A broken drumhead became a symbol of a changing life-and a fundraiser-for Hoyleton Ministries, a CHHSM ministry in Hoyleton, Ill.
Sheltered Reality, a drum ensemble which encourages young people to use music to make a difference both in the world and in their own lives, began working with Hoyleton Ministries two years ago. The group offered drum lessons for kids at the youth- and family-services ministry. The response was so positive that a dozen Hoyleton children eventually joined the 300 fellow Sheltered Reality drummers who are scattered throughout 15 states.
For Steve Schlosser, Sheltered Reality founder and executive director, the group is an essential creative outlet for young people.
“A lot of kids have a talent that is not nurtured, so it’s awesome to help them develop musical talent and help them realize they can use it for another person,” Schlosser says. “For kids whom the world has forgotten about, it’s so important to be able to just express yourself. The arts unite people. The goal is to reach out, doing what you love to do and do it for someone else.”
And the result for both the kids and staff at Hoyleton has been nothing short of inspirational.
“Sheltered Reality is a shared experience,” says Al Bazile, recreation supervisor for Hoyleton. “It has helped youth-care workers and kids bond over something that they are learning together. Music levels the playing field.”
Lindsey Matthews, a recreational therapist at Hoyleton, says that she can see increased confidence and pride among kids across the board. Whitney Mense, another recreational therapist, calls the experience a “normalizing opportunity” for kids.
“Our kids feel they can make new friends now,” Mense says. “They branch out, and that carries over to other activities too.”
For Daniel, a youth at Hoyleton, playing the drums has meant all these things and more. Though he was skeptical to begin with, Daniel eventually came out of his shell and developed a real passion for his role in Sheltered Reality. So much so that he enthusiastically broke a drumhead during a practice.
“This wasn’t just any broken drumhead,” says Doni Driemeier-Showers, Hoyleton vice president. “It was the first drumhead broken while really working hard by one of our young people. A young person who, the year before, had a hard time finding the ‘on switch’.”
The broken drumhead was so important that Schlosser suggested the group auction it off at the CHHSM Annual Meeting in March, where Sheltered Reality also performed. The bidding war escalated quickly and was eventually won by Hoyleton President and CEO Chris Cox. Proceeds will be used to purchase a new drum for the Hoyleton community.
The moving story of Daniel’s success inspired another donor in the CHHSM audience to step up following the performance and provide two additional drum sets for Hoyleton. That makes a total of three new drums, to add to the two sets which are being shared by all 12 children.
Cox stresses the need for other CHHSM ministries to reach out and develop relationships with organizations similar to Sheltered Reality.
“It is very important in today’s world that all human-service agencies look toward engaging expressive therapies, for they have the greatest impact on those we serve, from children to seniors,” Cox says. “For all God’s children express feelings and emotions, and yearn to share themselves and give back. We need to be partnering with friends like Sheltered Reality and other treatment modalities because when we do, it is nothing less than exceptional. And you know you’ve hit upon it because it touches those with whom we work from the inside out. It simply lights them up. We can’t afford not to pursue this kind of partnership.”