Opening the Floodgates of Service

by Brendan Welch, Eta Phi, KKΨ |

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0099FF;”]N[/dropcap]atural disasters have the potential to bring about incredible destruction to the entire fabric of a community. Entire cities can be brought to their knees within days, and those that survive the chaos of mother nature are often left with a hometown that is a mere shadow of its former self.

In late August, the entire Binghamton area of Central New York experienced the devastation of massive floods due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. In addition to the high levels of damages to property and infrastructure, the arts took a huge beating in the area as well. Owego Elementary School in Owego, New York, was completely flooded. There was severe damage to the majority of the building, and the rising waters wreaked havoc on everything that was stored in the building. The losses within the music department (sheet music, scores, musical instruments and instrument care/repair supplies) were so great that the district had to shut down its music department and musical programs for 3rd and 4th graders through the end of the year.

As brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi we are all familiar with the amount of money that must be invested to get any music program running. Due to the additional damage to the entire community and other more “fundamental” school departments it was all too possible that the allocation of funds in the aftermath would not allow Owego to get music back to its elementary school for a lot longer than just this present school year. This is incredibly unfortunate, especially since many current and former members of both our chapter and the Syracuse University band program played their first notes in that very elementary school.

Fortunately, the brothers of Eta Phi at Syracuse were able to rally to help Owego’s elementary music program get back on its feet. Throughout the month of October, we ran an extensive instrument drive throughout the campus asking anyone to donate any old instruments, music or supplies they had lying around their houses to us so that we could give them to Owego Elementary School and keep the music going. It is in the elementary school programs that music begins to enter the lives of young people everywhere, and without these school music programs many of us would not have been introduced to music or bands and subsequently would not have gone on to do college bands or become brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi today.

Through the efforts of our chapter, we have been able to donate enough to Owego to at least give them a solid foundation to begin their music program’s rebuilding process. The instrument drive was an emotional project for us, and left us with a great appreciation for the privileges we experience as musicians at a major university. As brothers decided that everyone has an obligation to make sure our public schools’ music programs stay alive and kicking, and that is exactly what Eta Phi set out to accomplish.

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