December 2020 Newsletter

December 2020 Newsletter

Inspiring Hope In December 2020

Holiday Gift Cards

We are so grateful for and inspired by our volunteers’ effort to send personalized holiday gift cards to senior facilities and military communities across Maryland and Virginia. We started with a few hundred cards. Now, we have hundreds of cards with original designs and over 2,000 with The Tacy Foundation message. Many of these cards will be hand-delivered by Chief Interns to their senior facility.  Some will be shipped to the children of first responders, some to hospital staff, some to a Navajo senior facility, and some to military veterans’ families. We are so encouraged and proud of all the students who are designing these cards and the parents who, at times, drive miles and miles to pick up and drop off these special holiday gifts.


Evan and Andrew Bian made 660 cards to send out.  Here are some of them.
When writing the letters, I felt extremely grateful that I was helping people, and cheering them up during these tough times. It made me feel good that I was sending cards to first responders, healthcare professionals, and the sick. This was a eye opening experience that let me and others help people all around the country during this pandemic. - By Andrew Bian

I am grateful that I was able to help families during these tough times by making cards. During the process of making cards, I felt glad that I was able to help lift people’s moods and put smiles on people’s faces. Making cards was a very enlightening experience that I learned a lot from. - by Evan Bian
Volunteer Stella Schreiber, pictured below, sent her work for First Responders' Children.
She wrote a reflection about playing live music for seniors and created a graphic for this story.
Volunteer Melanie Guo wrote a reflection about her work creating holiday songs and cards.

My name is Melanie Guo and I am a 7th grade student in Kingsview Middle School in Germantown, Maryland. I heard about The Tacy Foundation about half a year ago from a friend, but I am not sure if there is anything I could do during this pandemic. Sometimes I am bored with looking at computer all the time. So when my mom got an email from The Foundation asking for volunteers to assemble holiday music for hospital patients, senior citizens, and fire fighters, I took the opportunity.
I received 100 USBs with recordings of holiday music from students like me, and I assembled them into envelopes with a music program sheet. I also heard from Mrs. Holliday that the organization was looking for cards. I’ve always liked to draw, so I asked my mom to get watercolor papers (9 in X 6 in), and I drew my own holiday water color paintings to make personal holiday cards. I drew twelve customized cards in two days. I also wrote encouraging holiday messages in each of the cards, and finally I decided to sign my cards with my name. I hope these cards will bring happiness and cheers to beloved nurses, firefighters and senior citizens. Furthermore, I started to prepare my flute piece and plan to record the piece during the Thanksgiving weekend so that I can send my own music to The Tacy Foundation to be included into next year’s USB set.
I felt really good having a way to connect with other people and offer my help during this special time. I want to thank Mrs. Holliday for her hard work for organizing this. – By Melanie Guo

An Unexpected Opportunity for Piano Pals

This fall, the The Tacy Foundation has offered virtual training for 45 teen mentors who are now ready and trained to mentor children who cannot afford piano lessons. Ten high school students provided four classes weekly using the Faber Piano Adventure Books, the same training curriculum they had experienced in the Program.  
Melanie Duong, a junior at Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland, reflected on her experience as one of the volunteers who trained other teens to teach music.

Melanie writes:

This year would have been my 4th year working with the Piano Pals program, teaching piano every Friday at Brown Station Elementary School to underprivileged students who wouldn't be able to attend lessons otherwise. My two students would learn piano from me, but I would learn so much more from them. They would teach me how to be patient, how to be encouraging, how to teach efficiently yet entertainingly (which I admit took me quite a while to learn), and so much more. Oh, the things one can learn from 6-year-olds with limitless imaginations and insatiable doe-eyed curiosity. Unfortunately, with the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, I wasn't able to go to their school and teach. Instead, I received a unique opportunity.

I was offered the opportunity of becoming a chief intern for the Piano Pals program, an opportunity I avidly accepted so I could continue to be involved in this amazing program. I wouldn’t be teaching elementary school students, but rather soon-to-be Piano Pals teachers. I had anticipated these weekly meetings to be just like virtual schooling: black screens, talking to myself, silence after every question, and to be honest, I was fine with that as long as everyone got the information they needed. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that so many people were willing to turn on their cameras, engage in our discussions, and ask so many great questions. We went through each unit of the Faber books, playing various tutorials and ensuring a thorough understanding of the material. I shared my past experiences working with Piano Pals and all of the things I learned. These weekly meetings were composed of compassionate, patient, and hard-working individuals who happily spent their Wednesday afternoons learning how to become the best piano mentors they could be. 

The privilege of working with such an amazing group of people and leaders has been a wonderful experience, and it is gratifying knowing that these new mentors will continue to share the gift of music. The Piano Pals program is one of many phenomenal programs offered by The Tacy Foundation, all of which bring music and love to our community.

Guitar Pals Virtual Training

Nickolas Fowlkes, one of the mentors, shared his reflection:

Nickolas writes:

I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to better myself as a guitar teacher and to share the joy of music. I started last fall as a Guitar Pals mentor and enjoyed the rewards of teaching. However, I had never done it before, and I am sure there was much I could improve. It was very helpful, despite the Covid-19 situation, to have formal training using a book that contained notes on how to teach concepts to new guitar students. The video conferences provided a personal and organized way to interact with other mentors. Leading the class for a session and teaching a chapter independently, as well as the practice gained from being led by my peers, was a very rewarding experience. I am sure that I am a better mentor than I was before.

Seniors and hospitals are listening to the growing Live Music Video Playlist.  Here is a link, prepared for you by Joann Wu, alumna and UMD undergrad, to a sample of songs from the over 250 songs now sending sounds of hope to the world from youth in the Nation’s Capital:

Celebrating Jessica Hoang!

The Tacy Foundation volunteer Jessica Hoang earned the Congressional Award only days ago. This award was established by the United States Congress in 1979 to "recognize initiative, service, and achievement in young people” in four categories: physical fitness, public services, personal development, and expedition.
Jessica's story, A Hero in Everyone, was written and illustrated by herself and her sister. It is the first one available at the Reading Express YouTube channel, linked here.
Jessica writes:
In earning my Congressional Award, for physical fitness, I attended swim practice and utilized endurance training to improve my times. For the voluntary public service, I volunteered at an elementary school to teach children how to play the piano in the Piano Pals Program; these were children whose families could not afford lessons. In addition to that, I participated in The Tacy Foundation Live Music performances at hospitals for passing visitors and patients. For the personal development, I focused on practicing the violin so I could continue to improve and develop my skills. Finally, for the expedition, I traveled to Pennsylvania and learned more about our country's history and saw more of what life was like outside of my community. All in all, this experience has been a great journey of self-improvement and education. – By Jessica Hoang
Introduction and Polonaise Carl Bohm
Performer: Jessica Hoang

Get Involved!
Donate To The Tacy Foundation Today!

My name is Anika Seth, and I’m a senior at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. I’ve been involved with The Tacy Foundation since the first grade, and in the eleven years since, I have had the distinct privilege of growing up both within and alongside the Foundation. Since I started in 2009, the Foundation has grown from one live performance a month at the Asbury Assisted Living Home in Gaithersburg, Maryland to over 70 live events a month all across Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the District – and that’s before we consider other projects, like CD recordings, Piano Pals Programs and Guitar Pals for Title 1 schools, Composer’s Circle, Reading Express, and fundraisers to support these programs.

In an article I wrote last year for the website’s blog describing what the Foundation means to me, I wrote that “the Foundation has taught us [volunteers] to communicate, to listen, to sympathize, and to empathize.” 

There has been no time that this sentiment has been truer than the present. We volunteers must remember that while the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect us all in different ways, we each are blessed with some level of fortune. I know that for me personally, I am lucky to have a comfortable roof over my head, relative financial stability, good health (with respect to myself and my immediate family), and above all, the unending support of my family members. Even when I feel anxious, even when I feel overwhelmed, and even when I feel alone, I have the privilege of falling back on that support, and it keeps me – and so many of us – going, taking it day by day. But for so many members of our community, especially residents of hospitals and senior homes, this is not the case. And to top it all off, they are also the demographic most predisposed to severe COVID-19 complications, making this threat still more apparent for them.

There is no time to serve like the present. Amidst quarantine, the Foundation has managed to find a way to continue to make an impact through a series of at-home COVID-19 relief activities, including compiling an online library of live music and sharing it with hospitals and senior homes. We continue to leverage music – a tool that, above all, is used for connections, for hope, and for healing – to spread light in a time of darkness. We continue to leverage music – an activity that, while often misconstrued as primarily competitive, is instead a platform to dream, to share, and to love – to demonstrate our support. And we continue to provide music to show all members of our community that even when they feel anxious, overwhelmed, and alone, we stand together in solidarity – now and always.

Our work is powered by your support – by community donations. Through your tax-deductible contributions, we can purchase keyboards, guitars, more books for Piano Pals and Guitar Pals, and a shipping of 2,000 holiday greeting cards signed by youth. You can donate at our website here or through PayPal here.

If you are unable to donate and would still like to support the Foundation or are interested in becoming involved with specific projects, reach out to me or to Siddharth Kondam at or to Mrs. Charlotte Holliday, Founder & Executive Director, at This winter, let’s all make it our priority to give back to our community. There is no time to serve like the present, and no effort is too big or too small.

Happy Holidays From
The Tacy Foundation!

Please accept the Tacy Foundation’s sincerest holiday wishes through this song composed and sung by Sydney Finch, a new Tacy Foundation volunteer
Charlotte Holliday, Executive Director
Matthew D. Scott, Graphic Editor
Anika Seth, Chief Teen Edito
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