By Naomi Ehrenkranz
The Music Undergraduate Support Initiative for Children, Veterans and Seniors (Music VS) is a new community service group on campus, recently started by sophomores Justin Kelman and Gedaliah Knizhnik.
Kelman and Knizhnik created the group last spring, after a friend approached them and asked about starting a chapter at the University of Maryland. As of now, Music VS has visited a group home for adults with developmental disabilities twice; once last semester and once this semester, in order to play music and get to know the residents.
There are a total of four events planned for this semester, Kelman, the president of the Music VS at UMD, said. After a successful first meeting on Sept. 14 at the Berlinsky Home and Meisel Group Homes, another three events remain, with the possibility of additions.
Music VS is open to anyone looking to find a fun community service opportunity and play music to brighten other people’s days, Kelman said.
The group meets occasionally for music rehearsals, but according to Kelman, ”you don’t have to be musically talented in order to participate in this group…What’s important is making these people happy.”
Knizhnik, the chapter vice president, said Music VS is a rewarding experience. “I am able to see the time I put into learning how to play an instrument has a purpose and can make people happy.”
Before Music VS visits the group homes, members ask the residents what type of music they would want to hear. Since most of the residents are older, Music VS plays a great deal of tunes oldies. The Beatles are a particular favorite of the residents. However, other genres are also performed during the sessions, Knizhnik said.
The goal of Music VS is to visit group homes, play music, dance and connect with the residents.
“Really the greater mission of Music VS is to build relationships with the lonelier, ill people…and to give the residents a good time,” Kelman said.
The group is looking to “expand and try to go to more homes and senior centers so that we can send more people to more places and have a good number of people at each place,” said Carol Teitelbaum, the group’s marketing director.
The leaders hope to find different venues and partner up with other organizations on campus. At the beginning of the semester, they took to the annual First Look Fair on the mall in order to spread the word about Music VS.
“The First Look Fair was a great opportunity to reach out to a broader variety of people,” Teitelbaum said. According to Teitelbaum, over 80 students put their names down on the list.
The annual Maryland Hillel Barbecue was another wonderful opportunity for Music VS to recruit others, Teitelbaum said. Anyone who would like to be a part of the University of Maryland Music VS chapter should talk to Kelman, Knizhnik or Teitelbaum and check out the Music VS Facebook page.