Burlington, News

Nonprofit group in dire straits

Music Matters down to two board members, in need of support

By Jason Arndt

Music Matters, Inc, a nonprofit organization, has been a part of the Burlington community for 14 years and contributed more than $100,000 to help local students excel in music.

However, the nonprofit group finds itself in dire straits and is in need of additional support from the community through new volunteers and continued contributions to continue bolstering music education throughout the community.

Music Matters President Sueann Edenhofer, one of only two board members left, said she and vice president Marcia Harlfinger have done all they could as support for the group has dwindled in recent years.

“Marcia and I are the only two remaining members and we are burnt out. It is a lot for two people to handle,” she said. “Marcia has been a part of the organization for 10 years and I have been with it for eight.”

Music Matters, launched several years ago in response to budget cuts at the Burlington Area School District, looks to offer support for music teachers within the community through contributions of workshops and even musical instruments to students in need.

At BASD, Music Matters has contributed instruments for general music classrooms, technical equipment and general music programs, while helping Catholic Central High School and other area private schools with their music programs.

Additionally, Music Matters has brought music programs to the Burlington Public Library, according to both board members.

Music Matters volunteers have been instrumental in community outreach, attending 35 school-based music concerts and contributing to Tall Tales Music Festival and the Burlington Famers Market, the board members added.

Edenhofer, meanwhile, said Music Matters also helps with Light Up the Night by selling lanterns to local businesses as part of a fundraiser.

Struggling for volunteers
In a joint statement, Edenhofer and Harlfinger said Music Matters needs a complete board to continue, including president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, as well as organizers and coordinators for subcommittees.

“Besides the four executive members, four more are needed, making it a total of eight. In the past, we have had eight or nine members,” the two wrote in a joint statement. “All members do the responsibilities of the volunteer jobs listed above.”

The lack of volunteers and participation is largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, as volunteerism has since dwindled.

Additionally, finding new volunteers has been difficult, considering some have family obligations.

“Families have other kids that are involved in sports or other activities, making it difficult for them to remember and schedule the time,” they wrote. “This is both for volunteers and asking people to be board members. It is finding the time and balancing everything.”

While volunteers play an important role in continuing Music Matters, the group has made a profoundly positive effect on local schools, including BASD.

Volunteers matter
Music Specialist Rebecca Ivkovich, who teaches at Dyer and Cooper elementary schools, said Music Matters has helped school music programs through advocacy and monetary grants.

For example, according to Ivkovich, Music Matters has annually funded the down payment for the district’s elementary students to participate in a program called Opera for the Young and provided for the purchase of a classroom set of ukuleles that have been used by 1,700 students.

“But I think it is even more important to note that the mere fact that Music Matters has existed for this long in Burlington sends a strong message that music education is highly valued by Burlington area residents,” Ivkovich said. “The reason Music Matters has been able to provide so much in grants is because people are choosing to put their time and money behind what they believe in – in this case, quality materials and experiences in music education for our area youth.”

BASD, like other districts, continues to grapple with limited funds, which has led to some difficult decisions such as potentially cutting programs.

Ivkovich said Music Matters has been able to offer additional support when needed.

“Knowing that Music Matters continues to supplement music education for our students brings me a sense of hope and a feeling of support from the community,” Ivkovich said.

Edenhofer and Harlfinger will continue with program until the end of the year; however, the future remains uncertain for the nonprofit group.

“We have some interest from parents at the concerts we have attended and if all of them would commit to being a part of it, then we could have a full board,” Edenhofer said. “But, the percentage of that happening would almost be unrealistic. So I continue to ask people to help keep this organization going.”

For more information, including how to volunteer, visit www.burlingtonwimusicmatters.org.

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