We were very touched by the testimonial Tracey Rose gave about her experiences as a Bread & Roses Volunteer Host at a special event last year to celebrate our Circle of Advisors, Board of Directors and volunteer hosts. Tracy has been a host since 2006 and since then has facilitated almost 200 shows for isolated audiences around the Bay Area.
Our volunteer host program continues to gain momentum and is an essential part of maintaining our high number of annual shows. In 2018, we had the most shows ever hosted by volunteers -- 425 out of 624 overall -- a whopping 68 percent or over two-thirds of our annual program. We served 34,159 audience members overall, the second highest number to date.
Our show total last year was also the third highest in our history.
We couldn't do it without our volunteers who represent us to all the varied facility audiences that we serve around the Bay Area. Tracey is just one of 39 volunteer hosts who helped us last year by going to our scheduled programs to emcee and make sure everything goes smoothly.
We know that the host volunteers get back as much as they give. Consider joining us or referring others who may be interested to fill out an application.
The following is Tracey's testimonial about her experiences as a Bread & Roses volunteer host.
When I was asked to talk about my experience with hosting Bread & Roses shows, I thought I would never be able to pinpoint the most salient aspect of hosting. I asked myself “How can I possibly encapsulate nearly 13 years of shows into one essential ingredient?’’ Then it came to me in a word: “awe.” Every show has had that “awe” moment. A moment of sheer joy and wonderment. A moment of speechlessness; of profound quietude. A moment where an audience member has been moved to tears by a song, a rendition, a performer. And frequently, it is I that has been moved to tears.
Recently, I hosted a show at a rehab center in Santa Rosa. The performer, Elaine Lucia, is a singer/songwriter with an amazing voice and full repertoire of pieces from her own past and experience. An attractive young woman sat in the front row directly across from Elaine. Her eyes were riveted on the singer, never wavering. She appeared mesmerized and deeply moved. I approached this woman afterward and mentioned how engaged she seemed.
“I have two small children and I’ve been sober for three months now. I was a songwriter once, and Elaine has inspired me.”
“Sounds like you are on your way back to being that again’’, I said. “Let me introduce you to our performer.”
As they shook hands and spoke, I stood by and smiled. I had been privileged to see, once again, the power of Bread & Roses and the artists who make these visits so filled with healing, hope and inspiration. I have no doubt this woman will find the words to describe her arduous journey to sobriety and someday, perhaps very soon, they will become lyrics in a song.
On another occasion, I had the opportunity to host a young opera singer, Sarah LeMesh, who sang for a healthcare facility for the elderly. Her voice filled the hall, lifted the spirits of those present, and deeply affected one resident in particular. A man of Italian descent, she sang an Italian love song. Throughout the piece, he sat on the edge of his seat, tears brimming in his eyes. When I introduced them at the show’s end, he was grateful to have heard his native language sung with such eloquence and expressed his gratitude with a heavy accent. One of my favorite residents, I was saddened when I found he had passed away a short time later.
I used to think it was the audiences who were enriched by these performances. I have come to realize it is the performer, the host, the facility caretakers, anyone present when a performer creates this elusive, yet ethereal, brand of magic.
My experiences have not been unique. Any host you speak with tonight will relay similar stories and similar experiences. We are the lucky ones. We are the witnesses to the power of music to provoke tears, and the power of music to evoke “awe”.
Thank you Bread & Roses for letting me be part of that.
Photos & Video by Peter Merts