privilege of working with three different professional pianists and I sang two completely different styles of music – classical and musical theatre. At school, I study classical repertoire, so singing with a jazz pianist was a challenging yet rewarding experience.  I learned how to have more musical freedom in a performance and how to better communicate with an accompanist. 

Performing for these audiences has been extremely rewarding.  At my first performance at a convalescent home for people with dementia, many clients were lip-singing to every song and swaying in their seats. It was a gift to be able to help them recall their memories through live music. At the same show I noticed an older couple in the audience sitting next to one another. When I sang “Unforgettable,” I saw the man affectionately hold the woman’s hand. This moment brought a deeper meaning to the music for me and I was grateful for the ability to see these people experience such joy. 

At a hospital, a wheelchair-bound client wearing a blue helmet conducted the music I was singing. As he waved, he would always bring his hand back to his heart. Experiences like this show me the profound affect music has on people. After each performance I shook hands with audience members and listened to their positive feedback. I was grateful to be able to share my gift and brighten someone’s day.

Training to be a host entailed learning how to use the PA system, attending several performances with mentors, writing essence stories of what transpired at the shows, and being a program emcee. During my training as a host, two particular instances stand out from my essence stories. 

At a concert for the Children’s Learning Center, a special needs school in Alameda, Beatboxer Charles Moselle performed an outstanding musical show filled with various instruments, improvisation and beatboxing. “After his performance he asked if any audience members would like to come up and share their talents. A young girl bravely raised her hand. She leaned into the microphone and belted out a favorite pop song while Charles accompanied her with his vocal percussion. This turned into a catchy on-the-spot collaboration. After this, the amount of raised hands began to grow as more students wanted to share their talents. The performances that followed went from a heartfelt opera aria to an improvised rap.  It was meaningful for me to be a witness to the children who were inspired to share their own music.

Performers Misner & Smith recently did an Americana style concert at The Cedars Textile Arts Center, a program for developmentally disabled adults in San Rafael.  Before beginning one of the most popular songs  ‘This Land is Your Land’, Megan Smith told everyone to feel free to sing along. As soon as the first syllable of ‘this’ was sung, the room was filled with ringing voices. The sound gave me chills as everyone in the place celebrated an American classic.

I also began a college, university and high school recruitment project. I developed a list of schools in the Bay Area with strong music programs. I called the music departments to make contact with faculty members who could coordinate students to volunteer for Bread & Roses.  With the help of Bread & Roses staff, I compiled an email of the organization’s information and created an outreach letter which was sent out to music directors and youth performers.

The awareness that Bread & Roses has brought to so many communities and people is something I would like to embody myself. Whether it might be starting my own non-profit organization like Bread & Roses someday or encouraging my musical friends to get involved, I hope to bring back to my community what I have learned.  Bread & Roses has given me a first-hand look at the power and beauty of music. To work side by side with people who are so committed to reaching out to those in need and who believe so strongly in the healing power of music is inspiring. Not only have I been introduced to many new experiences but I also have had the pleasure of working with the fine staff, talented performers and dedicated volunteers of Bread & Roses. Thank you Bread & Roses, for giving me the honor to be part of such an extraordinary organization. 

Photo by Marian Hubler

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A Big Salute to our Heart of Marin Volunteer Nominees

Bread & Roses salutes our Heart of Marin volunteer nominees for this year:  performers Arthur Javier and Matt Jaffe. The annual award ceremony is sponsored by The Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL).  Close to 800 people attended the event on Thursday January 6 at Marin Exhibit Hall honoring local volunteers, nonprofit workers, board members and civic leaders.  

Novato resident Arthur Javier has been a volunteer performer for Bread & Roses since  2006. He delights our many institutional audiences, especially seniors, with his wide range of songs from other countries which he often sings in different languages.  He is always willing to step in at the last minute when we need a performer to fill in and in addition, helps as a volunteer host. 

Mill Valley resident Matt Jaffe is a talented teen performer who is a sophomore at Branson High School.  A volunteer since 2007,   Matt has a fully evolved style as a singer-songwriter/acoustic guitarist.   His performances are especially inspirational for his peers. He has performed for other teens in special needs schools and rehabs served by Bread & Roses.   

Thanks to all the great work of so many talented volunteers in Marin County and throughout the Bay Area.  As emcee Jan Wahl noted, "Everybody here today is part of the solution." 

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New Producer Francesca Lee Welcomed at Yearly Volunteer Host Gathering

Host Dinner 2010

On a recent fall evening in San Francisco, Bread & Roses Board member Sandy Popovich welcomed us all to her beautiful modern home for our annual gathering of volunteer hosts.    Forty-four active volunteers currently help us host our institutional programs throughout the Bay Area.   Our yearly dinner with this extraordinary group of volunteers lets us all have a chance to meet, tell favorite show highlights, ask questions and share feedback on how to make our program better.

Francesca Lee

This year's gathering was even more special as we all had the opportunity to meet new producer Francesca Lee, who graced us with one of her original songs.  Says Francesca about why she is excited to have the opportunity to produce concerts for Bread & Roses: “Music came early to me. I grew up in a family playing music of all kinds: folk, rock and cabaret. Singing changed me from being a shy child to reaching out and enjoying the marvelous communication possible between artist and audience. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts from Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in England, I was well prepared for a career in music.  In my professional experience I have learned performance, self-motivation, organization, music management and most of all, how to develop strong relationships. Working as a producer for Bread & Roses will enable me to use all of my skills and give back to the community in deeply meaningful ways.” To learn more about Francesca or her CD, The Pieces Left, visit www.francescaleemusic.com.

Host Ira Potovsky with Kurt Huget

We miss our wonderful colleague Kurt Huget who has moved on from Bread & Roses, though we are grateful he will continue to share his great music as a volunteer performer, and that he will also continue as a volunteer host. 

Photos by Peter Merts

 

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2010 JAM Highlight: Volunteer Award Winners at Annual Recognition Event

Once a year Bread & Roses has an event called "The JAM" to recognize its many wonderful volunteers.  Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization and we could not do our program without them.  Ten-year volunteer performer Danny Creed had this to say about his recent award:  "THANK YOU for making me feel so special on my ten-year award of performing for Bread & Roses.  It's truly been a joyful ten years of getting much more back from the places I've performed than I could ask for."  Thank you to ALL our volunteer performers.  To see photos of this year's award winners, visit volunteer photographer Peter Merts' website www.petermerts.com.

Here is the  list of this year's award winners: 

SPECIAL AWARDS

 

Trouper Award– Mark Hummel Trouper Award – Rusty Zinn  
Outstanding Performer for Youth – Nancy Cassidy  
Outstanding Performer -Arthur Javier
 
Outstanding Host – Linda MacVey
 
All Around Volunteer – Arlene Rudy
 
Outstanding Youth Performer – Matt Jaffe
Outstanding Youth Performer – Alexis Forchette
 
Outstanding Event Volunteers– Maureen Donnelly & John Martinez
 
Outstanding Professional Services – W.I.G.T.  
Above and Beyond – Susan Gilardi
 
 
 
30 Year Volunteer:
Grady Knowles 20 Year Performers:
Wendy DeWitt, Tom Ekkens, Joan Getz, Michael Lee, Richard Nathan, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Si Perkoff, Joanne Shwed, Otte Tobiassen, Linda Wiggins
15 Year Performers:
Calaveras, Phil Campbell, Oakland Jazz Choir, Diane Ferlatte, ‘Til Dawn 15 Year Volunteers:
Skip Brown, Michael Norelli
10 Year Performers:
Garrin Benfield, Mark Bunnell , Suzanne Ciani, Danny Creed, Kat Fitzgerald, Ross Gualco, Lick Wilmerding Jazz Combo, Swing Society, Vukani Mawethu Choir, Deborah Winters
10 Year Volunteers:
Andrew de Lory, Mary Alice Kirincic, Lloyd Minthorne, Clyde Niesen

 

 

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