Music, Charity and Art

On Friday Oct. 24 I attended a charitable arts event in Palm Beach Gardens put on by chArt, an Orlando-based organization whose goals are “raising funds for charities and awareness for the arts”. Music for the evening was provided by Inspirit, itself a charitable organization, dedicated to the purpose of bringing live music to people in facilities such as rehab units, hospitals and senior centers. Performing under the Inspirit banner on Friday was the country/bluegrass duo Illumination, consisting of my friends Suzanne Cannon on guitar and Ginny Meredith on violin. But Ginny is more than just an Inspirit performer; she’s actually the founder of the organization. And I’m happy to say that I wasn’t just a spectator, I was actually the accidental matchmaker who brought these two organizations together for this event.

Earlier this year, I attended chArt’s previous Palm Beach event to support my friend Lauren Lester, an Orlando singer-songwriter who came down to perform for the occasion. While at the event, I picked up a copy of chArt Magazine, published quarterly. As I read this periodical, it dawned on me that an article on my friend Ginny’s organization would be a good fit for this magazine.  Through my friend Lauren, I was able to make contact with the editor of the publication, Casey Swann.  Casey was open to the idea of publishing an article on Inspirit if Ginny’s organization provided music for the next chArt Palm Beach event, so five months later it all came together at the same venue, the Palm Beach Gardens branch of the BB&T Bank…

My Inspirit article for chArt Magazine won’t be published till its winter issue, but you can read a sneak preview of it below. (And look for a longer version of this article coming soon to the Type M page.)

 

Inspirit: The Gift of Music

 

Lake Worth violinist Ginny Meredith received the inspiration for Inspirit while on a ski trip in Utah. A former roomate of hers in Salt Lake City had founded a non-profit organization called Heart and Soul to provide live music free of charge to institutions such as senior centers and rehab units. This struck a chord with Ginny, as two years prior to that,  she had relied on music to help her cope with chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

 

Upon her return to South Florida, Ginny decided to research whether local facilities would find such a service valuable. The response to her surveys was overwhelmingly positive, so in June 2000, she founded Inspirit as a 501(c) non-profit. Even before any funding was secured, the organization put on its first performance at the Heartland Health Care center in Palm Beach Gardens. Since then, Inspirit has gone on to provide live music for about 22,000 people over the course of its existence, in venues such as senior centers, hospitals and shelters.

 

Inspirit has an active roster of about 20-25 musicians, used to put on about 10-12 performances a month. About 50-100 musicians have participated in Inspirit over the years; according to Ginny, the musicians really like doing these performances because of how appreciative the audiences are. In conceiving Inspirit, says Ginny, “I had no idea… the impact it was gonna have on the performer. I was just thinking of it as a one-way thing, but the performers are really transformed.”

 

As for the facilities where Inspirit has put on performances, Ginny states, “I have a whole file of thank-you letters; they’re just so appreciative… One of the things that’s great, I think, besides providing the music, is that we’re showing people that somebody cares.”

 

For more information on Inspirit, please visit www.inspiritlive.org online or contact Ginny Meredith at (561) 586-4537

4 thoughts on “Music, Charity and Art

  1. I can’t wait to read it either! I would love to see things like this in rehab centers in places like WV. When Dad was still in intensive care, B-Dub made a few CDs of music from the 1960s and we brought a CD player to his room. Mom said he’d pep up and you’d see recognition in his face when he’d hear certain songs. It was really cool.

  2. Thanks for the words of encouragement, GoDub and Erin… I’m about halfway through the article, so I’m looking to have it done by the end of the week…

    I would love to see things like this in rehab centers in places like WV.

    The cool thing is, this idea has been making its way across the nation. Ginny’s friend in Utah was herself inspired by a similar organization in San Francisco: Bread and Roses, founded in the ’70s by Joan Baez’s sister, Mimi Farina. There’s also Musicians on Call, based in NYC. So maybe somebody in West Virginia will get the bug too…

    When Dad was still in intensive care, B-Dub made a few CDs of music from the 1960s and we brought a CD player to his room. Mom said he’d pep up and you’d see recognition in his face when he’d hear certain songs. It was really cool.

    This Inspirit idea strikes a chord with both of us for the same reason. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there’s an article on Type M in which I talk about one of my last good memories of my dad: when he stayed up to listen to my friend and I play guitar on the patio. So Ginny never had to convince me that Inspirit was providing a valuable service; I knew it instinctively…

  3. Update: The long version of the Inspirit article is finally published at the Type M page. For all the fans of inside-baseball talk, I must point out that it would have been up sooner had it not been for how crappy Geocities page-building tools are in comparison to WordPress, so I think this latest experience will hasten me to move the Type M page into the WordPress domain to join its Music Type brethren… Anyway, you can now read my Inspirit article in its full, unabridged glory…

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