Kids in Hospitals, Music, the Real Deal—What’s Not to Like?
Bob Tigert just "sorta fell into" his volunteer position on the board of the Ukulele Kids Club. "When they asked me, I had never heard of it. 'What is that?' I had to ask." A ukulele (and guitar and bass) player, Bob quickly decided the organization was the "real deal"—grassroots, amazingly noble, and very effective in the execution of its mission, which is two-fold:
Less than five years old, UKC has already changed the lives of nearly 5,000 children in close to 200 hospitals in multiple states and now Canada simply by providing music therapists this simple instrument. The ukulele allows them to teach the children how to make music while confined to their hospital bed. Small enough to be easily held, ukuleles are super easy to learn to play. With the help of the therapist, patients quickly begin playing tunes and singing. They have something creative, uplifting, and fun to focus on instead of what is wrong and hurting. Music becomes part of their healing.
Volunteers do not go to the hospitals to help the children directly. That is the role of the professional music therapists. Volunteers put their efforts into raising the funds to buy the ukuleles that the therapists will use with the child and then leave for the child to continue to play at home. Purchased through a special arrangement with an instrument-making company, each ukulele costs only $40.
Volunteers get to use their creativity too in raising funds. Often the event is a concert by musicians—a natural fit. But in New Orleans, the tattoo parlors each take a ukulele and paint it with their special artistry and then sell the "tattooed" ukes online, last year raising $15,000. Volunteers use whatever skills they bring in support of the fundraising efforts. Bob's career had been as a videographer. He has put his skill back to work to tell the story of the Ukulele Kids Club. You can see his video on the website.
Unlike Bob, you as a volunteer don't have to play a ukulele. But like Bob, you simply need to care about kids in hospitals, recognize the power of music to bring healing, and value being part of a real-deal organization that is definitely changing lives.
To learn more about Ukulele Kids Club, to see Bob’s video, or to donate, visit theukc.org.