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It Takes a Village

Godwin ArrivalIt’s not every day that we have the opportunity to make a difference in under a minute. This summer, Godwin Akoumani, a student at Charter Oak Cultural Center (COCC), wanted to attend the Litchfield Jazz Camp, but unfortunately, his family did not have the funds to make it happen. Godwin’s mother, Stella, reached out to Susan Mazer at COCC who was determined to find a way. That’s when she called SpreadMusicNow, and after a few seconds of hearing Godwin’s story, they agreed to help by funding his tuition. And that’s how a summer was made.

“The experience changed his life,” said Susan Mazer of COCC. “Two weeks at camp may very well alter the course of his future.”

Godwin has been playing the trumpet for about four years, and when he told his mother, Stella, that he wanted to go to Litchfield Jazz Camp, she knew that he needed this valuable opportunity to create a lifelong memory. When Stella reached out to Susan at the last minute, she did not hesitate. “We will make it happen, Stella, Godwin is a good and talented boy,” she said.

“I am forever grateful,” said Stella. “I just wanted to let everyone know that there are still a lot of good people out there, no matter what is going on, you just need to reach out to them. They are ready to help. [I] never realized how important [our children’s] success in life, education, and well-being is to them until Susan Mazer proved that to me.”

This experience was so much more than musical training. “Camp for youth, especially a musical one, not only will help him to develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills but can also help him express himself through music,” said Stella. “He told me often that playing the trumpet makes him calm and feel alive. Knowing how difficult it was for all of us during this unprecedented time, I know this will give him a chance to have a different environment, interact with peers, build confidence and independence.”

Godwin Check inStella recognized the importance of going to camp, but she was still worried leading up to drop off. “I was so excited and at the same time anxious, so was Godwin. But it all changed once we arrived at the camp. The staff were so welcoming and made us feel at home. I was greeted by Ms. Vita, the founder of Litchfield Jazz Camp, who introduced herself to me, talked with my sons, and assured me that he is in good hands. What a relief. Thank you, Ms. Vita, for the way you made us feel that day. It will stay with us forever.”

“Godwin had a good experience and created a new memory that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. On the fourth day, I complained that he was not calling or letting us know how things were going, and he said, “Mom, I am so busy having fun, this is like home. Don’t worry.”

When he got home, he asked to apply right away so he is guaranteed a place for next year. That is how welcomed and loved he felt. I hope that one day we will be able to pay it forward.”

Godwin Playing TrumpetGodwin was grateful for the opportunity to attend Litchfield Jazz Camp. “I had an amazing experience and learned many things about Jazz. I learned many tips on how to play the trumpet better, modes in music, the Harlem Cultural Festival, and much more. What I liked at the Litchfield Jazz Camp was the hospitality I was given and the things I learned. I also liked how the staff helped students like myself with questions and explaining things in music. [I was] able to socialize with different people and make new friends along the way.”

“My favorite part of camp was when we would perform concerts to show our skills and what we learned every day,” said Godwin. “All of this would have not been possible without your help.”

“He was gone for only 2 weeks, but let me tell you, he’s changed,” said Stella. “He is more thoughtful, appreciative, and mostly happier. I do not have to argue with him before he makes his bed or cleans up his room. He is more independent. He practices trumpet every single day. It’s like he found a new connection to the music. So, I want to let all of you that made this happen know that you did this, you are shaping the future generation by providing them with opportunities. They always say it takes a village, and I am so grateful that you are part of the village that is raising my son.”

Check out some of the students' performances while at camp:

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