Jack had built 36 cellos in his lifetime. He worried aloud that his family wouldn’t know what to do with them after he was gone, and was looking to get them into the possession of someone who would be able to use them. Enter Rawkstars.
Rawkstars was contacted by a local school administrator. She heard about our organization from my friend Liz, who I worked with 10+ years ago.
She conveyed the story of a family in need of support for their 11 year old son, Lucien. The family had suffered a series of personal losses and health issues, leading to financial strain. One parent forced to work multiple jobs when the other became physically disabled.
After a few emails and calls, Lisa connected with the boys’ father. After hearing his story, she encouraged him to apply to Rawkstars for help. In his application essay, he relayed that his son had come to him asking for cello lessons, having been introduced to it through the school band.
With tears in his eyes, he was forced to tell his son the family couldn’t afford the cost of such an expensive instrument, let alone lessons.
30 minutes after receiving their application, I got a text from my long-time friend Sandy, mysteriously asking me to call her.
I ducked into an empty conference room and dialed, eager to learn what prompted her message. Sam told me she visited a patient, an octogenarian too ill to visit the hospital and have blood drawn. While at his home, she noticed his living room was filled with musical instruments, including 5 cellos standing in front of a hearth. Being from a musical family herself, she curiously asked why he had them.
He told her he handmade the instruments, and in fact had built 36 cellos in his lifetime. He worried aloud that his family wouldn’t know what to do with them after he was gone and was looking to get them into the possession of someone who would be able to use them.
As a longtime Rawkstars supporter, Sam was well aware of our mission. She asked if she could pass along his contact information so we might connect. He graciously agreed.
After a phone call to introduce myself, we planned to meet. A few days later, I drove in the early morning rain to his home, 45 minutes away, with Lucien’s application in my pocket.
Over the next 90 minutes, we got to know each other. Jack regaled us with tales of his life as a master craftsman and supporter of non-profits. He told us of his service as a WW2 pilot. He explained how he built and upholstered the chair I was sitting in. He played cello for us, despite not having touched one in months, due to declining health.
He led us to his basement workshop where he painstakingly built each piece of the cellos by hand. Small blocks of mahogany became tuning pegs. Large swaths of blonde wood became instrument panels, after careful tuning by his trained ear. Headstocks carved and stained by hand. He moved slowly and spoke confidently, animated by the subject matter and our attentive ears.
We left with 1 of his treasured instruments, a 1/2 size cello with a case and bow ready for a home where it would be played instead of displayed. Perfect for an 11 year old boy.
Lucien is now the proud owner of that cello. He began studying the following month with Heather, funded by a scholarship made possible by the supporters who are the lifeblood of Rawktars’ programming.
-JJ, Rawkstars Founder & Executive Director