San Diego Children's Choir
October 2, 2010
When I was a kid in the Choir - beginning as a charter member in 1990, I stuck with it through my high school graduation ten years later - SDCC was the best thing in my life. My friends there were irreplaceable; coming from all social groups and socio-economic backgrounds, our differences were checked at the door as we celebrated our common love for music and performing. The instruction was impeccable; founder/director Polly Campbell had complete control over her roost of choristers, and along with music, taught us posture, nutrition, professionalism, and inter-cultural respect. My memories were incredible; no other kid I knew had been to Europe four times before her eighteenth birthday, had sung in Royal Albert Hall in London and Il Duomo in Florence, had formed an adoptive relationship with a family in Normandy.
Unfortunately, Polly passed away shortly after I left the Choir, and the organization struggled to continue meeting the standards its founder had so effortlessly set. An unyielding search for "the next Polly" resulted in several short-term music directors over the next few years. This lack of stability and familiarity made choristers and their families question their own commitments to the organization.
By the time I returned to work in the Choir's office in 2006, however, it seemed the worst of the chaos was over. Things were running smoothly: we had a good group of employees and a great group of volunteers. The middle and high school kids were preparing to tour Europe once again. The Choir made one final attempt at finding a music director the following spring, then decided to embrace the system that had been working for the past few years: a sort of checks-and-balances system between the Board, the office and executive staff, and several talented and competent teacher/conductors for the different age-level choirs.
Working in the office was both hectic and rewarding. There was almost always more work than the small staff could handle, and as a result, the Executive Director often seemed to be working 24-hour days. It seemed like one more consistent and committed pair of hands would have evened out the workload perfectly, taking stress off the Exec Director and making the whole organization run more smoothly; however, this is a dream that remains outside of the Choir's current budget. Seeing the happy kids and the proud parents at various concerts and outreach events always made the workload feel worth it; it also always strengthened my wish that this organization would one day get the extra help it deserves, so that we could reach out to more young San Diegans, who on a whole are starved for music education in their schools.
I left my job at the Choir on good terms in mid-2007, and now return each week to sing with the budding Alumni and Young Adult Ensemble. I look forward to the day when I can enroll my own children in the Choir; I have total faith that, by then, we will have smoothed out the last of the kinks, so that SDCC can become the best thing in my kids' lives as well.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Member: 1990-2000; 2009-present.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Employ another person to help behind the scenes; force the Executive Director to take a much-needed and well-deserved vacation.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
Exposure to different kinds of music, different kinds of people, and different cultures. Lasting friendships I've made.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
Incredible - they are warm and welcoming, truly passionate and committed to this organization and its mission statement. I consider many of them like family.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
Expand! Give more scholarships to underprivileged kids; start more branches in different parts of San Diego; employ more office workers; advertise more widely; change more lives.
Ways to make it better...
Polly Campbell hadn't passed away.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
They always seem to need more committed people: staff, volunteers, choristers, donors.
One thing I'd also say is that...
Glee is a TV show. San Diego Children's Choir is the real thing. And so much more.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Former staff & I was in the choir as a kid, worked in the office as a young adult, and now sing with the alumni group.