Friday, February 4, 2011

Da Capo - Encouragement and Hope on a Snowy February Night

Sitting cozy indoors with the wind whipping against the window,  I find myself contemplating our Christmas tree.

Yes, it's still up -- Pete likes it so much :) Each year I wait for his signal to dismantle it, though looking at it now its sweet glow of colour painting the ceiling, I know he's not the only one hanging on to Christmas with both hands. This entry started as a simple note to give encouragement to anyone trying to start up a grassroots type of charitable organization. But that darn tree pulled me into remembrance of Christmases past...

This was my first Christmas without my dear mother. She passed away last Oct 23rd after having lived with Pete and I for the last 10 years of her life. She was one of the choir's biggest fans -- attending all our concerts up until two years ago.  She had Alzheimer's, and it had progressed.

Back in 1976, when both my Mom and Dad were still with us, the Stairwell Carollers had no name and consisted of four kids from Ottawa U.  By 1977, we had eight people - two on each part -- Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass. Without ever talking about it, our mandate was set -- to bring Christmas cheer to the disadvantaged. We began by singing in the residence stairwells for Ottawa U. students stuck in town over the holidays and went on to sing on city buses and in shopping malls. If anyone gave us money, it would go directly into the nearest Salvation Army bucket.

We never thought we would be here so many years later, we never lost our focus and we always loved what we were doing. Our choir evolved and grew, in size and scope, without changing our mission of bringing the Christmas spirit to all who would hear us.
As time passed, new members with new ideas came and went and our passion for sharing our music fueled our charitable ventures.

A non-profit choir, The Stairwell Carollers has been together for over 34 years now, helping local charity to the tune of over $40,000 with concert ticket, CD and cookbook sales since 1998. Before that, we produced cassette tapes and even a vinyl recording in 1985 to help Ronald Macdonald House here at CHEO - the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. 

We now have a yearly scholarship set up for aspiring high school musicians who want to continue their studies in music.
In this, the deepest of snowy winters since we began in 1977, we bid good wishes to all with similar philanthropic dreams -- and I hope our story inspires.

We are open to any and all questions and have a lifetime of experience to share. Comments are welcome!  Future posts will outline how to apply for grants, how to apply for charitable status and give organizing tips for choir organizers, leaders, singers and directors.

Holly :)

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You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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