In 2004, our Phish fan volunteer charity, The Mockingbird Foundation, established a special emergency grant fund of 3% of our revenues to make emergency grants to public schools and youth music programs which lost instruments to vandalism and storm damage. We have since donated over $15,000 in $1,000 emergency grants after several acts of vandalism and natural disasters.
It appears that that there will be a similar need for emergency storm damage grants as schools and community youth music programs begin to dig out from the effects of last week's Hurricane Sandy and assess damage to musical instruments in their band and orchestra rooms.
We received this letter yesterday from a public school teacher, Elizabeth Altbacker, of the Long Beach public schools on Long Island by email and want to share it with you so that you can get a sense of how devestating these natural disasters are to already cash-strapped youth music programs, and how you can help:
To: Ellis Godard (email@example.com)
A fellow teacher directed me to your site. I teach in the Long Beach City Schools on Long Island. I am the Middle School Band teacher, more than that, I am an alumni of Long Beach City Schools. Our Middle School sits on a half mile stretch of land surrounded by the ocean and the bay. During Hurricane Sandy water destroyed the town I grew up in but it did not break the spirit of the students and their families. On our first day back to school we had about 80% attendance!
Right now I am dealing with the unknown. Although our district opened, our building did not. I was able to peak into my band room but could not assess the damage. There was water in the room I can tell by the silt and sand on the floor but it was too dark to see very far. My concern is of course the mold that is growing the longer the instruments sit in a damp room.
This band room was my band room as a child. I remember in 1986 when my band director ordered the drum set my student continue to play on. Like so many instruments, I remember their history, which of my friends played them. When I assign kids instruments, I often tell them how old they are and how I took such pride in inheriting them from my teacher. For the past 18 years, I have carefully maintained the instruments I've inherited and built the inventory to a point that every child who needs an instrument gets one. This is very important in a city where there is a high rate of free lunches given.
I hope I will get into my room and see that everything is fine, however I know that not to be case, if it was on the floor it was ruined, and maybe those in lockers are ruined if the mold is bad. On top of that the instruments that were home with children may or may not have gotten washed away or thrown away if they were damaged. I hope to keep an open line of communication with your organization in hopes that you can help rebuild the program that raised me so that I can continue to give my students what my teacher gave me.
Here's how you can help: Go to the "donate" link on the Phish.net or Mockingbird Foundation (mbird.org) homepages and donate $5, $10 or as much as you can through PayPal. You can also go directly to PayPal (www.paypal.com) and use our PayPal donations address, "firstname.lastname@example.org". If you donate through PayPal, put "Sandy Relief" or "Emergency Relief" in the comment box.
Or you can mail a check to the Mockingbird Foundation Emergency Fund c/o Treasurer Ellis Godard, 12407 Willow Grove Court, Moorpark, CA 93021-2758
As always, donations to Mockingbird are fully tax-deductable. Many corporate employers and the federal government may also "match" your donation. If your company has such a charities "matching grants" program, contact your HR department. (We have been the beneficiary of several large donations this year through Phish fans who work for such generous companies).
If you're in a band, you can host a disaster relief benefit event for Mockingbird like The Lawn Boys' successful event last week at The Canal Room in New York City. We can help with publicity, street team materials and tabling volunteers through Phish.net. Contact Jack Lebowitz (email@example.com) if you can possibly help stage a benefit, for further information.
If you are a teacher or youth music program leader who knows of any candidates for emergency relief grants, please contact us by email at "firstname.lastname@example.org" or Ellis Godard's mailing address above.
Thanks for all you can do to help!! Phish fans' donations to The Mockingbird Foundation for music education for kids is one of the best things you can do to pay the incredible gift of music forward to the next generation, and helps us all leave a positive legacy!