"She wanted to become a public relations person for the arts."
Irma Reuter, 37, of Los Angeles, California, recruited her musical colleagues to provide music classes for children and youth who otherwise would not get them through their schools. This story was submitted by one of Irma's longtime friends.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Irma: This story is about a woman who came into my life over 12 years ago. I met her one evening when she came to an East Los Angeles Jaycee meeting. That very night she became a member. There was not one event in which she did not participate. One activity that I recall was Parents Against Cancer, and not only was she serving hot dogs for a family event, but she also was the star at a Christmas program where she sang the children's holiday favorites. Later, she became the Monterey Park Jaycee President and also participated in blood drives and the Boys and Girls Club. Once again she sang at the installations and other benefits without ever charging.
No longer a president, she still has remained faithful to the International Jaycee community. During this time she taught at The Neighborhood Music School, a non-profit association in Boyle Heights, for $6.50 per hour. We always wondered how she could work for so little. Well, she also taught privately and sang for weddings, funerals, and other occasions. She still does.
Due to budget cuts in the public and parochial schools, she started a philanthropic operation under the name of Music Outreach, in which she and her partner went to the schools and offered quality music education that was very affordable for the schools’ budgets. She had other teachers involved so she could reach other schools that desperately needed music. Eventually, the schools could not afford to keep the teachers, so the operation disbanded.
What is the Irma and location of the organization?
Irma: Music Outreach: An Association of Professional Music Teachers Los Angeles, California.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Irma: She is just getting started from where Music Outreach left off. Children and communities benefit from the efforts of Ms. Reuter, as she offers quality and affordable education where it is needed. She has branched out to parks and recreation and community centers as well.
What inspired you to get involved?
Irma: Her inspiration is that she feels the children are the future, and she wants them to become well-rounded individuals. She wants them to conduct themselves properly, she says.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Irma: She got involved because she wanted to become a public relations person for the arts. When you meet her and see her in action, she vibrates as she shares her love of music so that you can actually feel what she says vibrate in you.
What is/was the hardest part?
Irma: She never finds anything hard to do. She just sets out and accomplishes what she sets out to do. She says that she has challenges, and anyone can handle challenges, for that is what life affords us.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Irma: I have changed and everyone that meets her or takes instruction just delights in her manner. Right now, she is teaching a hairstylist who has difficulty pronouncing his English, so she does not let anything discourage him. Also she is teaching an 81- year-old to play piano, and she mentioned one day that she and her pupil were moving together while playing at the piano, and we laughed. It was a good lesson, she said. She does not charge these people [for lessons].
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Irma: Don't think about it. Just do it!
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