St. Francis Music Center awarded $91,450 grant for violence prevention initiative

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, has been awarded a $91,450 grant to support URock Against Violence, a new mentorship program at St. Francis Music Center that pairs local youth with caring adults and provides activities focusing on music and the arts, including music lessons.

“We welcome everyone,” said Robyn Gray, director of St. Francis Music Center. “We are looking for a committed group of young people who want to make a difference with anti-bullying or other unproductive behavior. Perhaps it’s positive peer pressure. Perhaps it’s using music to create a community where people support one another and enrich their own lives as they enrich others.”

The grant is provided by the Mission and Ministry Fund of Catholic Health Initiatives, the national health care system that includes a national Catholic health care system in which the Franciscan Sisters participate.

Since it was established in 1996 with guidance from the health system’s founding congregations, the Mission and Ministry Fund has awarded 409 grants totaling more than $50 million to programs across the globe. The fund was established through contributions from Catholic Health Initiatives’ facilities across the nation.

URock Against Violence will serve youths throughout Morrison County and also contribute to Catholic Health Initiatives’ systemwide initiative to prevent negative behavior in every community where the health care system serves. “We’re grateful to CHI for supporting our efforts to serve the young people of Morrison County and are excited to turn our popular URock summer camp into a year-round program,” Gray said.

The summer camp, now in its eighth year, is a chance for youths, ages 10 and older, to fulfill the dream of being in a band. She said, “Participants learn so much more than playing music. They learn to listen to one another, play together, create harmony, build friendships, interact socially, think critically, communicate, gain self-confidence and learn the power of teamwork. They belong.” The program often draws students who do not normally participate in extracurricular activities or band and choir. The highlight of the two weeks is a chance to perform in front of a live audience – over 1,000 last year – at the Green Fair Folk Festival.

For families that cannot afford lessons, funds are available. “We strive to let music be a vehicle for making positive differences in people’s lives – in and out of the classroom.

“Life is full of choices, as adults well know. We want to teach the younger generation that one positive choice is to turn to music when they feel depressed or lonely. Music, song-writing, performing – it can change lives,” Gray said.

Kevin Lofton, chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives, said, “As providers of health and health care, we see the human cost of violence every day as victims come to us for emergency services. Violence prevention is a systemwide, long-term commitment for us. With the help of grants from the Mission and Ministry Fund, our local organizations are doing excellent work. They are moving ‘upstream’ to find the places and situations in which violence can be prevented.”

St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts established in 1979. Its mission is to provide high-quality arts education to the rural population of central Minnesota. The Music Center is committed to serving all who wish to learn and strives to create an environment where everyone is welcome and feels valued. Gray said, “We have witnessed the transformation that studying music and participating in the arts can make in the life of a child or teen, especially one that is struggling to make good, healthy decisions.”

Catholic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit, faith-based health system formed in 1996 through the consolidation of four Catholic health systems, expresses its mission each day by creating and nurturing healthy communities in the hundreds of sites across the nation where it provides care. One of the nation’s largest health systems, Englewood, Colo.-based CHI operates in 18 states and comprises 93 hospitals, including four academic medical centers and teaching hospitals: 24 critical access facilities; community health services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home-health agencies; and other facilities that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care. In fiscal year 2013, CHI provided $762 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research.

For more information on the program, contact Gray at (320) 632-0655 or rgray@fslf.org.

Some of the 31 students who participated in this year’s URock Camp at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, pose for a photo during the Green Fair Folk Festival held Aug. 6, front row (from left): Wyatt Munson, Rhiannon McConnell, Quinne Ingemansen, Audrey Thomas;  Robyn Gray, St. Francis Music Center Director; Emily Witucki, Lucas Burr and Joey Blair. Back row: Dane Ingemansen, Daniel LaBorde, Zachary Sobania, Cary Armagost and Logan Gerads.

Some of the 31 students who participated in this year’s URock Camp at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, pose for a photo during the Green Fair Folk Festival held Aug. 6, front row (from left): Wyatt Munson, Rhiannon McConnell, Quinne Ingemansen, Audrey Thomas; Robyn Gray, St. Francis Music Center Director; Emily Witucki, Lucas Burr and Joey Blair. Back row: Dane Ingemansen, Daniel LaBorde, Zachary Sobania, Cary Armagost and Logan Gerads.

 

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