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Pay It Foward: Bringing Music To Nursing Homes

Tallie Johnson |
May 16, 2012 | 3:52 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The phrase "pay it forward" is gaining new meaning for a group of musicians who are giving back one song at a time.

Pay it Forward brings cheer to local nursing homes. (Tallie Johnson/ Neon Tommy)
Pay it Forward brings cheer to local nursing homes. (Tallie Johnson/ Neon Tommy)

Volunteer musicians come together to perform only for the sick, lonely, and elderly patients in nursing homes. They call themselves the Pay it Forward Band. The group is comprised over 100 musicians of all ages who all have the desire to give back to their community.

The band has a rotating roster of performers and brings their musical acts to an average of two nursing homes a week.

Gary Gamponia, founded the group to bring enjoyable music to those who may not have access to live performances otherwise. The band charges nothing for their performances, and try to play classic cover of songs from the past.

“Music is a powerful therapy, but this music has even more of an impact because it is the music of their past,” Gampoania said.

With a new group of musicians and band members with nearly every performance, the group must be able to play a wide variety of music from a variety of time periods on the spot.

Alissa Sanders, a jazz singer, has spent years abroad in Brazil performing before coming back to the United States and volunteering for the Pay It Forward Band.

“It’s really fun to perform for people who have memories of these songs,” Sanders said. “It’s part of the soundtrack of these people’s lives.”

John Olivas has worked at the Garden Crest Rehabilitation Center in Silverlake for three years as the activities director. He has always booked the Pay it Forward band because of both their professionalism and the reaction of the residents.

“This band has great energy," Olivas said.  “It puts a smile on the residents faces.”

Garden Crest Nursing Home resident, June Holford, was looking forward to the band because she had heard them before. Holford was dancing in her chair the entire time the band was playing.

“The music is just great,” said Holford. “It’s in my soul and it’s in my broken legs.”

Pay it Forward hopes to someday have similar bands in cities across the country.

“It’s a privilege to do this," Gampoani said. “ It’s a privilege to be able to give to people who gave so much to us.”

Check out the band performing here:



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