Just like we here at HelloGiggles like to spread love on the regular, mtvU has also become hip to revealing random kindness happening all over the nation. It continues to become increasingly evident that there are thousands of young adults doing wonderful things, bettering our world one small act of love at a time. Over the past week, Princeton student Leora Friedman won over the hearts of millions as they learned, through mtvU’s Random Acts, that she dedicates herself to putting smiles on the faces of critically ill children, one moving musical note at a time.
Friedman and her sister Ariela have long had a passion for music, both guitar players with a strong affinity for singing and songwriting. During the summer of 2008, the duo decided to use their proficiency for music to spread a special type of love to sick children in their hometown of Baltimore. As a result, Music Is Medicine, a youth-run organization that strives to empower musicians to use their talent to give back, was born.
The first lucky recipient of the Friedman sisters entrepreneurial kindness was the Hackerman-Patz House, a facility that provides a home away from home for children and their families who have come from all over the world to receive therapy and limb-lengthening surgery. After receiving a $500 dollar grant from John Hopkins University, the Friedman girls were able to donate instruments, perform for the residents, host songwriting workshops and produce an album comprised of original songs all inspired by and written for the children of the Hackerman-Patz House. A summer spent helping children to heal through music and the ultimate production of A Friend Like You, proved that with a little money and a great deal of compassion and drive, wonderful acts of philanthropy can make a significant impact. The fat lady didn’t sing, however, at the close of summer in 2008 as the Friedman sisters were inspired to find ways to continue making melodies for the children.
Music Is Medicine has consistently grown into what is quickly becoming a nationally recognized campaign in just a few short years. In 2009, Leora and Ariela were awarded a $3,000 Key Change Grant from the Do Something organization and the Grammy Foundation, allowing them to fund another full summer of programming at the Hackerman-Patz House, culminating in a second album, When You Wish Upon A Star. In 2011, Leora Friedman was selected as a Global Teen Leader for her work as co-founder and CEO of Music Is Medicine, expanding their reach and exposing thousands more to their campaign of kindness. As rapidly as the word got out, the volunteer offers rushed in; teens and youth groups from all over the nation have contacted Leora to find out how they can start chapters within their communities, proof that kindness spreads like wildfire.
Today, Leora and the Music Is Medicine team work with a national staff and group of interns to spread love through music from coast to coast. The organization has raised over $11,000 and focuses on two main initiatives: Donate A Song Project and Music For Change Campaign. The Donate A Song Project allows musicians to write a song for a pediatric patient, often performing it for them in the hospital in which they are confined due to their illness. Songs are later recorded and made available for purchase worldwide with 100% of the proceeds going to medical-related charities. The Music For Change Campaign represents a grassroots effort to encourage musicians to use their natural gifts and passions for positive change. Through the campaign the team hopes to inspire people in all musical fields to donate their talent, allow their love of music to empower them to give back to their communities. While each project is unique, both give those with a love of music an opportunity to use the gifts they were given to give back.
When asked what inspired her to use her personal passion to start Music Is Medicine, Leora explained that she grew up learning about the terrible hardships young children were forced to face everyday when diagnosed with life threatening diseases. As she discussed her father’s work as a pediatric oncologist, Friedman recalls, “I did not have a medical degree, but I knew how to use what I love (music) to brighten their lives and that meant the world to me.” It is very apparent that Friedman has shown us all that you do not need a doctorate to make a difference in the lives of critically ill children. In fact, it may be those with a great musical knowledge and no medical know-how that offer the most kindness and joy in times of sickness and hardship.
While each of us busy ourselves praising this young lady, a college junior at the very beginning of her adult life, what Friedman finds most inspiring are the children to which her work is committed. Not surprisingly, this kind-souled collegian puts a great deal of the praise back on the patients. “Mostly my passion is derived from the children I work with. Their strength in the face of incredible hardship inspires me to do what I can do help and inspire them,” said Friedman. It must be true then, that one kind act sets off a domino affect, because while Leora’s patients inspire her, she is inspiring an entire nation.
I suspect the success that this latest effort at positive social change has seen will only continue to grow exponentially in the coming weeks, as the loving CEO recently received a surprise that is sure to have an impact on support. Last week, singer/songwriter and Glee star Darren Criss surprised Leora after getting wind of her organization. Criss was so moved by Friedman’s mission that he invited her to be his date to the MTV Video Music Awards, walking the red carpet to promote her charitable projects. After this gesture, one must imagine it is likely that Criss will put pencil to paper and fingers to chords for the Donate A Song Project. Here’s hoping that other big name artists take notice of his support and follow suit.
A good melody or well-written lyric can speak to the soul. Each of us can instantly name those songs that have the power to inspire us in wonderful ways. Leora Friedman, while also maintaining her status as collegian at Princeton none-the-less, has taken the power of music and harnessed it for good. There is almost no greater inspiration than to watch success unfold for an individual who is committed to using their passion as a vehicle for kindness. Leora’s greatest hope for the organization at which she sits at the helm is that it will show the world that music can be used to instigate positive social change. Rest assured Leora, your kindness and beautiful melodies have already done just that.
Leora was once quoted as saying, “Children represent the world’s future leaders, or, as I like to say, tomorrow’s superheroes. The ones who will save our society from self-destruction.” There is no argument there. The children that are being touched by Music Is Medicine may turn out to, someday, walk in Ms. Friedman’s footsteps. For that, and for her extreme kindness, we must thank her. She is truly today’s superhero and we can only hope that there are more like her on the way.
Featured Image via MTV Act.