Joe Harvard is certainly a man with a vision.
In about a year, Joe helped turn an unassuming back room in the Ballard United Methodist Church in Asbury Park into a multimedia haven of sorts for the surrounding community. He offers free computer time, job skills classes, music lessons, and production courses to anyone who walks through his doors. The mission is simple: provide an environment for children and adults alike that helps level the playing field so the economically less fortunate can have an equal chance at developing skills that will help them in the future. But the road getting there hasn't been as clear.
"Maybe I was a little naive," he tells me as we stand in the little room known as the Media Center @ Ballard. A program that he thought would take a few months to get up and running to meet his full vision has taken a lot longer than he anticipated due to budget and volunteer staffing concerns. Despite all this, the Media Center @ Ballard continues to fulfill its mission to the community.
And that's exactly the sort of organization that we at Musicians on a Mission strive to support.
(l-r) Ben Carter, Platinum Minds teacher, Mohamet Diack, Ali Diack, Ibrahima Diack, students at the Media Center, Joe Harvard, Dave Cottrell, Ballard Council President and Breakfast Coordinator, Annette Taylor, Thrift Shop Coordinator
MOAM visited the Media Center @ Ballard on a chilly Saturday afternoon to find Joe engrossed with three young Media Center students, teaching them how to use technology to produce music beats. The wall was full of old albums that could be played on a turntable, which was hooked up to a couple iPads and synthesizers. The rest of the room was filled with musical instruments and computer equipment, displaying the wide range of services the Media Center provides. The students were experimenting with the different sounds they could make while Joe excitedly pointed out different aspects of the program.
We couldn't have been more pleased to present Joe and the rest of the Media Center @ Ballard staff with a check (we finally got to use our brand new MOAM giant check!) for $700, which was raised from our recent Come To Your Senses event at the Monmouth Beach Cultural Center. Every penny that was given at that event went directly to the Media Center @ Ballard.
When we handed it over, Joe explained that the $700 represented his entire budget for this year. With it, he planned to upgrade the Media Center @ Ballard's Internet, which would provide faster browsing capacity and enable him to start implementing some of his other ideas. One of these was a free "Family History" class, in which participants would learn how to create their own basic websites and upload family photos onto them, giving them a digital scrapbook of sorts.
As we left, we were thanked profusely for our donation. But we all know that the true thanks goes to YOU: the MOAM member. Without the dedicated musicians, volunteers, and local music supporters that attend and play at our events, we would not be able to support grassroots organizations that do wonderful things in our community, like the Media Center @ Ballard.
Thank you to all who attended Come to Your Sense for making it a memorable event and for helping to support a great organization. We hope to see you at the next one!
For more information on the Media Center @ Ballard, please visit their website.
Special thanks to our talented musical acts who donated their time to Come To Your Senses! Please consider supporting the artists and vendors who support us.
Surf's Up Candles