I’m Part of the Music Maker Community: a #GivingTuesday Donor Q&A

inThe Artistson November 20, 2018

We recently sat down with donors Al and Rich to ask them about their Music Maker experience and why our mission resonates with them. Al and Rich are both longtime donors and provided the $15,000 match for #GivingTuesday. 

Al’s Q&A: 

Music Maker partner artist Guitar Lightnin’ Lee

How does it make you feel when you give to Music Maker?

There’s so many options when you’re deciding on where to give your money charitably. With some organizations, it can feel highly impersonal when I give, and I wonder where my money really goes. There’s some disconnect there.

Music Maker is unique in that there’s a direct line of sight from the money to the impact. It’s incredibly personal, and I immediately feel like I’m part of a community. Like I’m part of the Music Maker family.

Why are Music Maker’s partner artists important to you?

They’ve contributed so much to our country’s heritage and our culture, yet many of them are idling away in obscurity, lost to our society. These amazing artists are sorely underappreciated and underrecognized. Last year, I went with Music Maker to see Guitar Lightnin’ Lee perform at the NOLA Crescent City Blues Festival. He had been unwell for some time, battling cancer, but he could still light up the stage like nothing else. I was shocked when we went back to his house—it was in complete disrepair. I’m glad Music Maker was able to work with him to jumpstart his house repairs so he could focus on the music.

Do you think it was important for Music Maker to hire a social worker?

Yes, incredibly so. Brittany is able to navigate complex systems and help identify existing, outside programs that can help Music Maker better serve its partner artists. They’re hard enough for anyone to navigate, much less someone dealing with added financial stress and health issues. Brittany is an indescribable resource for Music Maker and its partner artists.

Why is it important for others to give?

It’s impossible for any one individual to meet the needs of this community. And that’s what we are—a community. We help each other when we need a hand up, and with more support we can grow.

Rich’s Q&A:

Why are Music Maker’s partner artists important to you?

This music is living history and the musicians that make it are critical and solely responsible for it continuing on. Knowing that there is permanent record of Music Maker’s archives at Wilson Library at UNC is great thing.

Why is it important for others to give?

Ironing Board Sam & Rich

It’s important to give so that these musicians can continue to get through. I remember when I first met Ironing Board Sam, I was new to Music Maker and Sam had recently moved to Hillsborough because he was facing eviction from his home in Rock Hill, SC. He was staying at my house for a performance in DC that Music Maker set up for him and had all the clothing he owned in two plastic grocery bags. Seeing the harsh reality of Sam’s situation resonated with me, so I immediately ran out and bought him a new suit to perform in that night.

Do you have a favorite Music Maker Artist or memory from a Music Maker event that you would like to share?

Several years ago, Ironing Board Sam and Tim (MMRF Founder) came to my house in DC and when they arrived, before even entering the house, Sam looked at me and said, “I had a dream about playing a grand piano in your house”. I was stunned. A week before, I had gotten a Steinway Model “O” grand piano! Sam sat down and played for hours, his dream had come true.

Do you think it was important for MMRF to hire a Social worker?

Hiring a social worker was a stroke of genius and allows Music Maker to help our partner artists more while also taking the foundation to a new level of professionalism. I’m so impressed with the work Brittany Anderson (MMRF social worker) has done so far and the opportunity for growth that this acquisition has created. The context we gain from having a staff social worker also bolsters our communications and ability to explain the underlying social situations our partner artists are dealing with.

How does it make you feel when you give to Music Maker?

I was raised in a community that helped everybody. This is my community now. When I give to Music Maker it fulfills something that I believe everyone wants to feel, and that feeling comes through helping others. That’s what’s so great about Music Maker, the foundation’s work is so direct it forms a community that I am proud to be a part of.

What is worth keeping is worth passing on,

help preserve American Culture.

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