In the fall of 2013, certified therapeutic harpist, Jayne Demakos asked a handful of friends if they would help her fund raise a small salary so as to be able to commit to playing therapeutic harp weekly in a medicaid supported, skilled nursing facility in Central New York. Without skipping a beat, every friend said “Yes”! A steering committee was formed and the next thing she know, CompassionHarp was born. In partnership with Social Ventures, Inc. CompassionHarp was set to receive the benefits of its not for profit status. A successful fundraiser and educational social was launched in the spring of 2014 and weekly visits to Cayuga Ridge Skilled Nursing Facility ensued in earnest. In addition, two group homes were served and also a handful of referred individuals needing care.
Exciting new developments have progressed over the last two years: while we continue visits to Cayuga Ridge Skilled Nursing and ongoing fundraising, we are reaching out to The Advocacy Center: Domestic Violence and Youth Sexual Abuse and Visiting Nurse Service both in Tompkins County.
In addition, CompassionHarp has formed a partnership with Ithaca College focusing on a newly formed student club, Healing Through Musical Companionship. Through a generous grant from the Park Foundation, we have established a program through CompassionHarp to bring students from this club into Cayuga Ridge to be with residents one on one as ‘musical companions’. This will initially be a pilot program running for the length of the winter/spring semester 2017. Our blog and newsletter will post updates throughout the semester.
In the near future we hope to offer therapeutic harp in prison hospice and veteran services.
Video by Mara Alper