Casey Bolton Pounds (Amelia and Annabel’s Mom)
"We recently had the pleasure of working with the Sing Me a Story Foundation on a project for our daughters. Our 2 year old, Annabel, is terminally ill, and we were struggling to find meaningful ways for she and her older sister, Amelia (5) to connect. Through Annabel’s hospice team, we learned about SMAS and were very enthusiastic to work with them on a song for the girls. Right away, we received a blank book for Amelia to use for her story. Week after week, she worked with her social worker on filling up the pages with pictures and words and stickers all about Annabel. Once she was finished, off it went to the songwriter - from one artist to the next.
Shortly thereafter, we received word that the song had been recorded and was ready for us to hear it. We really didn’t know what to expect as far as the type of song we would receive. Amelia was only 4 at the time she created the story, so much of it was funny and silly (and sometimes made no sense), but it was all her. I’ll always remember hearing the first few lines of “I Have You Today” and seeing the enormous smile on Amelia’s face as she recognized her own words. Then came the next few lines - that’s when the tears started. The songwriter, Treva Blomquist, managed to take a 4 year old’s drawings and stories and somehow created lyrics that perfectly embodied the relationship of two very special sisters. It’s like she could see inside the soul of all of us who love Annabel, especially Amelia, and she created something unique and amazing for us. Something that no one else could.
I cannot express my gratitude enough for SMAS and what they did for our family. In 50 or 60 years when Amelia’s memory may fail her, she will still be able to listen to that song and remember exactly what it was like to be 5 years old and have the best sister a girl could ask for."
Nick’s Mom, Kathy / Gilda’s Club of Detroit
“I'm Nick's Mom. I'm a Stage 4 Appendix Cancer survivor, and Nick is the second oldest of our five kids. He NEVER liked to write until he started this program at our local Gilda's Club - and now he gets A's in English! We are very proud of him, and I completely love that his story was turned into a song by you!! Thank you!!!!”
Yvonne Marie Glass, MT-BC
"Thank you! My Violin (Amelia's Song) was written for/with my daughter Amelia at Gilda's Club, Nashville. She is cancer free almost 12 years and a spot of sunshine to all who meet her. And, yes, she still plays the violin. In fact, she's thinking about being a music therapist just like her momma! I love the work you do, and especially appreciate that you make it very clear on your site that clinical music therapy is very different than the service you provide. There will never be enough Music Therapists for all of the individuals that desperately need services, and I'm grateful that talented and generous musicians give of their time and talents to serve and bring music to those who will benefit in other meaningful ways."
Kathryn Brooks - Rogers House (Pediatric Palliative Care Organization in Edmonton, CA)
“Dana and Austin,
I just wanted to personally thank you for all the work you both did for Sam’s song. The amount of joy and love that came from this one song was incredible. For the past couple of weeks Sam and his family have been staying at Roger’s House because Sam was nearing end of life.
The Family was constantly listening and singing this song for Sam. They really felt like the song was perfect for Sammy and perfect for their children to show Sam there love. A really special moment that I witnessed was about two days ago. The entire family was sitting outside in the bright shining sun with Sam. I could see them from the window inside that they were trying to take a picture of all 7 or 8 of them. (A selfie that is). So I went outside to go help them with this only to realize that they were all gathered around a very sick Sam singing his song that you wrote. It was so beautiful. Very difficult to hold back the tears.
So Sam pasted away around 7:30 this morning peaceful with his entire family. But I did here that last night when they thought that Sam might pass away, they all sat around him to sing his song to him again.
I just wanted to let you know how special this song really was to them. And how the song was such apart of their journey and way used as a huge way to express their love for him
THANK YOU, THANK YOU,THANK YOU!”
Polly Hurlburt, Child Life Specialist, Hospice of the Chesapeake, Pasadena, MD
"I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Austin, Tom, and our wonderful songwriter Armando of Sing Me a Story. I recently had the pleasure of helping the 7-year-old sister of one of my pediatric hospice patients submit a story to the SMAS website. Austin and Tom were easy to get in touch with and made every step of the process convenient and user-friendly. The young author, Yerini, was delighted to see her story and illustrations appear on the website, and to know that other kids around the world would be able to read her story too. The best part of the whole process, though, was receiving an absolutely beautiful song, inspired by this little girl’s story and written by one of SMAS’s talented songwriters, Armando. Yerini’s mother was moved to tears when she first heard the beautiful song, and Yerini wanted to listen to it over and over again. We were all deeply touched by the obviously heartfelt work that Armando put into both writing and performing this very special song for a very deserving family. Thank you, Sing Me a Story!"
Tara Ntumba, Support Group Director & Therapist (Brooke's Place for Grieving Young People, Indianapolis)
"I just have to thank you - again - for how tenderly you and your songwriters hold this precious kiddos' stories. I can imagine that it is hard when a sad story comes in, but your writers do such a beautiful job of just putting those words to music, and honoring them. It's a whole new way of meeting this kiddo right where he is at his in grief journey - affirming it is OK to grieve, this is your story, and it matters. What an incredible gift."
Margie (Ty’s Mom)
“Love the song that was made for my son. I cry every time I hear it. Ty touched our life in so many ways and we miss him so much. Julie listens to that song all the time. She even wants to play it so Santa can hear it.”
Megan Forshey - Program Manager, Gilda's Club Nashville
Watch Video by Clicking Here!
Mary Woolley, President & CEO, Research!America, after the Rare Diseases: Perspectives on Progress event in Washington, DC.
“There was also a tremendously affecting segment — a song capturing the experience of an amazing 9-year old advocate named Ja’cori …. If you need inspiration to reinforce your advocacy efforts, watch this video and listen to Ja’cori’s song.”
Chris King - Exec. Dir. of Amistad Mission, Bolivia
Watch Video by Clicking Here!
Jamie Polen - Songwriter
"There are a lot of different reasons to write songs, and people write songs for a lot of reasons. If a given writer's list of motivations includes wanting to write songs that have the potential to contribute something good and meaningful to the lives of people who need and deserve good things the most, then Sing Me a Story is worth checking out.
I've written a few songs for Sing Me A Story now. Each has taken about a couple hours to write and record. As for the submission process, it couldn't have been easier.
My hope is that when kids hear these songs they get to experience the excitement that comes from creative expression in a whole new way. I want to show them that some guy with a guitar somewhere sat down and spent some time thinking about the thoughts and ideas they wanted to share through their stories, and I hope they get to feel a connection as a result of that collaboration, as well as a sense of pride and ownership of the resulting song."
Aaron Reisman - Volunteer, May 2012
"Working with Sing Me a Story was a great experience for the children at the Kawempe Youth Center. It was a great way to engage them, let them be creative, and see the potential of their creative work. In a place where free thinking, and the creative spirit isn't something taught in schools Sing Me A Story couldn't have been more relevant.
As volunteer working with Sing Me A Story from abroad I couldn't have found them more helpful or responsive. I look forward to working with them in any capacity I can in the future."
Amanda Christmann Larson – Partner Organization
"Sing Me a Story distributes blank journals and crayons to children in orphanages, hospitals and youth programs across the United States and throughout the world, giving the children an opportunity to write. Founder Austin Atteberry sent us 200 journals to take with us to the rural village of Bakpakope, where we will be going in November and December of 2011 for a medical mission trip and to teach English in the neglected school.
With the help of Sing Me a Story, we'll be helping children who have never even owned extra paper to write down their own thoughts, draw their own pictures and to write stories that they would like to tell. When we return, Sing Me a Story will turn their words into songs so that other children all over the world can sing their songs and share their stories. For the first time ever, they will have a voice.
We are so excited to see what the children create, and even more importantly, we are humbled by the opportunity to show these children that they can speak, and that someone is listening."
"These songs are truly incredible! Lillian is going to be overjoyed. They are truly spectacular! This was a wonderful opportunity. Thank you!"
Krista and Dylan Schoeneck - Conquer Cancer (Family)
“Our experience working with Sing Me A Story was remarkable. What seemed at first overwhelming, writing a story, illustrating a book, and so many things outside of our comfort zone, turned out to be a great family bonding adventure.
Tom did such a fantastic job working with Tenley and Kenedi to get the story put together. He didn't add his ideas or try to mold the story, he just pushed for more of their ideas to help the story flow. The girls had such a great time working through their ideas and sharing the spot in the writer's chair.
That same experience flowed to the 'making of' video. While the interviews at times got emotional, it was quite possibly the family healing moment that we didn't know that we needed. We can see the change in the girls from that of sadness or victim, to that of courage and accomplishment. The 'fame' that followed the story let them shine in ways that we couldn't have imagined. From everyone knowing who the girls are at school and asking for autographs to notes coming that kids were singing Chicken Strong at home, each brought a glow to their faces. They are (rightfully) so proud of what each of them went through.
Hearing Kat's amazing voice in our living room with a story that we could not have imagined as a song was literally breathtaking. The care and love that went into this process from everyone involved with SMAS is so heartwarming. Thank you for supporting kids and their families that have gone through a hard time.”
Laura Soukup - Anita Kaufmann Foundation (Family)
“I wanted to send this note thanking Sing Me a Story and Irene Rose for bringing such joy and happiness to Rayna. Creating a story and placing her words to the pages was something that validated Rayna's life, her essence. She felt heard and felt she was voicing how she was dealing with epilepsy and her life in her way and maybe this could help others do the same.
When you provided her the song Irene Rose created, you touched her soul. Since she heard the song, she has been singing it and dancing to it. She has shared it with people close to her and they too can feel Rayna within the song.
I think the song is providing Rayna with strength and inspiring her. It just seems that each time she sings the song, it gives her a new found determination to persevere.
I know these may just seem like words to you, but it is so much more. Rayna knows struggles, she has encountered more than many encounter in a lifetime. Processing may be slower but all the hurt and emotions and understanding is all there.
I thank you for bringing her light by giving her a voice and setting her up with a tool, her song, Strong I Stand, which is giving her a power and strength to keep on doing what she is doing.
Thank you again and God bless you for the work you are doing helping others.”
Reita Reid - The ALS Association of Tennessee (Family)
“I have no adequate words to thank you enough! It was the most wonderful music. I can't begin to express how lovely it was. The hammered dulcimer, violin, and voice blended so perfectly, it was hard to tell one from another. Thank you for working with the logistics so we could enjoy the music live!
Stephen's song perfectly captured the idea of the tea party as a calling to friendship, to comfort, to sharing. The song was so sweet, it wrung tears from me.( I hope I didn't mess up the video.) He wrote it as a waltz which connected with Aviva's idea of dancing to Mozart. Stephen and Rachel are truly lovely people. They were so gracious to give the gift of song to total strangers. I hope they go on to write more songs for SMAS, to bless other families.
We can hardly believe your skill and heart in putting this all together... finding the perfect musicians, songwriters and videographer for this project. Joseph was wonderful, helping us be more comfortable with the camera. It's been obvious, through every step of this project, how you care about people. It seems like more of a ministry than a mere job. My children and I will always remember Sing Me a Story and you with appreciation.You helped create pleasant, happy memories for our family, even in the midst of dark times.
For all you do, thank you.”
Suzanne Gwynn, Founder/CEO - Ladybug House (Nonprofit Partner)
As an RN taking on finding a way to bring pediatric palliative and hospice services and family support to the community of Seattle in the form of a brick and mortar home-away-from-home has been to say the least, a challenge.
Every now and then a knight on a crazy unicorn enters my world and puts out his hand. In this case the knight is Tom Chester. If I’m correct, I met Tom about 2 years ago, he was enthusiastic and excited to share Sing Me a Story with the families in our Ladybug House Community. I shared with Tom that we are a volunteer run organization but Knight Chester wouldn’t take no for an answer, instead he said “let me help” and then he laid out how he could help. To an exhausted NP Founder/ RN these words were magical.
And so that is what Tom did. He helped. 6 children in our community by year end will benefit from this incredible program.
With Covid, Ladybug House lost our office, supporters and sponsorship opportunities. I have been the farthest thing from helpful with Tom and yet here we are, 4 successful Stories, 4 happy families and two more getting ready to participate.
Sing me a story is so much more than I imagined. It’s community, it’s friendship, it’s support and it’s faith. Not only in the families you all serve but with the leaders you work with.
I am honored that Ladybug House has been the recipient of Tom and the team's time, patience and hard work.You have the gratitude of the families who’ve participated, our team and more than I can say. From this nurse who is grateful for all of you.
Hugs and gratitude.”
Bret Barczak, Chief Marketing Officer - Numotion (Sponsor)
“I was initially intrigued by the unique concept of SMAS. I had never seen anything like what they do. They are making kids and families feel good in such a unique and creative way. From my first meeting with Austin, I felt his passion and commitment to this purpose. This became more clear as I met Tom and others at SMAS. They genuinely care and it comes out in their work.
From a business perspective, it made sense for us to become a Corporate Partner as we have a unique connection to a joint purpose of serving others. We were able to bring the joy of the SMAS experience to kids and families that are customers of ours. But even if you don’t have this same direct connection, the positivity SMAS will bring to your brand is worth the investment as a Corporate Partner. We have worked with SMAS for 4 years. Every year we tweaked the program together just a bit to meet our needs, and every year they delivered tremendous output with great songs, high-quality videos, and outstanding experiences for the kids and families they worked with on behalf of Numotion and the Numotion Foundation.
On top of it all, the SMAS team is so easy to work with. They communicate with you regularly and were always very responsive to our needs and suggestions. I would highly recommend a Corporate Partnership with SMAS. You will enjoy the experience."
The Meyers-Reardons - Make-a-Wish Central & Western NC (Family)
"What a month it has been since we received our SONG! We love it so much and literally go around singing it every single day! Each morning when I drop the girls off at school, I say to them “Y’all have the Best. Day. Ever!”
Being able to make a video, create a book and then have it turned into a song was one of the best gifts our family has ever received. Letting the girls share in this activity and it not be overshadowed by illnesses or tailored to the child with sickness was very special to not only the girls, but to both Kevin and me.
The professionalism of you and the Kim Brattain Media team was paramount, making everything over the two filming sessions run extremely smooth. Our singer/songwriter Crystal Bowersox was the perfect choice for our family; we truly couldn’t think of a better person to write our song!
We are so thankful for the gift Make-A-Wish Central & Western NC and Quility Insurance gave to our family. Thank you for what you and SMAS do for families. We are forever grateful for this experience and will cherish the memories forever."
Jasmine Czarnecki - Smile Train (Family)
"I've always been told, people come into your life for reasons or for seasons. With that being said, although you were here for a brief season, your impact you made to our family is the reason for this note.
I received a surprising email stating that my son, Daniel, had been selected to work with the SMAS team through SmileTrain. A few preliminary intro emails were thrown around, but we finally landed ourselves with Tom Chester (aka Mr. Tom at our household) who would help us out through the entire journey.
We had a few calls to set up things, but the real fun happened when Daniel got to meet Mr. Tom. First virtual, to gather Daniel's story, but a promise of an in-person visit would be soon enough, which had all of our Czarnecki boys excited for Mr. Tom and "his" film crew.
That day came, and Daniel was thrilled to meet Mr. Tom and share his story! We bonded with Mr. Tom after finding out he was expecting a baby, who was supposed to be born on my birthday (but had different plans), and truly, just an extremely patient person who was so committed to listening to every word either one of my boys threw at him. After a long day of filming, and pizza for lunch, it was time for Mr. Tom to leave us and get started on finding us a singer for our song.
Some time went by, but behind the scenes, Mr. Tom and his team were working their magic and found us a songwriter team who was ready to write Daniel's song! At the drop of a dime, yet again, Mr. Tom flew to us in NJ and met us again.
Hearing Daniel's song being sung, at a beautiful venue, with my family was an unforgettable experience. Granted, Daniel's song had nothing to do about his cleft journey whatsoever, but I understood the reason behind it. Daniel didn't see himself as different from his cleft, and never lived a difficult life like the families and children I'm working so hard for within SmileTrain. It only solidifies what I need to do. Which is to continue spreading awareness of Cleft-impacted people around the world. Each cleft-impacted person should get to feel like my "King Daniel" and I will do my best to achieve that for them.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Mr. Tom again, but we at least have "King Daniel's" song readily available to play to our hearts content.
You and the SMAS team are truly doing something special and we are beyond grateful to have been selected, and are honored to have worked with you. I wish you nothing but continued success in everything that you do."