Every year, the Easton Community Foundation chooses six local nonprofit organizations to support as part of its Change for Charity initiative. Our Change for Charity partner in March and April was Harmony Project, an organization founded on bringing together people of all walks of life for artistic passion and uniting communities.
To help you learn more about Harmony Project and the opportunities it provides, we sat down with Director of Digital Media Kadi McDonald.
How did Harmony Project get started and how has it changed since it started?
Harmony Project is an arts and service organization here in Columbus that started in 2009. I learned about it through an ad that said, “Would you like to sing in a group?” I showed up to the first meeting with 100 others, learned a song, and two months later we were all standing together on the stage of the Lincoln Theatre, presenting two sold-out shows to the community. After those performances, we had no idea if we’d ever come together again. And here we are, almost ten years later.
Harmony Project was built on the idea of bringing people together who love music and singing. It wasn’t about having a great voice. There are no auditions to become part of the choir. It’s not about the quality of your voice, it’s how you use it. As we’ve grown as an organization, we’ve grown our community service and outreach, too. Everything we do supports our vision of working together to build a stronger, more inclusive community.
Can you tell us a little more about your programming elements? How exactly does Harmony Project bring the community together?
Our programming touches many parts of the community: elementary students, high school students, differently-abled adults, the women of the Tapestry in-patient rehabilitation program at the Ohio Reformatory for Women, CEOs, formerly homeless, formerly incarcerated – the list goes on and on.
One thing we remind the women in our program at ORW of is where they are does not define who they are. This applies to all of our programs. No matter your circumstances — whether you have everything or nothing or something in between, – Harmony Project believes in the power of your voice.
While singing and music are what Harmony is most recognized for, all of our program participants are required to serve. Our volunteers contributed over 60,000 hours to the community in 2018, and we’re on track to surpass that number this year. Since 2010, we’ve hosted our award-winning One Week, One Neighborhood week of service. This year, we’ll have over 500 volunteers serving in four different neighborhoods across the city – the South Side, Franklinton, King-Lincoln, and Northland – planting trees, serving meals, painting murals, and building stronger, more inclusive communities.
What does it really mean for Harmony Project to be a part of Easton’s Change for Charity program?
Having the support of something as prominent as Easton gives us such a great opportunity to serve as a snapshot of Columbus. When people come to Easton, we hope they feel the value of their change and know that we’re grateful for them. Change for Charity gives us, as an organization, a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our messaging and showcase the work that we do.
How does Harmony Project plan to use the funds raised from Change for Charity?
We serve over one-thousand people with our programming, over 10,000 with our performances, and thousands more with our service. Our most immediate need is our spring production, a free community concert that will be at the Columbus Commons. We made the decision last year to make the summer concert in the park free for everybody, and decided to do that again this year. And while ticket sales typically provide a lot of the financial support needed for the production, we know that access to the arts is limited for a majority of the community.
What are some ways people can get involved with Harmony Project and help outside of Change for Charity?
In Harmony Project, we have three words that identify how you can get involved with our work: sing, serve, share. Those interested in singing can add their name to our waiting list. Our Harmony-affilitated volunteer opportunities are available to the public, so people can check out those opportunities and sign up to serve anytime. The “Share” element is simply sharing the love and our message of what Harmony Project stands for — building a stronger, more inclusive community.
If you’d like to get involved with Harmony Project, visit their website, or give them a call at (614) 564-9300.