Although we have over 1,000 volunteers helping us present live music every year in over 600 programs to isolated audiences around the Bay, we don't always know the impact of our work on the volunteer hosts and performers who are the backbone of our organization. We recently heard from new volunteer host Gaby DiChiro and from volunteer performer, host, and former intern Una Lomax-Emrick how their experiences as part of our program transformed their lives. Here are their testimonials in their own words.
From Host Gaby DiChiro:
"Since I was a little girl, I've always believed in the healing power of music. Whenever I felt hurt or upset, sad, nervous, I always turned to music to help ease the pain a bit and fill up my cup with joy and happiness. Since I wasn't blessed with a worthy singing voice, I turned to dance as my creative outlet and was intrigued by how the music moved me. I started dancing at age 6 and have been obsessed with music ever since.
I've spent the last 3 years working with the incredible Oakland-based band, The California Honeydrops, who have been involved with Bread & Roses for the past several years. Working as their tour manager at the time, I attended my first ever Bread & Roses show at Delancey Street with the Honeydrops as the performer. I can never forget the emotions that washed over me that night at that special, life-altering performance. I've never seen a room light up so magnificently from the first strum of Lech's guitar. Music brought more joy to this group of polite, warm-hearted gentleman than any audience I have ever witnessed as a tour manager. It was pure magic. Pure joy. And undoubtedly brought tears to my eyes.
Since that memorable evening last Fall, I've wanted to be a part of this incredible organization so that I can be a larger part of the magic. I could not be more excited to get involved!"
From Performer, Host and Former Intern Una Lomax-Emrick:
"For me, art is a commitment to justice fostered through shared expression, an act rooted in necessity. My work with Bread & Roses Presents, a nonprofit committed to “inspiring hope and healing through live music,” has brought me to senior medical care facilities, halfway houses, Boys and Girls Clubs, and centers for adults who are differently abled and has been critical to my growth as an artist and activist. When entering a facility, ukulele over my shoulder and keyboard under my arm, I open myself up to a world of connection, whether it be performing within these facilities or introducing fellow artists. Where traditional “treatment” fails, music succeeds. When I sing with people who have lost verbal and/or cognitive abilities, art transcends language. Similarly, I have watched men hardened by substance abuse let themselves be moved by the performance of a local singer/songwriter, a young man not so different from them. Change happens in small moments, in the shifts between facade and honesty, and in our recognition of community where it has previously been hidden. Through artistic practice, I will bear witness to the trials and triumphs of others while challenging corrupt systems that oppress. Those in isolation need opportunities to make art, and most importantly, the freedom that creativity evokes. Throughout my life, I will keep combating injustice with art."
Thank you Gaby and Una for sharing your testimonials with us. To volunteer, please fill out our application. We especially need performers for youth and diverse audiences of all ages.
1) Gabby DiChiro outside On Lok Lifeways Powell Center. Photo by Marian Hubler.
2) Una Lomax-Emrick performing at the 2017 JAM. Photo by Peter Merts.