Helping students in Mexico create beautiful music
Here is the presentation made by Past President Barbara Lucks at our meeting on May 25, 2023:
You will remember, about this time last year, we were engaged in a project collecting gently used musical instruments to send to a Rotary Club in Delicias, Mexico. The project was a huge success and I’d like to share with you some of the comments and photos from the Delicias Club.
A bit of background – in January, 2022, my long-time personal friend, Dr. Melida Gutierrez, a Professor of Geochemistry at MSU, received a request from the Rotary Club in her home town of Delicias, Mexico. It said: “KINDLY REQUESTING ROTARY CLUB BROTHERS AND SISTERS FROM THE UNITED STATES (LEND) THEIR SUPPORT TO A PROJECT THAT WOULD BENEFIT DEARLY OUR YOUTH IN DELICIAS, MEXICO”. He goes on – “the Rotary Club of Delicias - No. 6913 - greets you warmly. Our group serves the community of Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico. Our county has a population of 140,000. Our city is young; it turned 88 years old this year. Our club has operated for 84 of those years; it belongs to District 4110. We have 36 members.”
A bit more about the Delicias Club in Melida’s words -- The Delicias Rotary Club members work closely with the new City Mayor and they are implementing arts in everyday life, as a way to offset all the negative (violent) happenings. For example, they put up great Christmas decorations in public parks and offered free music and games (low-cost types of things), and their volunteers dressed as elves and helped children with the swings and slides. Also, farmers were celebrating good crops as this was a rainy year. But these good happenings are in a large part the result of the tireless work from both the local people and other supporters (like the Rotary Club of Springfield-Southeast).
Melida contacted me and asked if I would help reach out to my Club. I said, “of course”! And, after getting everyone’s approval, we started to work on the Delicias Club’s request. We were able to accept donations of instruments OR donations of cash toward the purchase of refurbished instruments at a discounted price which Palen Music Center had so graciously collected and repaired just for our project. This was a small, quick, easy project with the potential for a big impact on the lives of the students of Delicias.
Again, in Melida’s words: “As you may know, Chihuahua (the northern state bordering with Texas and New Mexico ) holds the 3rd (sometimes the 2nd) place in violence in Mexico, and the situation is not getting any better. This violence and lack or opportunities is especially hard on young people. To focus on giving a meaningful activity to youth and keep them out of the streets, the Delicias Rotary Club wanted to help the local High-School Preparatoria 20-30 to make their dream of having a Marching Band come true. The High School had a music teacher that knew about marching bands, but they didn;t have musical instruments or money to purchase them. They wanted to see if I could help them find used instruments that are still in relatively good shape. They contacted me to ask in Springfield, Missouri.” she said.
So, for around $5,000, we were able cover the cost of the instruments at Palen and the cost of transportation. The Rotary Club of Springfield – North also participated. Mark Walker offered the services of Transland at a deeply discounted cost to get the instruments to New Mexico, where they were picked up by members of the Delicias club and then delivered on to the school.
We ended up accumulating 22 instruments, thanks to Palen Music Company and donations of club members and even a trumpet from my next-door neighbor! I delivered these to Transland on 8/4 and, thanks to Mark Walker and the folks at Transland, the instruments were picked up in New Mexico on 8/11 and were at the school by September 1.
I received this e-mail:
“This message is to inform you that the 22 instruments that you sent arrived safely in Delicias on September 1, 2022. As promised, the Rotary Club of Delicias will oversee them to make sure our High School students learn how to play them and participate in our first Marching Band. Thank you very much for your support to this activity. We will keep you updated on the progress of our Marching Band!” What a journey!!
So, here are a few photos of some of the students with their instruments. There also is a photo of Melida receiving an award and club flag and an award for us that she has brought to us. I have given Melida a flag to take back to the Delicias club.
Special thanks go to Past President Lisa Blumenstock for her support (and her saxophone), and to those of you who donated instruments or cash, and another special thanks goes to Mark Walker and Transland – we certainly couldn’t have done this without you! And, finally, although she couldn’t be here today, thank you, to Melida, my dear friend, for bringing us this opportunity!
This is the first high school marching band in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico – made possible by the efforts of our Club –
Thank you !