Chandler woman joins music nonprofit as fundraiser - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler woman joins music nonprofit as fundraiser

March 28th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler woman joins music nonprofit as fundraiser
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By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Chandler resident Darcy Hill learned how to raise money out of necessity.

“I was actually in the performing arts, as a director, behind the scenes,” Hill said. “I went to school in Chicago, Columbia College Chicago and after that they don’t really give you a business plan. They tell you all about the art, they tell you all about how to deal with actors, but they didn’t tell you how to deal with producers, managers, executives. They didn’t tell you how to get yourself paid a living wage.”

So, if she wanted to put on her own shows, she had to secure the financial backing first. That led her on a path that became her career.

“I can pay my rent with this. This is a day job I can do,” she realized.

Now she raises money for Rosie’s House, a Phoenix-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to youth. It takes a lot of money for a worthwhile cause to do good in the community.

It’s Hill’s job to make sure Rosie’s House has the funds.

Rosie Schurz saw a need in her community in 1996.

“Lots of kids with nothing to do after school, lots of crime,” Hill said. “She had left Germany after the war, and had to leave her instrument behind. She really felt like that was a missed opportunity in her life. So, she wanted to make sure that was available to the kids in her neighborhood.”

Schurz was 7 when her family left Germany after the war and she had just started taking violin lessons at the time.

She and her husband bought a house in Central Phoenix and renovated it. Then she started giving saxophone lessons out of a bedroom in that home. They quickly outgrew that space and soon started renting a room at a local church.

Rosie’s House moved into their new facility about a year ago on 9th Street and Jefferson in Downtown Phoenix. Hill said they raised about $5.5 million of a $6.5 million goal to move into that building. Most of the renovations to their new space are complete. The rest of the money that is raised will go to furniture and signage.

“This is our first permanent facility,” Hill said.

The facility includes a digital music lab and a recording studio.

She said her main goal now is to get some sustainable funds so Rosie’s House can expand for the long term.

There are currently a little more than 500 students taking classes at Rosie’s House and could only accommodate about 350 students before moving into the new space. That meant turning down half the students who applied, Hill said.

Now, she said, the new space should be able to house about 1,000 students once they finish the fundraising.

Hill said the students come from all over Maricopa County, but a majority of them are in South Phoenix. She said some students come from the East Valley, although parents usually have to drive them back and forth.

Only children in families considered low income by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are accepted.

One of the reasons there is a waiting list to get into Rosie’s House is because it has been successful helping the students it works with to graduate from high school.

“We have a college pathway program,” Hill said. “So, we not only are giving kids a high-quality music education, but 97% of our students graduate from high school and go on to college. The rate of their peers is like 55%. We’re really proud of that.”

Students also need to commit to practicing and attending lessons. One of their parents also needs to commit to work a few hours. There is also an audition process during the application process.

Rosie’s House will begin producing shows at its new location in April. It normally puts on about four to five shows a year.

Another thing Rosie’s House does is provide meals to the students through a partnership with St. Mary’s Food Bank.

“I think that’s an important part of education, is making sure they’re fed,” Hill said. “They don’t necessarily know where their next meal is coming from, but they know they can get it at Rosie’s House.”

Rosie’s House will hold a big fundraising gala May 7. Information on tickets and other ways to help is at rosieshouse.org.

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