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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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The residents at Crossroads East Oakland Community Project, a homeless shelter for diverse adults, slowly filled the room as the group started singing. They were weary from their day and might have preferred to go to sleep rather than to a mandatory Life Skills meeting. They were quite pleasantly surprised to see four dapperly dressed gentlemen and to hear some great old school and new tunes.

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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.

Once a year we gather our volunteer hosts together and ask them to share how Bread & Roses has made a difference in their lives as well as the lives of our audiences. Here are a few highlights from the testimonials they shared.

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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.

Jump for Joy Music Offers Respite

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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.

Peter first heard about our program when he attended a B&R Festival of Music in the late 70s at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. A few months later, he was at his job in a Marin restaurant where he noticed our founder, the late Mimi Fariña, was one of his customers. He introduced himself and asked if he could help. He began as a volunteer by providing food backstage for three days at the next festival. Not long afterwards, he was a staff event coordinator until he left in 1982. He’s been volunteering ever since.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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."  

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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.

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Oberlin Intern Kelsey Robertson Reflects on Her Bread & Roses Experience

 

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

 

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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.   

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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.

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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: 

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