Every Wednesday morning, just before 10am, participants, referred to as “consumers,” at the Fulton County ReHABILITATION Center begin waiting patiently for one of their favorite weekly events... Live music provided by local artists.
“The consumers are a great group of people that don’t get to go to concerts or get out into social events too often.” says organizer, Bob Long. He knew that bringing in artists for community involvement would be good for both the community and the consumers.
“Heather Green was our first artist. April 7th, 2016.” Bob has been organizing volunteers and bringing artists in every Wednesday morning since early 2016.
Now, local musicians sign up months in advance for the opportunity to play for this group of unique individuals.
Artists play for approximately 90 minutes while consumers watch. Many sing along, dance, and even play instruments as well.
This music experience is the greatest gig on earth. It frees you: mind, body, and spirit… and everyone on earth should walk in and donate at least an hour of your life it will change you forever. - Tim Woods
It’s a well known fact that there are benefits to bringing music to the intellectually disabled. It’s not difficult to Google stories of non-verbal individuals who began singing or people with an inability to stand on their own learning to dance due to music. Reading those stories is great, but being there is so amazing. I’ve been twice now. Once Neil Dennis was playing and the other time I rode along with Joey Prater and Sherri Depew. Actually seeing these FCRC consumers light up, dance, sing, etc. nearly brought me to tears more than once.
Interested in finding ways you can get involved with FCRc?
Volunteer to share a talent, skill, or hobby with the consumers.
Follow their Facebook page to keep up with activities, events, and donation requests.
Let the consumers help you with a task for your business (stuffing envelopes, affixing postage, assembling booklets, etc.) at FCRC or at your business.
Last week I watched as a woman in a wheelchair was pushed to the front near the artists, her smile growing as she approached them. She and her caregiver, Erin, were dancing when Erin’s face lit up. Erin excitedly told others… “She’s singing!” I turned to watch her and sure enough, as Joey Prater and Sherri Depew hit the chorus of the song, this woman “Woo-hoo’d” right on cue with the music.
After a show, artists are presented with a stack of artwork completed that morning as a Thank You. Then they pose for a group picture with some of the consumers.
FCRC offers day program services that provide participants with an enjoyable and meaningful day while building the knowledge and skills necessary to enrich their lives. What the staff, under the direction of Director Barb Long, also manages to do is create an environment of friendship and acceptance. You can tell just walking into the building that those who work here really care about the people they are working with.
Due to past financial struggles of the agency, Barb and her staff brainstormed new ways to promote community interaction for the consumers, as well as find activities that are meaningful for them. They often go out into the community to help businesses and other non-profits. They have bagged food for local food pantries and sorted clothes for the Salvation Army and other organizations. They enjoy the interaction that comes with helping in the community.
They have also done things like grow a veggie garden and sold veggies from a roadside stand. Although, says Barb, “They are usually more excited about getting passing semis to honk at them than they are about selling the vegetables.” They love interacting with others!
FCRC relies on donations to pay for other activities like trips to the movie theater, the zoo, and other places so that all of the consumers can participate. That’s another reason bringing live music to them is such a great benefit. They are interacting with the community without impacting FCRC’s budget.
Live music mornings is fantastic for both motor skills and social skills. They also get to meet and interact with people they might otherwise never see.
Barb adds, “They touch a lot of lives. Once musicians come in, they want to come back… the consumers touch the singer’s hearts.”
Below are a few photos, taken by Bob Long, of some of the artists who have come to share music with the consumers at FCRC and the fun that was had. Keep scrolling down to read quotes from the artists themselves about why they volunteer at Fulton Country Rehabilitation Center.
Quotes from artists below. Have you volunteered here before as well? Leave a comment and tell us why you loved it!
JL, my mother, and I absolutely love playing at FCRC. It's such a happy atmosphere, AND you'll never find a more excited, interactive crowd anywhere else! - Joey Prater
Very real. So much fun. I would play there again any time! - Donald Egan
I am a gospel singer now, most of the places I sing, while you are singing things are very quiet. Forget that. These people are having the time of their life. That not only makes me feel really good, I know all the glory goes to God, which is my purpose. Thanks for letting me play here. - Herb Tangman
It's THE best gig a musician could play. Best audience ever! There is so much love and joy in the room. - Aaron Duke
I've played there for the past year and a half. My dad, who sings and plays guitar also joined me the last few times. We think they are the best crowd. - Mark Yarbrough
It is a pure joy playing for the great folks at FCRC. The people are very appreciative and are truly genuine. I treasure the gifts they have given me too-the cards, artwork, and most of all their smiles! - Ed Carper
Playing at FCRC is a blast! It makes me so happy to see everyone smiling and to get everyone dancing and singing along. Playing for such an interactive crowd is always the best! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it! - Kacey Garber
I’m not a musician, but the handful of times I attended these events I had a great time! My favorite part was dancing with all my friends who are a part of FCRC. Love these amazing people! - Jim Glass
The reason I volunteer is because watching the consumers have so much fun listening to the music reminds me why I got into this business. – JT Doubet
I volunteer to bring music to FCRC for a simple reason that music is to be shared and bring to happiness to people. They are the best crowd I have ever played for and I truthfully mean that. It is because of their “never give up” attitude and spirit that I strive to share back to them. They have shown me what a true love of friends and happiness is and for that I am forever grateful. It’s a true honor. - Tim Woods
I can’t think of a better place to express love from one human to another ! It changes your outlook immediately! I volunteer everywhere I can, but this place has my heart! It fills me up to face the world I live in and that’s the selfish part. It affords me to feel love and friendship like no other and I’m so grateful to everyone involved for offering musicians a chance to play for an audience like no other! This is one of music’s greatest treasures, to bring joy! Thank you for including me in your journey FCRC!
- Christine Wright
I played the Fulton County Rehabilitation Center because being legally blind, other folks with disabilities hold a special place in my heart. When Bob Long asked me to do it, I couldn't resist. To see people enjoying a performance as much as those folks do, it touches you. - Ron Speaks
Always a pleasure to play and can't thank Bob and Barb enough for having me. It makes my day to play and get back so much energy! - Sean Brown