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Life Arts    H2'ed 8/22/10

How A High School Jazz Band Brought Prom Dresses, Musical Instruments and Hope to NOLA

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We decided that the dresses would go to a foundation called Becca's closet. Their mission is to deliver formal attire to those who would not be able to attend their prom or homecoming otherwise. The instruments went to Tipitina's Foundation. Tipitina's is a jazz club in NOLA that sponsors a program to deliver musical instruments to schools and students that either cannot afford them or that were damaged during Katrina.

To pull everything together during our trip on spring break, one of the parents drove a U-haul down to NOLA and later, met up the band. We played at the Tipitina's jazz club in downtown New Orleans, inviting high school students in the area. This is where we distributed some of the dresses and tuxes. (If you would like to know more details about the day of the prom project and the day at Tipitina's (which was my favorite part of the entire trip, I have attached my college essay). We played three different sets at Tip's: one for the high-schoolers during the day, and two at night where we headlined!

Exciting! Carrie gave me permission to include an excerpt from her college essay:

"I like to think of this day as my baby, with nine months preparation and a beautiful (and unexpectedly successful) product. Natalie, the only other girl in the band, and I had volunteered to head this project with help from my jazz band and people in my home town and surrounding communities. We collected over 1000 prom dresses and tuxedos for teens affected by Hurricane Katrina. The effort of getting the word out, collecting the dresses, and storing them for the entire school year was completely worthwhile.

Two years after the storm, I watched these girls have the time of their lives. It was unlike anything I saw in New Orleans. During that trip, I saw abandoned houses, devastated people, and neighborhoods in ruin, but I never saw anything as optimistic as girls my age, from a completely different background, preparing for that most special of high school gatherings: PROM. I smile to myself whenever I revisit the emailed photos of our New Orleans counterparts and their dates wearing the formal wear we had collected. Hopefully, these clothes provided a "night to remember" for them as this event provided a day to remember for me."

What a great project! Thank you for telling us about it. I understand that you just finished up a great summer program. What were you doing?

I was studying voice with the group the New York Voices. They are a four-person vocal jazz group and they came to Bowling Green State University to spend a week with students of all ages. They worked with us in masterclasses, private lessons, and performed for us nightly. It was an amazing experience.

Sounds like it. You're about to start the next phase of your life, Carrie. What are your plans?

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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