Story of The Week 11/21/2016

Story of the Week


11/21/2016 Story of The Week

The Power of Music and AmeriCorps

By John Capitanelli, Housing Vermont Connections Community Coordinator

The story begins when I went to one of our affordable housing developments to conduct surveys and collect data in Springfield. As I was approaching one of the affordable housing units, I heard the sound of the keys to a piano being hit.. I knocked on the door and the sound stopped. The father opened the door and I began to give my speech about the surveys and why we are doing them.

As I was talking, a little girl around the age of 9 years old ran up to me, grabbed my hand and began to smell it. Her father immediately told me that she was autistic and not to worry about her actions. The father was interested to participate in the survey and invited me into his house. Throughout the survey, the father was telling me about how his life is living with a daughter who is autistic, a wife with very bad anxiety, working as a night janitor, not having enough income to support his family, and so on. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He really opened up to me in a way that hit me so deep I wanted to cry. Yet, he didn’t have a bad attitude about it. He truly accepted his life and worked hard to support his family no matter what obstacle he faced.

After we talked and I finished the survey, I asked if I could play a little tune on the piano for his daughter; he was more than happy to let me play. I sat down on the bench and played middle C and held the note. His daughter, who was sitting on the couch behind me at the time, tried to match the pitch of the sound with her voice. She then ran over to sit down next to me. I played a note higher and held it; she tried to match the pitch. Then again and again, and she kept almost hitting the same notes with her voice. I began to play a song and she started to sing and hit the keys sitting next to me. As I was playing, I looked over at her and she had a huge smile on her face.

After playing, the father walked me to the door and thanked me so much for playing piano with his daughter. He explained how it never gets played by anyone else and that he was so happy to see his daughter sit on the bench with someone and play. He invited me over to eat food later, but I had many surveys I needed to complete and couldn’t make it happen.

Later that night I reflected about my moment with that one resident. Thus, it was that night my eyes were opened up to a new perspective of life I’ve never seen. His story was so meaningful to me; I developed this internal drive to help individuals and families that don’t have the resources to support their lives. I also became a lot more grateful of my life. I really didn’t know how lucky I am to have the support system and opportunities that are given to me on a regular basis. After AmeriCorps, I still want to help those who do not have such opportunities and resources, because everybody deserves a chance to seize every opportunity to succeed in life.

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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