Looking for more ways to make a difference in your community?  January is National Mentoring Month and our Senior Evaluation Associate, Jessica Tufte, may have just the opportunity for you.

Buffalo String Works is an organization that provides free music education to refugee and immigrant children on Buffalo’s West Side after school.  [There are direct recruitment lines through the Buffalo Schools (both public and charter) for students.]

Right now, Buffalo String Works is recruiting volunteers for the spring semester.  Even if you don’t play an instrument, you can still make a difference by helping us run lessons and rehearsals.  We also need one-time help at our concert and other events.  Please get in touch with me at jessie@buffalostringworks.org if you’re interested! Right now, we are especially looking for someone to help during both orchestra rehearsals on Fridays from 3:45 PM to 5:45 PM doing things like encouraging students to their seats, getting extra chairs and stands when needed, taking students to the bathroom, photocopying music for when students forget it, etc..

Right now, the conductor has had to worry about a lot of these things while trying to conduct, and we’d like him to be able to focus on the music rather than the operations!”

Feedback from volunteers this fall included:

[I] have loved the collaborative feeling of the place [Buffalo String Works] and the way that musical tasks were supplemented by silliness.

I think the way the children are taught [works well], and I think the devotion shown to the students is amazing!

Question: What do you think Buffalo String Works is doing well and should continue doing?

Volunteer Response: Everything.

“Buffalo String Works’ mission is to foster inclusive communities through the transformative power of music.  Seeing the connections made not only between students, but between students, parents, volunteers, teaching artists, and even concert-goers is an incredible experience.  From a personal perspective, teaching has enabled me to better empathize with others.  I have to try to see what I’m teaching from a student’s perspective in order to explain or show it better.

This relates to the work of CCNY because I am constantly engaged in a continuous quality improvement loop with my teaching. If something worked well, I keep doing it.  If it didn’t go over so great, I strategize and try something else based on what I learned.  Music is something that I’ve done most of my life and, at times, it has been one consistent thing I can pick up and do when things get hard.  To be a part in giving others this lifeline, especially a group that has and continues to face trauma in their lives, is an incredible honor and opportunity.”

In addition to her CCNY projects dealing with child welfare and racial equity, Jessica has also been working for Buffalo String Works part-time for three years.  This year, however, due to her enrollment in the Global Leaders Program that is taking her to Chile this month (Jan 2020) to participate in real-world efforts using music/art for social change, she is unable to maintain a teaching schedule with Buffalo String Works and acts as their Volunteer Coordinator instead.  Jessica is excited to get back to teaching again next year though!