Tag Archives: Martha Deegan

Bassick Band Needs Music Men (And Women)

In Westport, our schools’ stellar music program is a given.

Just a few miles away in Bridgeport, it’s a gift.

Bassick High School struggles with the basics. Recently, administrators found enough money to hire a band leader. Jon Garcia is eager to teach students, who are just as eager to learn.

But they can’t play without instruments. The band closet was almost empty.

Bassick High School band director Jon Garcia.

When Westonite Martha Deegan heard about the situation, she called a meeting with her Sky’s the Limit Foundation board of directors. They voted to take on the project.

They ask area residents with instruments languishing in closets, attics and basements — in other words, plenty of Westporters — to donate them to the Bassick marching band.

The foundation will clean them, and replace cork, pads and valves — whatever is needed to get the instruments in working order.

It would be great, Martha says, to get donations to buy new ones. But that’s expensive: a new tuba costs up to $7,000. So they’re concentrating on used, semi-forgotten but desperately needed instruments.

She has a personal desire to provide saxophones: Her father played sax with Stan Kenton and the Paul Whiteman Orchestrsa, back in the day at Cedar Point, Ohio.

Martha will pick up any instruments — anywhere in Connecticut. She’ll also reimburse shipping costs from out of state.

She’s off to a great start. A lawyer friend called, and offered an accordion, violin, sax, conga drum and cymbals from foreclosed houses that are being cleaned out.

Donations have already begun: trombones, trumpets, woodwinds, keyboards, euphoniums, electric guitars, and a clarinet, banjo and grand piano (!) from Westporters, and a flute from a Weston family.

Local residents involved include Dr. Jennifer Baum Gruen, opera singer Lucia Palmieri, “What Up Westport” founder Marcy Sansolo, Sue Connors, Shirley Hwang, Sue Daly and Kristana Esslinger.

Bassick High School band members.

Norwalk’s AAA Band Rentals shop — owned by Weston resident Mike Spremulli — has offered to recondition (free!) all donations.

Members of the “Bassick Big Band” will play at Barnes & Noble on Saturday, November 9 (3 to 5 p.m.). They’ll accept contributions (of money and/or instruments). The store will donate a portion of its profits from sheet music and music books to the school’s program.

Still needed:

  • 4 flutes
  • 1 obe
  • 1 clarinet
  • 4 alto saxophones
  • 3 tenor saxophones
  • 1 baritone saxophone
  • 5 trumpets
  • 2 French horns
  • 5 trombones
  • 2 baritone euphoniums
  • 1 tuba
  • 1 concert bass drum
  • 1 concert snare drum
  • 1 pair of crash cymbals
  • 1 timables
  • 1 pair of congas
  • 1 pair of bongos
  • 2 electric bass guitars
  • 1 electric guitar

“The Good Book teaches us to ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the lands,'” Martha says. “This is my holiday wish and mitzvah for the Bassick High School marching band.”

(To donate, email marthadeegan@rocketmail.com)

 

Martha Deegan: To Tanzania With Love

What do you do if you’ve been a Fairfield County lawyer for 30 years, but your son teaches in Tanzania and says he needs help building a school?

If you’re Martha Deegan you close your practice, and head to Africa.

Once there, you meet a young engineer from Indiana. You join forces, and build a home for orphans.

You become a missionary, sponsored by Westport’s United Methodist Church.

You work with a children’s home called Kwetu Faraja — “our comforting home.” You welcome Christians, Jews, Muslims, and boys with animist beliefs. You serve over 1,000 street children with medicine, food, clothing and emergency advocacy.

Martha Deegan, with some of the boys she's helped. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

Martha Deegan, with some of the boys she’s helped. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

You raise money for a solar project in the village, Kahunda. You are proud that there’s now electricity, and potable water. You develop a 35-acre farm for them, on the shores of Lake Victoria.

You live in Weston, but every year you go back to the village for a few months. You form relationships with people there.

You are appalled that they live in mud huts with straw roofs, without running water. You are impressed by their openness, generosity and loving spirit.

You know you can’t do everything. But you help a few kids — some as young as 4, sleeping in garbage bags on cardboard on the mean streets of Mwanza — by offering them a chance for an education at your school. You know that even though education is “free” in Tanzania, many youngsters cannot afford their required uniform, books or the interest they must pay on their desk.

Boys at , with a goat. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

Boys at Kwetu Faraja , with a goat. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

You turn to your next project: raising $22,500 to buy a tractor and farm implements. Right now, land is sown entirely by hand. You want the farmers, and the boys at the orphanage, to become self-sufficient.

Then, if you are Martha Deegan, you ask “06880” readers to help. You have faith that your neighbors will understand that you can’t do everything.

But you know that — especially in this season of giving — they (like you) will do whatever they can.

(Donations can be made for scholarships and for the tractor by clicking here. You can also send a check to Kwetu Faraja, 223 West 12th Street, Anderson, IN 46016-1331.)

As young boys swim in Tanzania, older ones keep watch for crocodiles and poisonous snakes. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

As young boys swim in Tanzania, older ones keep watch for crocodiles and poisonous snakes. (Photo/Thor Deegan)