Thanks to a very generous donation of $4,500 from both the District Rotary Club 7890 and the Rotary Club of Ludlow, the Baird Middle School Harmony Bridge Program will continue their goal of bringing the joy of music to residents at local nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities on a monthly basis. This special program bridges the gap between generations, and teaches students about empathy for others, and service to their community.
Ms. Taryn Smith, BMS Band Director and the Harmony Bridge adviser, explained that last year the club approached the Rotary Club of Ludlow, hoping for financial support. “Our missions are so aligned in service above self, that we felt the fit would be perfect. A small group of students shared their own personal experiences as members of the program and presented a live performance at a Rotary meeting in the spring. We feel very fortunate that the members loved the program, and decided to partner with us.”
Smith explained the overriding objective of the Harmony Bridge Program is to “teach our students about self-confidence, not only while performing, but also when speaking to an audience. When students and residents share personal information, after performances, often special connections are made, as they learn just how much they actually have in common.”
“I met with Ms. Smith earlier in the school year about this program and gave her my full support,” shared Baird Middle School Principal, Mrs. Stacy Monette. “I love what it represents; that students share their love of music and build relationships with seniors. The students love it, and Ms. Smith’s passion for the program is evident and highly contagious.”
In addition to the monetary support, Smith reports that Rotary Club members will also be present at each of the Harmony Bridge performances, and will assist in networking with local facilities, with the hope of expanding the number of facilities they visit. Currently students perform at HealthSouth, Keystone Commons and Life Care of Wilbraham, but are excited at the possibility of expanding their program to other facilities.
Smith shared that their first performance of the year is scheduled for November 22nd at the HealthSouth Rehabilitation facility in Ludlow.
Since the beginning, the Harmony Bridge Program, has been well received by students. Smith explained that this year students who moved onto Ludlow High School have requested to continue being a part of the Harmony Bridge Program. When learning this, Smith viewed this as an opportunity for “another way to bridge the age gap, but in a slightly different way; by introducing a student mentoring component into the mix. LHS students now perform with students as young as 6th grade, all working toward one mission-- bringing joy to people's lives through music. The benefits are truly endless.”
Smith explained that additional financial support is still needed for various expenses, stating that they still owe just under $2,000 for the initial training they received last year, and will additionally need money to finish paying for the books students currently use, to support the student expansion from last year and to purchase additional music books. The group would also like to purchase t-shirts for the student performers and adult volunteers to wear during these community performances, displaying both the Harmony Bridge and Rotary logos.
“We are happy to accept donations of any size toward our continued efforts,” shared Smith. “If someone has a family member in one of these facilities, or simply just sees the value of this wonderful program for our students and seniors, we ask that you consider contributing. We can't do this without the members of the community.”
Anyone who wishes to learn more about this program or wants to support their mission, they can contact Smith directly at email@example.com or by calling Baird Middle School at 413 583- 5685.
Ms. Darlene Rae, President of Ludlow Rotary Club, and Mrs. Kelli McKenney, Rotary Club Member, presented the check to Ms. Taryn Smith and Harmony Bridge students.