Welcome, 2015

Happy 2015!  I am looking forward to this year.  Our 2014 year was such a good one, I can’t wait to see what we do in 2015!  Last year, we raised nearly $19,000 and were able to provide 1802 books and 119 instruments to children in a couple states.  Wow – what an accomplishment in less than 2 years in operation.  To be able to contribute to Fran’s Bands and Barb’s Books was completely the result of donations BCI received.  We are so thankful!

So now for 2015, we have big goals.  I’m hoping to top 7,000 books and 200 musical instruments.  Yes – this is a huge stretch, but in the words of Norman Vincent Peale, we’ve got to “Shoot for the moon. Even if we miss, we’ll land among the stars.”

And we’ll need your help to be successful with this endeavor.  Please continue to support BCI.  You will make a difference in children’s lives!

Letting music ‘move’ me

While working on business concerns, I have the CMA’s on in the background.  I love hearing music! Any kind of music – rock, pop, hip-hop, country, classical, Christian, jazz, alternative, and even, in my past, heavy metal.  Music can mimic an emotion and sometimes helps get beyond a difficult period, celebrate a happy time, uplift a depressed spirit, or calm jittered nerves.  I remember when pregnant with each of my sons, I would lay in the middle of the living room floor, put music on, and either sing or hum for a long time.  It was my way of taking in the moment and thinking about the wonderful experiences yet to come.  I know my sons benefited from these early music-listening sessions. They loved making music – and I knew that from an early age, their involvement in music would have a positive effect on their growing brains.  It is unfortunate that many, many children do not have the ability to experience music during their young lives while their brains are developing.  What a tragedy!  How simple to start with even a nursery song and clapping.  In a recent article I read, Ani Patel, as associate professor at Tufts University, discussed the important implications about the role of music in children’s lives.   “Cognitive abilities are affected by changes in the brain when music is played and this can have an impact on emotional development, emotional maturity, social skills, and stick-to-itiveness…all of which are hugely important in a child’s ultimate success.” (“Unpacking the science: How playing music changes the learning brain”; Mindshift; 2014/07).  This is one of the main reasons BCI focuses on providing musical instruments and accessories to elementary schools.  We are trying to make a difference….one school and one child at a time.

So happy and excited of what’s to come

It has been a long wait, but we have finally received our tax deductible designation by the IRS!  While we have accomplished more that I thought we could in our first year and a half, with this exemption status, there is just so much more we will be able to do!  I am so excited for all the possibilities – the number of children who will benefit from our supporters who believe, like we do, that every child, regardless of their socio-economic status, has the capacity to be successful in education and life.  Help us to meet our mission of early intervention of reading and math by considering a donation to our worthy cause.  You WILL make a difference!

Will Spring ever get here?

Oh these winter months.  The cold and wet weather makes for perfect reason to stay inside and read, play cards, or play board games.  I hope you have been able to do just that and enjoy your family and friends.  But, will Spring ever get here?!  I love snow, but I’m ready to see the flowers peek through the ground and trees start to turn green with buds appearing.  There’s something refreshing about moving from one season to another – and I’m all ready for the next one to start – to celebrate Spring!  As for celebrating, March is National Reading Month!  It’s a time to celebrate reading by, well, reading!  Read to a child, parent, brother or sister.  Or be a model for your children and have everyone sit down together to read their own books.  Just 15 minutes.  How about the newspaper or a magazine. Doesn’t matter what – just show them you enjoy reading and they will follow suit.  Even non-readers can participate. Leapfrog.com has a wonderful article with ideas.  Go to http://www.leapfrog.com/en-us/learning-path/articles/march-is-national-reading-month-even-if-you-dont-readyet.html

So let’s celebrate by reading just 15 minutes a day every day in March.  I challenge you.  By April 1st, you will have read for 465 minutes!

A whole new year

Today begins 2014. The start of a new year makes people come up with resolutions for the year.  I am hoping that many of you will add “Reading more” and “Reading to children more often” to your lists.  There are over 1.1 million homeless children in the US today.  Many don’t even own a book.  That’s where Balint Charities, Inc., comes in.  While our first year (just over 10 months now) has given nearly 1600 books and 24 musical instruments to children, clearly we have a long way to go. Whether it is by donating to us or another organization within your local area, please consider taking action in some form in 2014.

Thank you and may 2014 be your best year yet!

Calm before the storm

I love this time of year! School routines have settled down, leaves are showing their magnificent colors, and there is a crispness to the air.  It is the calm before the storm.  In just a few weeks, the holidays will be upon us.  While I enjoy celebrating them, sometimes it is a very hectic time.  So, I bask in this quiet time…and get more reading done.

I am currently reading two books – “Music with the Brain in Mind” and “Teaching with Poverty in Mind – What being poor does to kids’ brains and what schools can do about it”. Both are by Eric Jensen.  The first book discusses evidence, including brain research, that defends the need of musical arts in schools and how, as teachers and parents, we can apply the science to practice.  In the second book, Mr. Jensen examines how even in poor conditions children can become successful academically.  It also provides ways in which “schools can improve the academic achievement and life readiness of economically disadvantaged students.”

During this peaceful time, I encourage you to investigate how you, too, can improve the life a child in need.  Volunteer as a reader or music teacher at Head Start programs or as a coordinator of Reach Out and Read programs for a nearby pediatrician’s office.  The simplest gesture can make a difference!


“Fall”ing into schools

I LOVE this time of year – Fall!  Cool mornings, warm afternoons, bright and colorful trees. And this year has been particularly special as we have been visiting schools to see our donated musical instruments in action and delivering more books.  We got such a kick out of listening to the children learning their first song on the djembes.  The teacher was one of the best music teacher I’ve ever witnessed. The affect she will have through music will benefit these children for years to come.  Please consider making a donation to help us provide more instruments to schools in need.

We have also been able to increase our donations to the pediatrician offices through Reach Out and Read Virginia.  We are about to surpass 1000 books – not bad for less than a year in business.  And we have several book drives planned later this month including one with the Girl Scouts.   So, if you are inclined to help us with books, how about coordinating a book drive.  Send an email to info@balintcharities.org for more information.

Thank you for your support. Enjoy this wonderful month!!

The big delivery

Do you know the feeling you get when you are waiting for a package to come in the mail? The anticipation of seeing the box sitting on the front porch just waiting to be opened by you?  And the satisfaction upon opening the box and seeing your acquisition?  Well, I get to have that feeling almost every day for the next couple of weeks.  For over the next 3 weeks, Balint Charities will be receiving nearly 1000 books through a grant from First Books.  They arrive from a variety of publishers so not all at once. The anticipation of coming home late afternoon and first spying my front porch always adds a bit of glee to my day.  What will be delivered today? How many boxes? Which books are coming?  I think of the many, many children who will benefit from these books and cannot wait to see the excitement and happiness when I deliver them. This weekend we will be delivering around 300 books to a pediatrician’s office and next week to a refugee relief organization.  So, while I love this delightful feeling of seeing the delivery on my door step, the act of giving these books away is my biggest joy.

Have a wonderful September!

Summer is ending

As summer ends and fall begins, activities are increasing.  Today,  we started a new partnership with Georgetown University.  A big thank you goes to Brittany Laughlin for connecting BC with GU!  This rainy afternoon, Mike and Adam loaded several boxes of books into my car.  GU actually had many children’s books and they knew we would find children who could use them.  We look forward to working on other ways the students at GU could assist BC!

Recently, I was contacted by a Girl Scout troop who is interested in running a Book Drive for us and also a Spanish outreach program who would like to work with us.  It is so heartwarming that there are so many people who just want to participate in something that will have such a positive impact on the lives of children!

And, finally, just a few days ago, BC was informed that a grant of nearly 1000 books will be delivered to us at the end of September!

This will be an exciting Fall!!  Stay tuned….

Gearing up for school

It brings such joy to help someone in need! I’m sure you get that same happy feeling when you do something nice for someone else. So, when I had the opportunity to assist a music teacher in need of instruments for a high-poverty inner city school, I jumped at the chance. Over the summer, she had attended a class on World Drumming and thought how nice it would be to use skills she learned there in her classroom. Being a music teacher, she is lucky to be able to touch all the children in the school as they rotate through their music subject.  Her only issue was how to provide enough djembes for an entire class.  That’s where Balint Charities stepped in to help.  In a few weeks, the children will arrive to find  21 brand new, brightly-colored djembes waiting for them.  Let the music-making (and math skills) begin!