Crafting for Good - An Artifact Initiative
A good friend of mine - Jeromy Darling - heads up an initiative focused on serving the homeless youth population in the Twin Cities. This initiative is music based, but also focuses on serving the physical needs of these kids and the shelters where they live. For those who didn't know, Minneapolis has a huge homeless youth problem. There are thousands of kids under the age of 21 who are homeless and only a few hundred beds available for them. Jeromy seeks to bring together various initiatives that already serve this population, and to inspire new initiatives, through the powerful and universal language of music.
Artifact is answering that call. Mondays are my day off work, and yesterday Jeromy had asked me to come by a children's home in Minneapolis and change the guitar strings for a kid there. "It'd make his month if you could." Jeromy told me. Who could refuse such a simple request from a kid in a shelter? I couldn't. This is a kid that I had met at one of those concerts a few months earlier. He was fascinated by my hand-carved electric guitar that I played during the set and I let him jam on it for a while after we were done. So when Jeromy asked me to come by and change his strings I thought to myself, "I'm going to throw a bunch of my tools in a box and give him a proper setup too."
When the guitar was brought to me in the basement of the shelter it became quickly apparent that a simple setup wasn't enough. The frets were not level, there was no fall away, and the guitar had fret buzz even with very high action. There were deep gouges in several frets - not just your normal fret wear. This would require the most intensive leveling job that I had attempted to date. About an hour later, after I had leveled and crowned the frets the kid came down and watched as I finished the rest of the fret polish and setup work. He asked a ton of questions, very good and insightful questions. He also asked where my shop is and if I was hiring. When the guitar was finished I handed it to him and asked how it feels now, and he said "it feels amazing!" The combined look of disbelief and joy on his face said it all and made me wish that I could somehow do this for a living.
It completely made up for the previous day when I had an angry internet troll attack one of my advertisement postings and accuse me of using "turd polish" and called me a scam artist and a host of other profane names, to which I tried to gently explain where he was wrong and how my passion is to put custom shop quality into the hands of every day musicians at an affordable price.
My particular skill set is taking old, broken down instruments and rebuilding them in a way that makes them exceed the potential of the original design. A lot of these resource centers for homeless or at risk youth have guitars, or some of the kids have guitars, that are in very poor condition. So I've decided that once a month on my day off I'm going to go to these resource centers that have instruments on hand, starting with the ones where Jeromy has connections, and provide free skilled labor. Music is such a powerful device for expression and communication and release of emotion. It might seem like a small contribution, but I'm going to do what I can to make sure these kids that are hurting have instruments that are easy to play and learn.
So this is my call to action - what trade or skills do you possess that you could use to help this community? Even small actions, like this kid who just wanted someone to change his strings, can leave lasting impressions. I hope this was inspirational to you and please pass it on.