Volunteers Offer Music Lessons, Mentorship to Homeless Youth

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Tue, 10/11/2011

Teenagers often think up excuses to avoid piano practice, but at “Thursday Jams,” homeless youth show up in droves to learn from and jam with some of Seattle’s most talented musicians. It’s all part of a partnership between YouthCare and Arts Aftercare: every Thursday afternoon, Seattle musicians volunteer their time and musical talent to teach informal lessons to young people who come to regular drop-in hours at the James W. Ray Orion Center.

The fluid nature of the program is part of its popularity with youth and staff alike: “Sometimes impromptu lessons take place, sometimes jam sessions generate, sometimes philosophical discussions, sometimes song writing, and sometimes it’s just the filling of space with beautiful noise,” says YouthCare Community Outreach Counselor Mark Dailey.

Volunteers commit to a minimum 12-week term, and many stay on for several terms. Josh Byeman, a local musician, has found volunteering to be incredibly rewarding: “[I]t seems that each time I volunteer I am affirmed that regardless of walks of life, people are…people. Perhaps it is a bit cliché, but my experience with Arts Aftercare at the Orion Center has been an affirmation of the fact that individuals, no matter where or when or how they meet in the world, have a lot to learn from each other.”

Arts Aftercare is a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that brings "beauty and healing through the arts," and has partnered with YouthCare since October 2010.  To volunteer for Thursday Jams, please contact YouthCare’s Volunteer Coordinator Randi McKenna at volunteer@youthcare.org or (206) 267-3076.