Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teen Music Group Serves the Community and Their Future!

Over the last two weeks, along with the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Parks and Recreation Director, Public Works, and other City of San Diego departments, I have participated in the Mayor’s Town Hall Meetings held throughout the city. It is obvious from the attendance that people care deeply about the services the City provides and they are concerned about what the future holds. While none of us know for certain about the financial outcome and the potential cuts we may experience, the Library will do everything we can to offer quality services to the best of our ability given the level of financial resources available.

It is at times like these that I especially take heart in remembering all of the creative and positive things that are taking place in our libraries and the communities we serve. One of the best examples is happening in our newest branch library, Logan Heights, which opened just under a year ago.

Under the skillful guidance of the Youth Services Librarian, Adriana (Ady) Huertas, the Logan Heights Teen Council, composed of several youth who volunteer at the library, voted to start a music program to teach teens how to sing and play a variety of musical instruments. Friends of the Logan Heights Library member Judy Eby, who had already donated a grand piano to the new library, was so inspired by the teen’s enthusiasm that she donated musical instruments and obtained approval from the Friends Group to pay for a music instructor for three months.

The logo design that the Teen Music Group created.

A group of 22 dedicated teens met weekly beginning in June to practice. They named their group, “Project Unknown” and designed their own logo and T-shirts. Their first goal was to perform at the Summer Reading Program Grand Finale event on August 14. Their second performance was the next day at an annual community event, Fiesta Del Sol, and they also performed this week at the library’s Halloween Celebration. All events were a big hit!

" Project Unknown" performing at the Summer Reading Program
Grand Finale event on August 14.

With the success of “Project Unknown,” The Logan Heights Friends Group has agreed to pay for an additional singing instructor this Fall. A partnership has been formed with a non-profit organization in Point Loma called A.R.T.S (aka A Reason To Survive – web site: to provide the Teen Music Program with transportation and access to other musicians, artists, and singing instructors to help improve their performance skills. This partnership also offers art lessons for the group and other teens of the Logan Heights community at the library every Saturday.

Through the expert mentoring of Ady Huertas, Judy Eby, and the Friends of the Logan Heights Library, the teens have been encouraged to take ownership and responsibility by raising funds through book sales, bake sales, and rummage sales to help pay for their group’s T-Shirts and other important materials. They also participated in a letter writing campaign to the Friends of the Library and raised $3,000 so that the music program can continue.

From left to right Daniel Gomez, Juanita Arratia, Yadira Arratia,
Jeanette Arratia, Jeovanna, Eunice Rabadan, David Gomez (can't see his face),
Ruben Ochoa, Armando Herrera, Standing in back:
Adriana (Ady) Huertas (Librarian), Jocelyn Torres and Ashley Ayala.

This has been such a successful program for our teens that I asked them to speak about their music program at last month’s Library Commission meeting and the Branch Managers meeting. It is a great model for other libraries. We’ve already had a call from a librarian on the east coast who said she had never heard of this type of library program anywhere else in the U.S.

I’m so proud of our Logan Heights Librarian Ady Huertas for spearheading this group and thankful to our volunteer and donor extraordinaire, Judy Eby, and to our Friends of the Library Group for supporting it. Clearly, this is an extraordinary effort in every way. I am so impressed with the teens for their commitment to serving the community and their futures. It is so gratifying to know that the library continues to play such an important role in changing people’s lives!

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