I don't like to write about the miracles brought about by the Silberg Fund donations too often because I don't want you to feel that it is a call for more money. Believe it or not, we still have money left in the fund from our wedding gifts (now SEVEN YEARS ago!!) and also from those of you who have so graciously donated since that time.
BUT sometimes I just can't contain myself and need to share. A couple of weeks ago, a young teen came into the hospital with suicidal ideations after being bullied. His dad has been in jail for assaulting his mom and his mom has been keeping the family going by cleaning houses.
This boy was so sad but did volunteer to take a keyboard lesson. He caught on so quickly and seemed so much to want to continue learning that I took the chance and asked if he might like to take a keyboard home with him. His response? "Oh, no I couldn't do that because then the other kids wouldn't have one to play on in the dayroom."
I assured him that we would get another one for the kids and he accepted the gift. I also told him that I would give him free lessons as long as he practiced.
Here's what he wrote. Now mind you - this is someone who had wanted to end his life just 10 days ago:
Dear Mrs. Music and Husband,
Thank you Mrs. Music I really appreciate you letting me have the keyboard. I've wanted a keyboard since I was in 4th grade so to finally have one makes me really happy and I truly do appreciate it, I don't think I can thank you enough. (I am excerpting here also from an essay he wrote in his class today)
I love music and I always will. Also, I love when people make music the way they want to because it makes it more meaningful. If you want to make music you have to be passionate about it and stay true to yourself.
Music comes from within you so you can't be told what to do when it comes to your music.
Music is everything to me.
Mrs. Music's Parting Gifts To Worthy Kids
When Bob and Barbara Silberg got married in 2004, they asked their wedding guests to honor their union by contributing to a special fund established in their name. The money collected in The Silberg Fund would help them to spread the joy of music to children whose lives have been shattered by abuse, mental illness, or just bad luck.
Donations to The Silberg Fund allow Barbara and Bob Silberg to give piano keyboards and other surprises to worthy kids when they leave UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Hospital to return to their homes. Gifts are also presented to schools, residential group homes and other worthwhile agencies, such as Headstart, which do not customarily receive such items from other charitable funds.
Gift 1: Spiderman Theme To The Rescue
Mrs. Silberg worked with a 15-year-old boy in the eating disorder unit of the hospital. He was very lonely, antisocial, and spoke in a monotone. The boy had been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism. People diagnosed with this syndrome can be extremely bright, but they often fixate on a particular subject. This boy was obsessed with Spiderman. He asked for a piano lesson. When Mrs. Silberg taught him the theme from the film Spiderman, he was hooked. When The Silberg Fund awarded this downcast boy its first keyboard, he went airborne, hooting and giving everyone high fives.
Gift 2: Gentle Giant Loves Mozart
The second gift from The Silberg Fund went to a large adolescent male patient with tattoos, a shaved head and baggy pants. He was prone to violent outbursts. He looked like a Sumo wrestler, but he liked Mozart. The boy enjoyed the film Amadeus. Mrs. Silberg explained to this patient that despite his problems, Mozart was able to compose cheerful music. She talked with the youth about the criticism directed at Mozart and his sometimes inappropriate behavior. The boy could relate. As her parting gift, Mrs. Silberg surprised this youth with three Mozart CDs and a book about the composer's life.
Gift 3: Would It Be Brand New… In A Box That Has Never Been Opened?
The Silberg Fund's third gift went to a 12-year-old male who suffered from depression so severe that he almost succeeded in killing himself. Despite his young age, the boy walked with a street-smart swagger and flashed gang hand gestures. He was extremely flippant and wanted nothing to do with the piano. He began ranting about hating piano, then about how awful he played. Yet he had a facility for the piano. When Mrs. Silberg offered him a keyboard, he responded, “I might like one. But would it be brand new--in a box that has never been opened?” When the Silbergs presented him with a keyboard, he got so excited that he held a little concert on the piano in the hospital dining room. When they left, the boy hugged them and yelled for all to hear, “I don't believe this.”
Please note that The Silberg Fund is NOT registered with the IRS as a 501-c (3) non-profit corporation, because we want to avoid the strict record-keeping and reporting requirements in order to make sure there are no violations of patient confidentiality for the kids who receive the musical gifts. Contributions are welcome and well-used, but they are NOT tax-deductible.