February 2022 Newsletter


Inspiring Hope!
February 2022
♩ Director’s Corner

Forging ahead through the resurgence of shutdowns again in late December and January, we are so honored to serve in this unprecedented time! I am very proud of the teens who created fun materials for our audiences as well as all of those who made holiday cards, pictures, and even cookies!!

Since the start of COVID in March 2020, 800+ youth have enrolled, including those returning and many, many eager, new children and teens. We send our deepest appreciation to all new and returning youth enrollees, to the entire legion of volunteer adults (parents and teachers), and to businesses that support our mission of inspiring hope.  

Here now are the wonderful stories of Tacy Foundation youth.

The Story of My Volunteering Experience at The Tacy Foundation
By: Katie Wang

Katie Wang receiving the Silver Medal President's Volunteer Service Award.
Hello, my name is Katie Wang, and I am a fourth grader. I started my journey as a Tacy Foundation volunteer in the summer when I was about to enter second grade. I feel very honored to have this chance to describe my volunteering experience at the Tacy Foundation and to share my feelings.
How I started…
Why did I volunteer at Tacy? What? Aren’t we all doing this to inspire hope through the power of music? Well, I did find this true purpose after volunteering at Tacy for some time. However, when I first started, I did it just because my older brother was doing it, and I simply couldn’t lose! I started performing piano in nursing homes and hospitals at the same time as my brother. I practiced a lot because I wanted to be well-prepared when I came to the concerts. My hard work paid off. After a while, I had a growing feeling that I was able to really bring happiness and a sense of hope to the audience, which included seniors and patients. In return, the joy also came back to me and made me feel very honored.

However, even though it felt good to make others feel happy through my music, I must admit that sometimes, recitals still felt like a horrific, horrific, HORRIFIC, HORRIFIC, HORRIFIC event. And by writing “horrific” five times, you know what I mean.

What I Mean…
What I meant is that sometimes it might feel scary to perform. Imagine everyone sitting in front of you and looking keenly at you. Imagine that you have to talk and perform in front of them. I’ve always worried that I am not good enough. This worry became worse in the third grade. It just didn’t feel as easy as when I was in second grade. The recitals became so stressful that I felt as if the audience was just there to torment me (if you were in the audience, I wanted to let you know that I no longer think so!). Then there came the Covid-19 pandemic, which literally changed everything. Tacy had paused all in-person recitals, which actually gave me some relief. Instead of performing real-time, I started recording and submitting videos of me playing piano. It was much less stressful because there was no one except my family watching me. I thought it would be a great idea if all recitals would be like this forever - peaceful and easy. (What a dumb thought). I was wrong.
When Recitals Came Back…

Ding-Ding! Destination reached. This is RECITALS (with a mask) on a train. They’ve reached their destination, the Tacy Foundation. They got off the train, called an Uber, then reached Tacy… 

Above was my imagination, but recitals had indeed come back! These were different; they were not “real” and were thus called virtual (on-line) recitals. However, the stress was not a bit less than in those real ones! I signed up for five or six recitals. Every time I played in front of the webcam, it felt like I was playing in front of a thousand pairs of eyes hiding behind the camera lens. It was so scary, and I’d was way nervous. Although I did survive all of those virtual recitals I signed up for, I refused to take on more. I felt it was the dumbest thing ever.

When the In-person Recitals Came Back…
Luckily, not long after I started fourth grade, we finally beat Covid-19 by vaccines (well, to some degree). So, the in-person recitals had come back. However, after more than one year with everything “virtual,” I honestly had no idea if I was still able to perform in person, especially with the terrifying experience I had with the virtual recitals. But again, I didn’t want to be a loser, so I decided to take some risk and started with one recital a month, then two recitals a month. Suddenly, I was inspired by the hope and happiness in my music and by seeing the happy faces of the seniors. The stress was all gone, and I was able to enjoy performing again. During one recital in December 2021, Mrs. Holliday surprised me by announcing and awarding me the silver-medal President’s Volunteer Service Award. It was one of the best days in my life (I mean the first 10 years of my life)! I was very proud of myself. I am proud that I can spread hope, kindness, happiness, warmth, and love to everyone, and I will continue doing so.

I wanted to share two things I learned during my journey with the Tacy foundation:
1. Don’t be afraid of trying, even if the challenges may appear dreadful (like the virtual recitals….). Confidence is what helps you succeed.

2. If you spread hope, kindness, happiness, warmth, and love to everyone to make them feel happy, you will feel the same.

Thank you, Tacy Foundation. Thank you, Mrs. Holliday.  – Katie Wang

Fun Materials Created by Tacy Volunteers

As Omicron spread, care facilities had to suspend permission for visitors to perform live music. But that didn’t stop the Tacy volunteers. Abhijeet Ghodgaonkar prepared jokes and puzzles and Allison Oh developed a coloring book (see below) designed to engage residents and hospital patients with bright activities. These materials were printed by Evan and Andrew Bian, and are being sent to Holy Cross, Shady Grove, and Suburban hospitals, the NIH, and the Red Cross at Walter Reed.

The Tacy Foundation thanks the teens who made this project happen despite the very short notice as doors to the public closed down.


(Question and Answer)

By Abhijeet Ghodgaonkar


Q: Why can’t you trust a wildcat?

A: Because they're sometimes lion (lying).

Q: What happened to the mole after he played video games without his parents’ permission?

A: He was grounded.

Q: What is it when a construction worker can’t think?

A: A building block.

Q: What did Vikings use to communicate?

A: Norse Code

Q: Why are gardeners punctual?

A: They keep track of the thyme.

Q: What do you call it when a grizzly walks into your house?

A: Un-bear-able

            Q: Where did the frog go for              breakfast?


Q: What does a seed call his dad?

A: Poppy.

Q: What plant will you find in an inventor’s garden?

A: A spring onion.

Q: Why were all the bugs afraid of the comedian?

A: He made jokes on the fly.

Q: What is a bunny’s favorite music?

A: Hip Hop.

Q: What do stones like to listen to?

A: Rock and Roll.

How could the adventurers meet the animals?

A: By traveling by plain.

Q: What vehicle is the fastest?

A: The track-tor.

Q: Why are shapes so hard to understand?

A: They have many sides.

Q: Which dinosaur is so smart?

A: A the-saurus.



(Knock Knock)

By Abhijeet Ghodgaonkar


Knock Knock!

Who’s There?


Europe Who?

Europe next. It’s your turn.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?


Emmanuel Who?

I need Emmanuel for the robot.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?


Police Who?

Police help me!

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?


Nick Who?

I arrived in the Nick of time.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?


Esther Who?

Esther a way out of here?

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?


Sue Who?

I will Sue you!


Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


Fermi Who?

Can you do this math problem Fermi (for me)?

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


Bill Who?

Your electricity Bill is overdue!

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


Miles Who?

I’ve traveled Miles to get here.

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


Luke Who?

Luke over there!

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


Colin Who?

Weren’t you Colin me just now?

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


Will who?

Will you let me into your house?

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?

Mo Who?

Please let me Mo your lawn.

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?

Ben Who?

I’ve Ben waiting for so long!

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?

Mary Who?

Merry Christmas

Abhijeet Ghodgaonkar, creator and comedian.
Allison Oh, creator of the coloring book for The Tacy Foundation.
Tacy Foundation North

In 2019 Matthew Weber, a former MCPS student, moved to Needham, Massachusetts. As he looked for opportunities to volunteer remotely in 2020, he heard from his sister, Lizzie Weber, about the Tacy Foundation. Having formerly volunteered often in Maryland for the Tacy Foundation and having greatly enjoyed her experiences with the Foundation, Lizzie was quick to recommend the Tacy Foundation to her brother. 

After volunteering remotely with the Tacy Foundation, Matthew decided to start a satellite Tacy Club in Massachusetts in 2021 at his new school, Needham High School. He and Peter Vivaldi, his fellow musician, classmate, and friend, co-founded the club. They reached out to students involved in Needham High School’s music programs, recruiting new volunteers for the Tacy Foundation. Their efforts were aided by their Club Advisor, Mr. Ahlers, a teacher at the High School and a pillar of the community. Matthew and Peter also put themselves in contact with Needham Center at the Heights, a local senior center. After holding a brief practice performance, they organized a holiday concert to take place on December 8th at the Center.

Peter Vivaldi, Matthew Weber, Kathleen Grady, Evie Lockwood Mullaney,
Daniel Willis, and Isabelle Gilefsky (in order of right to left)

On December 8th, Peter Vivaldi, Matthew Weber, Kathleen Grady, Evie Lockwood Mullaney, Daniel Willis, and Isabelle Gilefsky (in order of right to left) met after school and walked to the Center, where they played holiday music for an audience of about 60 people! They took turns performing solos and duets of classic holiday tunes, such as Silent Night, Deck the Halls, and Frosty the Snowman. The performance lasted about 45 minutes and ended with a request from an audience member that everyone come together to sing God Bless America. The members and staff at the Center greatly appreciated the performance, and the volunteering students greatly enjoyed the experience, as well as the visible joy that they brought. Needham High School’s Tacy club looks forward to future performances at Needham Center at the Heights, as well as with other senior centers in the surrounding areas. -- Matthew Weber

Frederick Students Inspire through Music

In November 2020, amidst the COVID pandemic, I started a music club at my high school in Frederick. Our school had already been participating in Tacy Foundation’s activities, such as making cards for patients, recording music performances, producing puzzle books for seniors, and others. Carrying out the task was extremely difficult, as communicating and organizing virtually was especially challenging. 

However, more than a year later, students from Urbana High School are willing to travel 30-40 minutes to perform music at Holy Cross Germantown Hospital for patients, staff members, and visitors. This type of commitment to perform heartwarming music stems not just from the students’ passion for music, but also our desire to inspire others through music. During our latest performance, a nurse on break passed by our performance and exclaimed “What a wonderful performance! You are all so talented, god bless y’all.” 

Left to right: Minsi Hu, Kevin Zhang, William Parson, Rebecca Fan,
Winnie Chen, Ashley Qiao

Today, the club looks for more ways to “inspire through music.” We plan to start tutoring for our local middle school students on music theory and/or their instruments on January 19. Although the club is still growing, the diversity in club members’ talent guarantees tutoring abilities that range from piano to cello to trombone. We look forward to sharing more stories on our new tutoring activity in the future.
Urbana High School students participate in a holiday music ensemble

I can confidently say: starting a music club where we carried out meaningful activities also inspired me to inspire more. This series of chain reactions will reach more people as time goes on, and it certainly reached Urbana High School.

-- Rebecca Fan, Chief Intern from Frederick and President of Inspiring through Music Club of Urbana High School

A Personal Reflection

It has been a new experience and challenge for me to start back up again with live music for seniors in nursing homes. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we musicians must be more careful than ever to protect our audience. Yet even with these new obstacles, adjusting to this situation has not stopped me from doing what I love with every ounce of passion. Under my mask I cannot help myself from constantly smiling as I see the familiar faces of the seniors that I performed for over a year ago. After being away for such a while, it was refreshing and serene once again to be in front of them to perform. Seeing the seniors’ faces light up with joy when one of us plays the piano creates priceless memories for us and for them. 

The staff throughout every visit have been incredibly supportive of our mission to bring music into their homes, and for that I am so thankful because it motivates every one of us to sharpen our craft. I have noticed that with the resumption of live performances there has been an increasing number of new performers eager to play for the seniors, which makes me so happy.

Seeing the evolution of this foundation over time, from when my brother and I were the sole performers, it is amazing that this new generation of musicians is coming together to support these seniors who built our society to what it is today. I highly encourage any musicians interested in returning to playing for the seniors to do so, as I cannot even put into words how this experience will help your self-growth as a person, help the health of the seniors, and help the goal of the other performers. When we have the opportunity to bring music into the lives of others during such challenging times, every single musician is important for spreading this blessing of music. 
Thank you so much!  – Jack Bernal

A Sweet Tradition

A joyful family tradition started with my grandma and her mom, then with my mom and grandma, and now the three of us together; overall, over the span of three weekends every December, we bake eight types of cookies, 75 batches, and over 2,200 cookies. When my grandma was young, she and her mom baked three varieties of Greek cookies. After my grandma got married, she added on two varieties of her mother-in-law's German cookie recipe, because it was my grandpa's favorite. When my mom and her sister were little, they added sugar cookies and pressed cookies. The three of them perfected the recipes over the years. When my mom and aunt were teenagers, they added pistachio cookies. As soon as I was able to stand on a stool and use a cookie cutter, I was helping with the cookies, too. Over the years, we have included my friends, my mom's friends, and any family members who were visiting during the holidays to help, especially with decorating sugar cookies.  

When we finish baking all our cookies, we package and ship them to family and friends who live in other states as well as nearby. Every person gets a cookie tin with every type of cookie, plus extra of their favorite type. Every year our list of people grows as we meet new people and create new friendships leading up to Christmas. I love packaging cookies. It is so much fun to pick out a tin and the cookies to put in it. It brings us much joy to be able to share our cookies with as many people as possible, and it makes me happy to know that others enjoy them as much as I do.

This year was significant in the cookie packaging because we decided to add Asbury to our list! We made individual gift bags with three cookies for each of 125 Asbury residents. In prior years, we would bring platters of cookies to Asbury to share following the Tacy Foundation holiday piano recital. We couldn't do that this year, but we hope they enjoyed our sweet gift! 

-- Nora Paulson

My Piano Pals Experience

My first experience with Piano Pals was in the 7th grade, initially joining at the recommendation of my sister. Starting out at Fox Chapel Elementary School, I was designated to teach two students. At first, I had a difficult time connecting with the students. But through the simple conversations and small moments shared together, I began to understand how to foster the bonds necessary not only for successful teaching, but also for becoming a mentor. Many of the kids don’t have a defining role model to look up to. Although it takes only small slivers of my time, being that person to a couple of children has been a great joy. 

Through the many years at Piano Pals, I’ve come to notice the vast differences in every child. Some are very outgoing, but others are timid and shy. Some children are determined to learn the piano quickly, while some need extra guidance. However, I’ve realized that if you stay true to yourself and strive for the best in the students you teach, every child will be left in a better place than before they met their Piano Pals mentor. -- Siddharth Kondam

The Tacy Foundation

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:  www.tacyfoundation.org.

Or send your donation to: 

The Tacy Foundation 

Box 2334


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