How Reading Partners is Changing Lives One Hour, One Week at a Time
In Colorado, 4 out of 5 fourth graders from low-income families cannot read at grade level.
Did you read that last sentence? Is that real?
It is, and it means that 93% of students in under-resourced schools feel frustrated or defeated every time they open a book. It means that students who should be ready to start books like Harry Potter are instead still uncomfortable reading BOB Books and Dr. Seuss.
It means that ultimately, these kids are four times more likely to drop out of school when they get older.
As a father of three, I have a hard time grappling with these statistics. Think of all the families right here in Denver who see their children struggling in school and just don’t have the resources or time to help them.
Here’s where Reading Partners comes in. We are a non-profit organization that works to boost student literacy by empowering community members to provide individualized instruction that produces measurable results.
Make a Difference in Boulder: Musicians Raising Funds to Help Youth Battling Addictions
Take a moment with me and think back on your teen years. No doubt, doing so will bring back painful, embarrassing, humorous and touching memories. Was there someone, maybe a parent, who came along side you during the rough times and irresponsible decisions to keep you going down the right path? Maybe you had hobbies that kept you out of trouble and gave you a direction for the future – the time spent developing skills was time we didn’t have to give addictions and harmful habits a foothold in your life.
It’s no secret that the struggle with addiction is very much a human one. We’ve all struggled with addictions of one kind or another. If you think you haven’t, I have one word for you: Facebook. Some seem harmless, while others carry brutal consequences.
A group of musicians in Boulder is seeking a way to make a difference in the lives of young people who have battled addictions and who are seeking hope and a better (addiction-free) future. These talented folks perform Sunday worship at The Well church of Boulder and have long been praying for an opportunity to connect with musicians and engage the culture of the city of Boulder. Doors were closing left and right. Finally they shared their vision with a non-profit halfway house for young people in Boulder. AIM House swung their door wide open and a partnership began.
Seth Dady is heading up the group seeking to start The Listening Well studio. He is a professional musician and lead worship pastor at The Well church in Boulder and is no stranger to the power of music. Having begun training at the young age of 8, he pursued music continuously throughout his childhood and teen years (including spending lots of time at his Uncle Steve’s recording studio).
In college, Seth studied everything from guitar and vocals to audio engineering. After marrying his high school sweetheart, Seth spent 3 years as the front man for Christian hardcore band Astoria Arms. After graduating in 2006, the band dissolved and Seth and his wife moved to Colorado to pursue ministry. Since moving here, Seth has been running live sound for concerts all over the western slope. He has worked with incredible talent (including Grammy winners the David Crowder Band, Michael Martin Murphy and Dean Dillon, as well as Flyleaf, Suzy Bogguss, Asleep at the Wheel, and many many more).
When I heard that Seth was heading up a new venture called The Listening Well, I was intrigued. A trip to the project’s webpage told me that the project involves the building of a music studio that will be used to directly affect the lives and futures of teens and young adults who have battled addictions in the past, but who are now working hard to prepare for lives and careers in the real world. All this will be accomplished in partnership with AIM House of Boulder and a new shop called Factory Made (a place the AIM House young adults artistic outlets and resources to a fresh start in life through internships and workshops).
These details intrigued me, so I got in touch with Seth and grilled him on the details.
When I asked Seth, “Why music? Why is that the way you’re looking to shape futures of kids battling the aftermath of addiction?” he summed up the reason behind The Listening Well, “I think its a great outlet for anyone. I love playing music to relax, or when my mind is full of thoughts or ideas. It’s good medicine. Playing music can be a great source of camaraderie and community with other musicians as well as a great place to put your energy and life’s frustrations, failures, joys, victories, etc. into song. King David in the Bible often wrote songs and poetry to express life’s joys and sorrows. It’s an incredible artistic outlet.”
So, how exactly will The Listening Well find and engage with recovering youth? “Many of the individuals [at AIM House and Factory Made] play music and come from musical backgrounds, so they wanted to give them an opportunity to channel that into something they could possibly pursue an education or internship in once they were done with the program. When the studio space is finished, it will not only serve as a place to rehearse, write, and record for the community of The Well, but also for therapy sessions with AIM House that end with jam sessions and musical workshops with Factory Made. We will be partners in this together, shaping and engaging our culture.”
How will The Listening Well affect the future opportunities of the kids who complete the program? The hope is that they can gain experience to pursue an education in music or an internship at a studio. So much of today’s job opportunities and career paths are oriented around and asking for experience. The art industry isn’t much different. Gaining experience working in and being around a studio environment can prove to be extremely important for future endeavors for these individuals. Our goal is to come along side them and serve them with the gift of music
Lastly, I posed the obvious question: What will the money be used for? “Recording studios and equipment are not cheap, so we are starting small and needing to purchase some basics to get this thing up to speed as a functioning studio. Since most of the heavy lifting has already been done with the building and initial purchases for equipment, the money raised will be spent on purchasing the remaining necessary processors, microphones, cables, and mic stands to finish making this a working studio.”
I get it – we are all pinching pennies these days. The economy is bad and we’re all having a rough go as a result. Money is tight. Bills need to be paid. The painful truth is, we are less likely to crack open our piggy banks for charitable causes. Though most of us won’t be able to give $100, $1000 or more, we can give up our weekend treat stop at Starbucks for The Listening Well. Will you join me in helping to make this worthy cause a reality? I appeal to you as a mom to give a few dollars for these kids who may or may not have parents who care.
Every donation of $10 or more gets a special “Thank You” gift. Cool, huh?
Check out The Listening Well campaign here, or take a moment to watch Seth talk more about the mission of The Listening Well below: