It’s easy to take having a place to call home for granted.
“I never envisioned college graduation from the University of Houston with honors, marriage, children, and living in a homeless shelter,” wrote Nakia Sims, the mother of two beginning Suzuki Violin students, Azania and Hadas’sah.
When the Sims family lost their home in a fire this past summer, they lost everything. Nevertheless, Nakia was determined “to keep as much of a routine, academic rigor, music appreciation, and family fun in my daughters’ lives.”
Azania and Hadas’sah were both enrolled in the Suzuki program at the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School, and they quickly took to the violin. “Azania is extremely shy unless she’s dancing or playing the violin. When Azania plays violin, dances or flips into splits she is happy….Hadas’sah loved teaching me to play twinkle twinkle,” says Nakia.
But even before the fire, a limited supply of school violins and family resources meant that Azania and Hadas’sah didn’t have violins they could take home to practice.
Then Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musician Anthony Parce met this family while performing at a Salvation Army event. When he shared their story with other Houston Symphony staff, we were determined to help. Through our partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, we invited the Sims family to attend our Family Concerts, and even gave them a backstage tour. “It was like magic watching my daughters get excited about attending violin class after the Houston Symphony’s dynamic team gave them a tour,” Nakia said.
At our 12 Days of Christmas Family Concert on December 3, we decided to give them a special surprise with the help of our friends at Music Doing Good.
Music Doing Good is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization committed to “Creating a world where we all live in concert.” Through their outreach programs—In Schools, With Instruments and With Scholarships—Music Doing Good brings music to children in Houston who would otherwise not have access.
Houston Symphony Education and Community Programming managers Emily Nelson and Joshua Dada realized that the Sims sisters would be perfect candidates to receive instruments from the Music Doing Good with Instruments program. At our December 3 concert, Music Doing Good was able to present Azania and Hadas’sah with new violins of their own so that they can continue to pursue their love of music.
This is just one example of how the Houston Symphony is partnering with other non-profits to maximize our impact in the Greater Houston community. You can help make more stories like this possible by supporting our Community and Education programming here. Stay tuned for more news, and happy holidays!