August 2021 Newsletter

August 2021 Newsletter
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    Inspiring Hope
    August 2021

    Director’s Corner: Young volunteers made 1200 cards for Surfside, Florida. Mcpadnet shipped all of them out to two state senators, Senator Lauren Book in Plantation, Fl, and Senator Jason Pizzo in Miami, FL. The response from the volunteers in Maryland and Virginia was swift and immense!  (See one of these letters to the Senators below.)

    We also shipped USBs to President Joseph R. Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and family.  We always send the kids' inspiring music to the President of the United States as sincere messages of hope for a better world. (See the letter below.)

    This issue of our newsletter contains a nice mixture of articles on the music and stories that we facilitate, told from the viewpoints of various people involved in preparing, sharing, and enjoying these efforts to bring a little joy.

    Many thanks to those whose strong affirmations of hope, love, courage, and compassion reach out to communities near and far in the road to recovery ahead.

     Letter to Senator Pizzo

    Senator Jason Pizzo
    5582 N.E. 4th Court. Suite 7B
    Miami, FL 33137

    Dear Senator Pizzo:
    We send our deepest concern for the community in Surfside, Florida. Our hearts are so sad for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, for those who have lost friends, for those who have been first responders, and for the Surfside community at large.

    The Tacy Foundation is sending a donation of handmade cards from children and teens in the Nation’s Capital Area.  We send these cards as heartfelt thoughts and prayers for the recovery of the devastated community.

    During the COVID-19 quarantine, youth of all ages have been busy sending videos to a Tacy Foundation YouTube private playlist. From their homes, they have built a Virtual Concert Library of their favorite songs for seniors and hospitals. We will extend this private playlist to your communities as well in a follow-up message.
    May you find the strength, courage, and hope to build lives of love and purpose.  Thank you for distributing these cards from us for Surfside.  
    Charlotte Holliday, Founder and Executive Director

    The Tacy Foundation

    PO Box 2334

    Germantown, MD 20875

    301 916-1439

    Letter to President and First Lady Biden

    President Joseph R. Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear President and Dr. Biden:

    In appreciation for your service as the President of the United States and First Lady, The Tacy Foundation youth send this donation of music from children and teens in the Nation’s Capital Area.  The music USBs represent our heartfelt thank you gift for your continued service through COVID-19 and its aftermath. We are your neighbors in Maryland and Northern Virginia, and we know firsthand the ravages of the corona virus.  The children’s parents are teachers, first responders, doctors, nurses, public servants, small business owners, corporate executives, immigrants, rich, middle-class, and poor who volunteer to serve the community through music and story, inspiring hope as they learn generosity, compassion, and perseverance.

    We thank you for your many years of service as Senator, Vice-President, and now as President of the United States. The assortment of USBs includes solo performances of teens playing their best music for you. The inserts contain bios and information with their personal message of inspiring hope for healing. 

    During the COVID-19 quarantine, local youth of all ages have been busy sending videos to a Tacy Foundation YouTube private playlist. From their homes during lockdown, the children have built a Virtual Concert Library of their favorite songs for seniors and hospitals. They extend this music also to you, your family and staff, whose courage is extraordinary. 

    May the music play on in your hearts and in your lives.  Thank you!

    Charlotte Holliday, Founder and Executive Director

    The Tacy Foundation
    PO Box 2334
    Germantown, MD 20875
    301 916-1439

    Asbury Residents Reflect on Musical Childhoods and Careers

    Children and teens from The Tacy Foundation probably remember performing live music every month at Asbury Methodist Village. They practice a piece for hours, dress up in semi-formal clothes and wait patiently for their turn at the piano bench. But volunteers may not be aware of the rich lives of many audience members at these monthly recitals.

    The 20877 Asbury location is home to thousands of retirement-aged people from all walks of life, many of whom grew up surrounded by music. Ruthie Swain was born in 1923 in Winnipeg, Canada and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. Now a resident of the Kindley building, Swain regularly attended The Tacy Foundation’s recitals before COVID. She has taught piano professionally for 60 years and still does to this day.

    As a young girl, Swain was first introduced to the piano through her mother, a piano teacher. She began taking lessons from her pastor’s wife, a piano teacher at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Swain studied music and journalism at Wheaton College in Chicago, then pursued a job teaching piano to children and adults.

    “As a matter of fact, I like teaching adults,” Swain said. “Adults don’t have a mother to make them practice, so they practice because they want to, whereas children practice because their parents want them to.”

    Swain said that teaching piano is rewarding since she enjoys both her students and music.

    “There’s always something new to learn, always something new to find out,” Swain said. “Students have all kinds of ideas, and I have liked the variety of teaching piano because of it. It’s never boring. I’ve taught for 60 years, and I’ve never been bored.”

    In fact, Swain said she currently teaches, although the pandemic has been an obstacle for face-to-face lessons. Her two students, ages 82 and 70, are looking forward to beginning piano lessons in person again, which lifts her spirits after a year and a half of quarantine. 

    Swain has two daughters who are also musically inclined; the elder received a college scholarship for oboe and the younger played piano. Swain said she hopes above all else that future generations continue to pursue learning, whether musical, academic or something else entirely.

    “I hope that the young people are going to take advantage of learning good things,” Swain said. “They’re going to be serious about developing their talents.”

    In her late 90s, Swain shows no signs of slowing down.

    Harry Deffley was born in April 1925 and grew up in central Illinois. He was surrounded by German-speaking relatives, including his grandmother and five uncles. Because his parents were both religious, Deffley attended United Methodist Sunday School.

    When he wasn’t at Sunday school, Deffley spent his childhood working on the farms for the Amish and Mennonite; he shot goats, shucked corn, and milked and herded cattle. In fourth grade, Deffley picked up the violin, learning how to play by ear. The following year, a new music teacher – who was well-versed in strings and brass instruments – came to Deffley’s school. This teacher mentored Deffley on the trombone, allowing him to reach an almost professional level. At the time, he was also taking piano lessons to learn classical music.

    After high school, during World War II, Deffley was summoned to be an electrician’s mate for the Navy. He studied electrical technology at Purdue University, then went on to serve five years as an electrician’s mate, getting to travel to the Philippines and back.

    When Deffley returned home, in 1944, he signed with a broadcast choir and joined college choir and a capella groups. He also frequented the local university to practice piano, which is where Deffley met his wife. 

    “My wife, Barbara, she came from a musical family,” Deffley said. “She said this red-headed guy came in and sat down and started playing…a song or two there, and she fell for me.”

    Deffley said he later found out that Barbara was his younger sister’s roommate. He married Barbara, his “sweetheart,” in 1950, and they remained together until her death two years ago. 

    After getting married, Deffley began taking organ lessons, later becoming a pastor at the United Methodist ministry. Although he no longer has use of his fingers for piano playing now, Deffley said he has countless fond memories from a lifetime of learning music.  

    – Zoe Bell

    Reflections on Tacy’s Work from the Residential Facilities

    Student volunteer Susan Lin contacted key staff at two facilities to solicit their feedback and reflections on The Tacy Foundation’s activities. Below are Susan’s questions and the responses (in writing and from an interview, respectively) from Adina Cimpean (AC) of Tall Oaks Assisted Living and Sonia Rodriguez (SR) of Shady Grove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

     1. How have you personally been impacted by the Tacy Foundation?

    AC: Music is of outmost importance to the human spirit, especially for the seniors who resonate to classical music and benefit from it the most. Collaborating with the Tacy Foundation is a privilege and an honor as the musical programs they bring to our community are of the highest quality and impeccable professionalism. When the pandemic started, they found a way to perform virtually periodically so that the residents will continue to enjoy their music and stay connected with the youth.

    SR: The Tacy Foundation is the best thing that happened, not personally to me, but to the institution, to Shady Grove Center.

    2. How has the Tacy Foundation benefited the people you serve?

    AC: For persons who are affected by memory loss, music is one of the things they can still enjoy, and it brings them joy every time. As they can no longer travel and attend concerts, the Tacy Foundation brings the concerts to their home, and this is an extraordinary act of humanity! Many residents cannot attend their grandchildren’s musical performances, so they relate to the young musicians as they would relate to their grandchildren playing in concerts.
    SR: It’s a blessing for us. All the donations they were able to give provided a lot of benefits for the residents, not just material things, but also communicating with them. Comments are always positive.

    3. How has the gift of music impacted yourself along with those whom you interact with (seniors and staff)?

    AC: It is a very special day when the Tacy Foundation youth performers come into our community, and everybody is putting effort into getting ready for it: the team members ensure the residents wear their Sunday-best attire: pearls are worn, hats come out of the closet, I even saw some binoculars, as the residents wanted to see the performance better.
    SR: Music is the best medicine for everyone.

    4. What music have the residents enjoyed or cherished the most? What music do they request? Does their memory improve with certain types of songs or music in general? What instruments do they enjoy the most?

    AC: Our residents enjoy a variety of music, but classical pieces are always a hit. They truly enjoy the classics.

    SR: Some like classical, rock and roll, jazz; whatever the Tacy Foundation brings makes them happy; it’s a group that likes different genres; they enjoy all kinds of music. 

    5. What has been the most helpful or successful service done during Covid and why?

    AC: Definitely, the virtual performances and the constant communication with our residents. The Tacy Foundation representatives built a bridge between the young musicians and our seniors, a musical bridge that was built with bricks of cards and letters.

    SR: The art kits, magazines, snacks, and donations…everything was wonderful, but the art kits they enjoy very much. During Covid, they were always asking on the weekends because they would feel sad and depressed [Saturdays and Sundays are when they needed music and joy the most because there is only one staff member, while there are three staff members on other days].

    6. Which activities do you/residents look forward to the most and what do they mean to you/them?

    AC: Our residents look forward to human interaction. The pandemic caused isolation and depression. We feel like we can never have enough interaction after going through a year of isolation and restrictions, so hosting the performers in our community is one of their favorite activities as it brings new, talented people every time, people that they can interact with and relate to, people who share the gift of music with them. We will not spare any effort to continue hosting the musicians at Tall Oaks as they bring so much joy and lots of smiles on our residents’ faces!

     7. In general, what can the Tacy Foundation do for the seniors at their facilities to engage them and bring them back to their full lives after the devastating pandemic?

     SR: Music. And music. All the music the Tacy Foundation brought before Covid.

     8. Any last words?

     SR: Keep doing the job you guys are doing. Thank you to everybody and Ms. Holliday. Everything we are doing I cannot do myself.

    Enjoying the Challenge of Composing
    Hi! I’m Lumina Zhang, and I am a rising freshman. I have been playing piano for eight years. Before learning from Mr. Tacy through the Tacy Foundation, I never thought that I would be able to compose. However, when I saw that the Tacy Foundation was offering Composer’s Circle, I decided to give it a try. Through this wonderful opportunity, I found out that I am very passionate about writing music, and I felt like I found a new world that was just waiting for me to explore. I gained confidence and found joy in composing.
    Lumina Zhang
    Composer’s Circle allowed me to learn how to create different pieces of music, express myself, and use my creativity. I have written a waltz, an invention, and have just finished the first movement of my first sonata.

    Composing a sonata is a little challenging as it is long and complex, but I feel very proud that I have accepted the challenge. When I compose, I can feel the magic of music, and it really helps me cope with the pandemic. I am proud of my progress in writing music, and the more I compose, the more I love it. I will continue learning composing from Mr. Tacy, and I look forward to sharing my music with others. I want to truly thank Mr. Tacy for being such a wonderful composing teacher and Ms. Holliday for giving me this opportunity. The Tacy Foundation has really inspired me so much, and I am very glad to be a part of this welcoming community.

    The Art and Power of Stories

    Nancy Bo Flood

    It’s not every day that you see a post-doctoral scientist retire to write picture books for children. Nancy Bo Flood, a former medical doctor and researcher living in western Colorado, did just that.

    Flood spent years studying brain development, even operating on fish brains, in an effort to understand neurological psychology. She said she always had an interest in children and their brain function, which opened the door to working with children with disabilities. From there, Flood realized the power of storytelling.

    “I found that story was probably one of the strongest ways of healing as well as understanding what is causing this emotional pain,” Flood said. “It’s story for all ages because I’d be working with children who were nonverbal…, but they could draw, play with puppets, play with a dollhouse, and express what they were feeling or what they were troubled about…”

    Flood chose to begin writing her own stories so that children could more closely relate to a book character. “There’s a sense of connection to others,” Flood said. “I think [story] really helps with not feeling like ‘there’s something wrong with me,’ or guilt or shame.”

    But how does experience in experimental and developmental psychology relate to storytelling? Flood places great emphasis on observation, a skill that has enhanced her numerous careers. “Being a research scientist, you understand the importance and the power of observation. As a therapist, it’s the same thing. When you are watching a child draw or play, it’s the observation as much as what the child is even saying,” Flood said. “To be a good writer, you need to observe.”

    A successful author uses the “show, don’t tell” method, according to Flood. Since most of her works are picture books, a character could be illustrated with clenched fists and shifted eyes rather than simply the statement, “He was angry.” All of these emotions, down to the slightest movements, are captured through close observation of real-life experiences.

    Flood had the opportunity to observe an inclusive dance company in motion. Her daughter-in-law, Gretchen Pick, is the executive director of Young Dance in Minneapolis, MN, where Flood would often sit in on classes and rehearsals.

    There, she met 10-year-old Eva, a girl in a wheelchair who was born with cerebral palsy. Out of all the young dancers – children and adults of all abilities – Eva stood out. “I particularly would watch [her] dance because of the joy on her face. She loved it,” Flood said. 

    Eva was the inspiration behind Flood’s picture book I Will Dance, which was released in May 2020 and became the New York Times’ top dance book of that year. Flood said she hopes that the book will help others realize that they too can work through challenges and achieve their lifelong dreams.
    I Will Dance

    In fact, without an obstacle or challenge, there is no substantial story arc. Flood said that the process of writing a children’s book first requires observing the dancers and their movements, facial expressions and interactions. Next is the interviewing and recording stage, during which Flood said she speaks with various dancers about their experiences and thoughts. After reading other, similar children’s books for research, the final step is to find a connection or the author’s “way” into the story, as Flood puts it.

    “You’re looking for universal emotions that you’re connecting,” Flood said. “What is the storyline? What obstacles have to be overcome? How do things get worse before they get better?”

    For I Will Dance, that challenge is Eva’s stepping outside of her comfort zone to take dance lessons. Since Eva uses a wheelchair, she would be hoisted up in her chair by a contraption with a piston close to the studio’s ceiling. Flood said that at one point, Eva thought she wanted to turn her wheelchair around and leave, a common feeling before taking a risk.

    “Whatever our challenges that we’re trying to meet, all of us feel like quitting at some point or running away, and I knew I wanted to bring that in,” Flood said.

    Encouraging Understanding and Pride in Traditions

    Flood is also the author of Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo, based on her nearly two decades of living in the Navajo Nation. In addition to teaching at Diné College and Northern Arizona University, Flood worked with teachers who were trying to promote early literacy among Navajo children.

    “The Navajo teachers were [telling] me we have so few books that Navajo children can see themselves in,” Flood said. “They said, ‘Please, we need a book about the land, the place, the people.’”

    Flood said she wanted to highlight the joys of living in the Navajo Nation, from taking care of animals and ranching to helping around the family farm. These joys, she said, are under- represented in books and stories about the Navajo people. “There were no books at all about Navajo or rodeo,” Flood recalled. “I thought it’s important for the kids to see themselves in a book, and that was my biggest motivation: to have them see themselves in a book in which Navajo is being celebrated.”

    Flood said she wanted to share the unique culture with readers who may be unfamiliar with Navajo customs. “…They respect all living things. They have an expression, hozho, [which translates to] ‘walk in beauty,’ which is in our language closer to ‘walk in harmony’ with all things: the land, the air, the water, the animals and each other,” Flood said. “Walk in harmony. Walk in beauty. Hozho.”

    Cowboy Up! has had a tangible positive impact on Navajo children. Flood said that at a second-grade class reading of her book, a young boy in the front row raised his hand and lifted his shirt to show Flood his champion belt buckle from a rodeo.

    “And then he says, ‘I am in this book,’” Flood said. “That is the whole joy of creating a book for children. ‘I am in this book. I’m here too.’”

    Flood said representation is so important, especially for young children, because seeing oneself reflected in a book creates validation and self-esteem. “When you don’t see yourself in a book, it’s like someone is saying to you, ‘You really don’t count. You really don’t matter,’” Flood said. “’I’m not important enough that there [are] books that have me in them.”

    Flood began a nonprofit organization, Read at Home, to promote early literacy, which she said is a challenge on the Navajo reservation. Read at Home encourages children to read with their families beginning from a young age.

    The organization uses its donations to send an issue of Highlights Magazine home with each pre-school student. With bold illustrations and kid-friendly activities, magazines are “less threatening” than books, according to artist and illustrator S.D. Nelson – a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the Dakotas.

    Even with the nonprofit organization and daily book readings at local libraries and schools, Flood said she has a few more books in the works. Her next book release is expected to be in early 2023. Flood’s Walking Grandma Home is a picture book that deals with loss of a loved one. 

    The Tacy Foundation’s Reading Express® Program

    Despite the lockdown restraints of COVID these past 15 months, the Foundation’s Reading Express® program has transformed into a private playlist library in which student volunteers record videos of themselves reading stories aloud.  This project has continued to reach many children through the efforts of children and parents to find and reord individual stories to submit to the Chief Intern high school student, Pratyusha Mandal.  This list grows every week with new stories and pictures from children’s books, including those written and illustrated by children and teens, thanks to everyone’s efforts from home.

    In 2009, shortly after The Tacy Foundation became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Claudia Tacy Scott created the Reading Express. Her own school-sponsored Story Hour on the Navajo Reservation started as she searched for books for her Navajo preschoolers to see and hear. Out of her lifelong interest in children’s imagination, especially that of underprivileged children, she offered to come to Maryland for the Foundation’s mission “to inspire hope.” During her summer teaching break, she brought Reading Express events to public libraries and initialized the program. She also presented at Walter Reed Medical Center Austin’s Room and at NIH’s The Children’s Inn.

    In the winter, Ms. Scott traveled again from Chinle, AZ to present an interactive PowerPoint presentation to Gaithersburg Elementary School, the library, and a public housing residence. Along with the interactive story and music, Ms. Scott provided 400 cups of hot chocolate, gold train tickets for The Polar Express, and a bell for every student.

    Scott’s original idea is now trademarked and part of the Title 1 Piano Pals® and Reading Express® after-school classes during the school year. Teens volunteer their music and reading gifts to children who cannot afford music lessons. Teens read books with stories that excite the imagination for these children.  Ms. Scott now serves as a Board Member of the Foundation and as an advisor for The Reading Express®.

    Out of a professional appreciation for Scott’s work, Flood offered her books for the video library. The Reading Express® YouTube link is received by Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.  It is broadcast on the closed-circuit television station to each patient’s room. The private playlist will be offered to Title 1 public schools in 2021-2022 school year.

    In an email to Mrs. Holliday, Flood wrote that connecting with the Foundation has great meaning for her. She hopes that hospital patients and families find encouragement through Eva’s story (from I Will Dance).

    – Zoe Bell

    The Joys of Stories and Origami

    Hello. My name is Samuel, and I am a rising sixth grader at Rosa Parks Middle School. Recently, I have been recording audiobooks for children’s hospitals through the Tacy Foundation.

    I want to bring joy to the children in the hospital by allowing them to enjoy fun adventures and magical lands. I recorded Alice in Wonderland, which is a fun book with lots of fantasy and magic, and I hope that it will amuse them as it did for me the first time I read it. I have always liked listening to audiobooks. Reading books is one thing. However, actually listening to the sound and the voice of the characters adds a whole new perspective to the book, which brings the characters alive. This creates an effect of actually being in the story. I hope that these audiobooks will bring some joy to the children in the hospital.

    To provide another layer of amusement to the child audience, I added origami GIF animations into the audiobook (for example: Ever since I got an origami book as a Christmas present when I was six, I have liked origami. It has inspired me to love nature, so when I was looking for things to design, I started to watch nature documentaries. It has also entertained me, encouraged my creativity, and expanded my knowledge. With one sheet of paper, no matter what shape or size, you can create anything; the possibilities are endless. Origami has changed my life, and I have enjoyed it ever since. I put the origami in, so that I could share the magical experience with other kids. I also put it there so that they could have extra entertainment in a visual form. I sincerely hope that the origami and this audiobook will empower the children in the hospital and provide them with joy and comfort. 

    I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Holiday and Pratyusha for this book recording opportunity. Thank you! -- Samuel Wang

    Samuel Wang

    Educational Mission: Foster youth development through music, story and mentoring

    Philanthropic Mission: Empower youth to discover and use their gifts in service to others

    Social Mission: Build community partnerships and create intergenerational connections

    Whom We Serve




    Service members



    Economically disadvantaged

    Individuals who want to serve


    How We Serve (Programs)

    Live music concerts

    Reading Express®

    Piano Pals®

    Guitar Pals®

    Composers’ Circle

    Music USBs

    Musical equipment

    COVID projects through video, email, cards, puzzles for outreach to the community 

    Charlotte Holliday, Founder and Executive Director

    Matthew D. Scott, Graphic Editor

    Michael Favin, Chief Editor

    Siddharth Kondam, Teen Editor

    Ethan Schenker, Teen Editor

    Donations are appreciated.  All adult and teen staff are volunteers.  No salaries or benefits. Every dollar you donate goes to supplies for all projects offered to the community.  

    Thank you!  

    Donate online via PayPal at:

    Or send your donation to: 

    The Tacy Foundation 

    Box 2334

    Germantown, Maryland 20875

    Ask to donate a portion of your order to The Tacy Foundation.  The Foundation will receive a small percentage of your purchases.  A very easy way to donate at no additional cost to you!

    Copyright © 2021 The Tacy Foundation, All rights reserved
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