Diagnosed with cancer, my best friend was treated at The Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore in the late summer of 2007 and throughout the winter of 2008. To support her healing, I began a project with the Avon Foundation's gift bag initiative by inviting children and teens from my piano studio to play from their hearts for cancer patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The 500 Sounds of Hope & Healing CDs that we donated to the Avon Foundation in the spring of 2008 were a year's supply for their gift bags.
After this remarkable experience in 2007-8, there was such generous response of families and their children, the recording studio, and publishers. With humble means, my family and friends formed a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation. This foundation became the best way to respond to people’s interest in helping contribute to the above and future projects. The children became so empowered by the magnitude of their donation to the Avon Foundation at Hopkins that they all volunteered the next year to make CDs for Children's National Medical Center in Washington, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center in Tennessee, and Dupont Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware, as well as the local pediatrics units in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Once the commitments had been met to make and distribute 900 Sounds of Hope & Healing for Children CDs to patients, we were able to focus on a new project, Music Heals, a CD project designed to send children’s music to wounded soldiers and their families. Music Heals became a community effort involving children and their families, the local recording studio, two talented graphic artists, the printing company, and many generous publishers of music. The CD donation projects inspired a larger network of people who wanted to share music and/or who were connected to the military through personal or family service.
The Music Heals CDs project was dedicated to bringing music from children to the troops. We selected this project because of the deep gratitude and respect we have for the men and women who serve in the United States Military. Their courage, dedication, professionalism, and sacrifice are an inspiration. We wanted to do something to show them, in a small way, our gratitude for their service, and to tell them that they have the support of many, many people. We also wanted to send best wishes for their healing. We have sent over 2,000 of the Music Heals CDs to Fisher Houses in the USA, including at Ft. Hood, Lackland AFB TX, Andrews AFB MD, Minneapolis MN, Ft. Lewis WA, Palo Alto, CA, Tampa Bay FL, Cincinnati OH, Ft. Campbell KY, Bethesda Naval Medical Center, Travis AFB CA, Walter Reed Army Hospital, VA Hospital in Chinle, AZ (for Navajo veterans); and overseas to Landstuhl, Germany and to the USO in Kuwait, Korea, and through the Pat Tillman Memorial in Afghanistan. We have sent Music Heals and Happy Holidays CDs this winter to the American Red Cross at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and to Denver’s Mile High Red Cross Center.
Various children who recorded their music were waiting for their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and parents to return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the children came from families who immigrated to the United States from all over the world. They were so proud to be Americans! Others, whose families had been here for generations, had brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, and aunts who were serving in the military or in supporting the military.
In the spring of 2011, 105 selections were recorded for children’s hospitals: Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, MD Anderson in Houston, and The Children’s Inn at NIH (National Institutes of Health) in Bethesda, MD.
Some children composed music for this project, while others learned their favorite pieces from written music. They all recorded their pieces with great enthusiasm. They assembled the inserts and raised funds to cover the costs of the recording, mixing, copyrighting, and CD production.
A CD of holiday music was sent out in December 2011 to Fisher Houses in the United States and Landstuhl, Germany for distribution at the hospital for the holiday season.
The American Red Cross at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center requested 800 Music Heals for The Wounded Warriors to place in each stocking at the hospital. On December 14, 2011, they were delivered to Red Cross Assistant Station Manager, Kate Kelly. These CDs brought the music of three teenagers who composed their music and performed for the troops and for hospitals throughout the country.
In July 2011, The Reading Express, a pilot program for interactive storytelling, began at The Children’s Inn at National Institutes of Health. “How the Stars Fell into the Sky” was told by Claudia Scott from the Navajo Reservation. The Germantown Library hosted the same story for children in upper Montgomery County.
In July and August, senior high students asked The American Red Cross for the opportunity to play live music on the piano in the lobby of The America Building at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Piano music began in early September, 2011 on a weekly basis and continued with various pianists.
In October 2011, a new charitable project called Piano Pals was launched at Great Seneca Creek Elementary School in Germantown, Maryland. The purpose of Piano Pals was and is to give interested elementary school students who cannot afford piano lessons an opportunity to begin piano study with a middle school or high school mentor. Middle and high school students earn SSL credit for their service. This effort is intended solely as a means of giving back to the community.
In November 2011, another new project, Reading Express Book Drive, was launched. Montgomery College Child Day Care Centers collected books to ship to the Navajo children in Chinle, Arizona. The week of Thanksgiving, 12 boxes filled with a variety of children’s books were sent to Chinle Unified School District on the Navajo Reservation.
On November 31, 2011, the Tacy Foundation sponsored a live music concert at NIH’s Hall of Hope for patients and staff undergoing treatment. This became an ongoing project featuring young people playing live music for NIH.
On December 16, the Red Cross sponsored a holiday party in the America Building lobby. The teen pianists played music for two hours during this celebration. They distributed 200 Happy Holiday CDs to everyone present. This new Teen Piano Players for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces continues at Walter Reed.
On January 30, 2012, 500 CDs were sent to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, Chicago, Tulsa, and Phoenix. The Foundation has continued to record and send music to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, to Fisher Houses, to children’s hospitals, and to those new places wherever they are requested. It is an honor to send the music of these young people along with all of our best wishes to all those who hear their music.
Below is an early design for the Hopkins and Walter Reed CDs in 2011, 2012, and 2013. We recorded thousands of songs at Rolling Hills Recording Studio, copyrighted them, and then released them for holidays and seasons of the year. For over ten years, we have done this for the purpose of inspiring hope for the sick, the military who protect us, and the seniors who have built the busy, prosperous world we all experience.
Graphic Design by Marielou Holmes, formatted by Lawrence Holmes
In 2011, a teen from Potomac, MD went to Walter Reed weekly to play in the America Building. This was a wonderful gesture during the Iraq War. He wanted to honor the wounded warriors and the active-duty personnel who would be going to the Middle East. He too created a CD of favorites to donate to the Red Cross for distribution to patients at the hospital. See the high school student’s design below.
During the same time period, 2012-2013, a Clarksburg, MD high school student created his own CD for the Intrepid Project in Texas, inviting his high school band jazz members to record rock and pop music. This student received the Boy Scouts Eagle Scout Award from this project in 2013. His insert is below:
In December 2011, volunteer teens played at a holiday party sponsored by the American Red Cross at Walter Reed’s America Building. As they took turns playing the piano, violin, or flute, one teen started to play Silent Night. A 19-year-old Marine Sergeant came over in his wheelchair and watched. When the musician finished and looked up, the Sergeant asked her if he could learn that song. She saw his prosthetic forearm, two prosthetic legs, and without blinking, smiled and said “Sure!” Together they sat at the baby grand piano in the America building while visitors, military, teens, and Red Cross staff and volunteers enjoyed refreshments and celebrated. I will never forget the story of this young man who, struck by an IED, thrown across a field, lost a forearm and two legs, and sustained brain injury. He survived! And his first thought was to go and rescue his squad. This Sergeant’s father had flown up to be with his son during the long road to recovery. His dad said, “He is a Marine through and through. He would do it again, if it meant he would be serving his country and fellow service members.”
The story has continued through the years. In the first years, we played live music in only a few places, and recorded CDs for patients, children, troops. Now we play at 28 senior facilities as they open up. By 2021 during the COVID pandemic, more than 600 volunteers enrolled to help from home, making videos of their music and stories; writing cards to seniors, first responders, patients, and teachers; and keeping spirits up for the long road to recovery ahead. In September 2021, they will return (following safety recommendations) to the 28 sites for seniors in assisted and long-term care, six hospitals. They will continue to lift others to continue to be strong.
The Tacy Foundation was created to celebrate the power of hope and healing in the lives of individuals and communities. Thank you to all who have gone before us, to all who walk with us now, and to those yet to come!
Charlotte Holliday, Founder and Executive Director (August 30, 2021)