"Don't help people out of pity....It's our moral duty to help others be the best they can be."
ChaDawn Parker, a 21-year-old percussionist and music major, formed a drumline with eight inner-city children from his father's small church in Chicago's West Side. Four years later, the drumline has more than tripled in size and has been invited to play at events throughout the city and the Great Lakes region.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
ChaDawn: I am a drumline instructor and director for inner-city children and youth.
What is the name and location of the organization?
ChaDawn: Emmanuel Temple Community Drumline, 562 N. Leclaire, Chicago, IL.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
ChaDawn: I am an accomplished percussionist majoring in music at Wilberforce University. I took eight elementary school students from the streets of Chicago's West Side – most of whom had no experience with a nuclear family dynamic, but [they] did have a lot of experience with witnessing drug dealings every day and shootings every month – and developed these children, who had no experience in any music, let alone drums, into expert drummers. Over a four-year period, our drumline has more than tripled in size. We've received invitations to play from Wisconsin to Michigan and have had as many as 65 male and female percussionists invited to perform in hotels, churches, and parks. The costs of equipment, transportation, chaperones, food, hotels, car repairs, insurance, etc., have largely been absorbed by my parents and a few friends.
What inspired you to get involved?
ChaDawn: I wanted to give kids an opportunity to go to college through music scholarships.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
ChaDawn: My father, who is a pastor of a very small West Side Chicago congregation, asked me to develop a drumline ministry for the youth of his church, whom he coaxed to attend, even though their parents do not.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
ChaDawn: Seeing the esteem, skill, loyalty, commitment and love of the children build up over the course of four years.
What is/was the hardest part?
ChaDawn: Getting volunteers and transportation. Handling kids with varied behavioral diagnoses. Not being able to take them all with me on college tours.
What was the biggest surprise?
ChaDawn: Getting a donation of several pieces of percussion and other musical equipment.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
ChaDawn: I learned that kids are people, too, little people with the same basic feelings, hopes and desires of anyone else, and that they will respect you even more when you expect strict discipline from them.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
ChaDawn: Don't help people out of pity but out of an awareness that God puts all people in the place of being both the giver and the "givee". It's our moral duty to help others be the best they can be, by letting them know what they can be and helping them to become that. We cannot achieve this by pretending that those who were born with less therefore deserve less. Give without expecting anything in return, but be appreciative if you get it.
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