Volunteers reflect on the Tacy Foundation’s impact over the years

Compiled by Anika Seth, Tacy Foundation Communications Intern

Having just kicked off 2020, I thought it to be an appropriate time to share personal anecdotes written by Tacy volunteers speaking to the impact of the Foundation. Below are short testimonials from a few individuals; there is a contextualizing paragraph as needed included in italics above each. Longer narratives by other volunteers, like Nikita Lal; Zoe Bell; Daniel Zhu; and myself, can be found in other blog posts on the website. Happy new year to you and your loved ones—I hope you will consider donating to the Tacy Foundation this year to help further such activities. Thank you!

Rishabh Saha

Rishabh Saha is a recent graduate of Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville and is currently in the middle of his first year at the University of Maryland on the pre-medical track. He organized the Guitar Program in the earliest stages at Parkland Middle School.  Through his efforts, the Guitar Pals program has expanded to Brown Station Elementary School, where the program is offered two days a week during the school year; Fox Chapel Elementary School, in the form of a summer program; and the Tanglewood Housing Opportunities Commission, where a Kensington middle school student teaches 11 students every Monday as part of his Bar Mitzvah project.

My name is Rishabh Saha. I am a recent graduate of Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville and will be attending the University of Maryland (UMD) in the Fall. I want to take a moment to thank Mrs. Holliday and everyone at the Tacy Foundation for providing me with the opportunity to give back to my community through what I love most, playing the guitar. For example, I have performed for patients and seniors at Shady Grove Hospital, National Institutes of Health, and seniors’ homes across our area. Additionally, I have had the privilege of being able to help start Guitar Pals, a program in which volunteers such as myself provide guitar lessons to underprivileged kids who cannot afford professional lessons. Such opportunities have instilled in me a sense of altruism that has been significant in deciding my career path. I will be studying on a pre-medical track at UMD with the hopes of getting into a top medical school in the future and becoming a doctor, so I may continue satisfying this sense of altruism for the rest of my life. Thank you.

Suhela Luthra

Mrs. Luthra is the mother of two Tacy Foundation volunteers, Veda and Shiv Luthra. Their family has been involved with the Foundation’s work for over ten years. Veda is a graduate of Thomas S. Wootton High School and currently a senior at the University of Delaware; Shiv is a recent graduate of Montgomery Blair High School and currently a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University.

Our family has been participating in Piano Pals for the past 2 years. It has been an amazing and a very fulfilling experience. My two children have had the opportunity to develop leadership skills in a warm and a safe environment. Additionally, it also sharpens their social skills along with helping them develop empathy for the younger and not so fortunate kids.  For the student/ younger kid, it is a great learning experience. They look up to their mentors and make them their role models. With these mentors, students can relate a lot more than they can to a teacher. They share their reading interests and borrow books. The arts and crafts program helps the children learn new skills. It is a great platform where both mentors and students stand to gain.   We wish the very best to Tacy Foundation and hope they continue to make a positive impact to the world of children and music.

Marie Riordan Kaplan

Marie Riordan Kaplan is the patient librarian at the National Institutes of Health, which is one of the locations that the Foundation sends CDs to.

Thank you so much for your recent donation to the NIH Patient Library of the Seeds of Healing music CDs. They beautifully capture the lovely performances of the talented young musicians who have graced the Clinical Center Atrium with healing music.

Candace Moore

Candance has been a Piano Pals mentor for six years and is a regular solo performer at Live Music events for seniors. The text below is from the insert of her solo CD, recorded in 2019.  

Music has always occupied a special place in my heart. It carried me through the joys of life, and it likewise consoled me in the mist of heartbreak. Since I first began playing the piano at 5 years old, I have never ceased to be blown away by the wonders of music: not only the skills required to master it, but also its tender ways of inspiring peace and happiness.

In each of these songs, I have sought to paint a picture that reflects my passion and love for music. But more importantly, my desire is to plant seeds of healing in you as you journey through the ups and downs of life. Be encouraged and enlightened through these selections, and afterwards, strive to plant your own seeds into the lives of others!

Thank you so much for listening! 

Zoë Bell

Zoë Bell is a long-term Tacy Foundation volunteer who has been serving since early elementary school, for what is now ten years. More information about her story with the Foundation can be found in her blog post in the News section of the website. The text below is from the insert of her solo CD, which was finalized in 2019 and is a conglomerate of pieces she has recorded for various projects since she was eight years old.

This CD is a compilation of many years of sticking with piano, through the thick and thin. I hope that by listening to my music, you will hear my enthusiasm for learning new pieces and hours of practice with the help of a wonderful and supportive mentor. Without Mrs. Charlotte Holliday, I would not be where I am today in terms of musical knowledge, sight-reading, persistence, and charitable service. She has given me so many opportunities to better myself as not only a musician, but a person as well. Please enjoy these pieces wherever you are and remember that if you're not happy with where you are right at this moment, your story is not over.

Evan Hu

Evan Hu is a senior at Montgomery Blair High School and a critically acclaimed competitive pianist. He was recently named a Davidson Fellow for music-related philanthropic projects. More information about his work and award can be found in the October newsletter. His statement below is from a personal email in February 2019 to Mrs. Charlotte Holliday, founder of the Tacy Foundation.

It has been an honor to share my music with you.  I hope you will find my music uplifting, inspiring, and joyful.  This music has helped me get through my hardest times. I hope it also will for you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Eric Lin

Eric Lin is a Sophomore at Harvard University. An award-winning pianist and soloist with the National Symphony, Eric donated portions of his own prize winnings to charity throughout his high school years in Northern Virginia. He donated time and winnings of awards to the Foundation when he first learned about it. In spring of his Senior year (2018) at Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology, the Tacy Foundation invited Eric to compile his favorite repertoire for the CD Harmony. We shipped them to Fisher Houses. The note below was written by Eric for the CD insert.

Dear Friend, 

Thank you so much for choosing to listen to this CD. As a high school senior living near Washington D.C., I have become increasingly aware of the many tragic and deeply scarring events from these past few years. Such tragedies have sparked widely publicized protests, most recently with the March of Our Lives in response to the Parkland shooting. In fact, I witnessed these demonstrations first-hand and spoke personally with Senator Tim Kaine on Capitol Hill. 

I have been sincerely moved by all these public and energetic demonstrations. However, alongside these outspoken protests, I also believe we should find time for peace and solemn reflection. This CD is my small personal contribution. As we heal together as a nation, I hope music can be something everyone can find solace in. After all, music transcends our differences – differences in race, age, gender, political view, and culture. I hope you enjoy. 

From the bottom of my heart to yours, 

Eric Lin and The Tacy Foundation

When the Parkland shooting occurred, we sent Eric’s CDs to families of the high school in Florida.  The message he wrote in late winter/early spring was most poignant for the families of Parkland, FL. In August of 2018, a parent wrote this message to the Foundation's email sharing a photo of her late daughter, which is included after Eric’s piece. Photos of her daughter appeared in the Summer 2018 Newsletter---she sent these in an effort to reach Eric and thank him.

"We received the beautiful CD.  Thank you for sending us that, as our home is no longer filled with music from Carmen's piano playing."

--April Schentrup, Carmen's mother

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