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Bread & Roses Blog

News and information from Bread & Roses, a non-profit organization that presents live music to bring hope, healing and joy to the community.

The Bread & Roses Staff love to share and know that people like to hear the stories of upliftment and encouragement through music. Feel free to share blog posts on social media, comment on them and rate posts. That helps!

Fearless Harmony by San Domenico Advanced Vocal Ensemble at Atria Tamalpais

An appreciative group of seniors at Atria Tamalpais Creek, a senior living facility in Novato, were treated recently to the musical magic of a largely a capella group of eleven talented teenage girls from San Domenico School in San Anselmo. The Advanced Vocal Ensemble (known as AVE and pronounced like Ave Maria) is from the middle school. The poise of these girls belies their age (12 and 13.) Several of them sang solos with the others backing them up, and one young lady sang an original song, accompanying herself on piano. 

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Brotherhood for Bread & Roses: The Legendary Mighty O’Town Passions at Crossroads in Oakland

As the name implies, The Legendary Mighty O’Town Passions are a musical force to be reckoned with. More than a performing group, they are a musical ministry for good. They take their uplifting songs to the streets, to the stage and to the shelters – as they did for Bread & Roses Presents on February 16, 2017.


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“Pass the Music” Events Help Launch New Backstage 365 Club


Bread & Roses board member Alex Wellins recently sponsored the first "Pass the Music" lunchtime event at The Blueshirt Group in San Francisco. The idea was born while brainstorming at a January board planning session as a way of cultivating the younger high tech workforce to learn about our mission and to become involved in supporting our organization. We are grateful that Alex came up with the concept and offered to host the first event at his impressive office in downtown San Francisco.

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The Shows: Our Reason For Being

Every day of the year isolated audiences in the Bay Area enjoy the superb, live entertainment that our volunteer performers provide. Our small, dedicated staff expertly matches performers with the right audiences and brings in new artists to enhance our roster. The facilities we serve have only praise for the shows we bring.

As the needs of the community grow, we continue to explore new audiences who thrive on the joy and connection we bring. Recently we added several new facilities to stretch our demographic reach: the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland, Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco, St. Vincent’s Dining Room in San Rafael and the Hanna Boys Center in Glen Ellen. From time to time we help our facility partners with music for special events such as the “National Salute to Our Veterans” day at the San Francisco Veterans Hospital and the annual “Day of Peace” at San Quentin.


The Bay Area is fertile ground for artists, and part of our work is cultivating them to volunteer, to share their gifts with our neighbors in need. We get to be talent scouts for performers who have the kind of repertoire that is uplifting and appropriate for diverse audiences, particularly for youth audiences. New to our roster: Mexican songstress Marisa Nordstrom, clown Bri Tree and hip-hop group Diverse Dialect have been big hits. Young adult and teen performers burgeoning with talent are getting involved, too: Caroline Sky, Emma Botti and Shelby Lanterman are musicians who we are sure to hear more about as their careers develop.


The volume of shows we produce is possible because of the help of our volunteer hosts. These cheerful folks bring and set up PA systems, see to the comfort of the performers and report about each show so that we can maintain the integrity of our programs. Last year they hosted 388 (or 63 percent) of our 617 shows. The benefits of hosting are many. Volunteer Katrina Strack from Marin Academy wrote that hosting taught her “the importance of empathy and gratitude.”

Volunteer and facility inquiries come through the application process on our website regularly. The need is there on both sides. Word-of-mouth is often how we get the high quality people who understand what Bread & Roses is all about. We appreciate referrals to those who want to spread the joy. To apply, click here.


1) Marisa Nordstom at Marin Learning Center in San Rafael Feb. 12, 2016. Photo by Peter Merts

2) Bri Tree Entertainment

Post by Carolyn Gauthier, Vice President of Programs

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Thank You For A Cornucopia of Shows in 2015

Thanks to all our supporters who help us present a cornucopia of Bread & Roses shows every year. It takes a tribe to fulfill our mission and we are especially grateful to our volunteer performers and hosts, the backbone of our organization.


What does a typical day of shows look like for Bread & Roses Presents? You might see 15-year-old Caroline Sky singing at a home for the developmentally disabled, Dirty Cello bringing rock and blues to adults in an addiction treatment facility, 70-year-old Si Perkoff playing boogie-woogie jazz piano in a convalescent home, The Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir singing gospel tunes to homeless families, Boswick the Clown performing for children, whose main languages are Spanish or Vietnamese, in a low-income daycare program, Aaron Kierbel leading a percussion workshop in a special needs school or Ian Dogole helping teens in rehab play instruments from around the world.

csky carolinesky

Who are the people that benefit from our services? You might meet someone like three-year-old Eduardo who spends his days in a Berkeley YMCA Head Start program, Maria who goes to an elementary after-school program at the North Bay Children’s Center. You might see teenagers like Jackson in San Mateo Juvenile Hall or Shayna in an alternative school/recovery center like Thunder Road in Oakland, or Andrew who attends The Phillips Academy in Alameda for students with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome.


You might meet the Bellen family, fallen on hard times and temporarily living in the ECOP Crossroads in Oakland. David, needing help with addiction and anger management and living at the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco. 82-year-old Margaret who has dementia, lives with her daughter and goes to Lifelong, a senior day center in Novato. Raymond who spends his last days, alone and isolated in the healthcare center, at Laguna Honda Hospital in SF. Ella who lives in the convalescent wing at the Veterans Home in Yountville. And they all love having visits and hearing live music.

webBR T Sisters

Who are the volunteers that make it all happen? They are performers who may be students, lawyers, professional working musicians and retired performers who share their talent with those who are isolated. (See the list of volunteer performers on our website.) They are hosts who find a few hours a month to give back to the community and help us emcee our shows. They are women and men who help at fundraising events and work in the office. We can always use more volunteer hosts in particular, so if you would like to join us, click here to apply.


Why do over 1,000 people in the Bay Area donate their time to volunteer at shows? Here’s what they say:

  • We believe in the healing power of music.
  • We know the importance of making human connections with the people who live in these facilities.
  • We love seeing the uplifting nature of live entertainment that brings joy to so many people.

Bread & Roses Presents couldn’t do the 600 plus shows a year for 31,000 isolated people throughout the Bay Area, if it weren’t for our wonderful, big-hearted volunteers. For more information go to our homepage and see how to Get Involved.


Photo Captions

1) 2015 Volunteer Host Dinner at the home of Tucky and John Pogue  (Photo by Peter Merts)

2) Caroline Sky at The Cedars of Marin (Photos by Marian Hubler)

3) Children in audience at BAHIA School in Berkeley (Photo by Peter Merts)

4) The T Sisters and band play for the residents of The Delancey Street Foundation in SF (Photo by Ken Friedman)

5) Silvia Herold and Chuck Ervin of the Silvertones at CEI Oakland (Photo by Peter Merts)

Post by Carolyn Gauthier, Vice President of Programs

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Bread & Roses Serves LGBT Senior Community at San Francisco's Openhouse

San Francisco is known throughout the world as a place where lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people can live openly. It has become a mecca for those with alternative lifestyles to find an accepting home. This population often becomes isolated as the next, younger generation of people move into the city.

Openhouse is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that provides housing, direct services and community programs for LGBT seniors living in the Bay Area. They have regular gatherings of the community where these seniors and their caregivers can socialize, network and support each other.

David-Facer-ParadoxBread & Roses has been providing Openhouse with free, live entertainment since 2011. Various facilities allow the group to come together for meals and a fun afternoon. This partnership has allowed hundreds of LGBT seniors to enjoy performers like Phillip Percy Williams, Paradox MagicLinwood Project Community Chorus, The Mad Maggies, Garden Party, Magic Jeanne and more. 

Fairley Parson, community program manager at Openhouse, recently summed up the benefits that Bread & Roses programs have on their clients. "As thousands of LGBT seniors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area struggle with poverty and isolation, Bread & Roses helps ensure that all seniors can enjoy top rate entertainment in a safe and welcoming space. With the help of Bread & Roses, LGBT seniors are strengthening their community through music. They are singing along to old favorites, dancing together and stomping their feet in joy. Your impact on the LGBT community cannot be overstated."

It is gratifying to see the excitement generated by the shows we bring to these gatherings.  Bread & Roses is honored to be serving this unique isolated group of people in our community. 


Post by Program Director Carolyn Gauthier 


Photo Caption: David Facer of Paradox Magic entertains at Bread & Roses benefit in 2013. Photo by Ken Friedman. 


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New Board Members Revitalize Bread & Roses

We are happy to announce that three new members are joining the Bread & Roses board of directors: Greg Beattie of Veritas Corporate Law; Catherine Less of Baker Street Advisors; and Stacy Nelson of Stacy Nelson & Associates LLC. We are thrilled to have such talented individuals join us.

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For almost twenty years, Greg Beattie of Lafayette, CA, along with his wife the talented vocalist Victoria Blythe, has been a volunteer performer with his band Calaveras. Their moving song Ready to Fly was inspired by a story they heard while playing for a senior convalescent audience for Bread & Roses. In addition to being a talented songwriter and musician, Greg has a law degree from Harvard and a B.A. from Stanford. He is the co-founder of his own boutique law firm, Veritas Corporate Law in Berkeley and San Francisco, CA.

Catherine Less of San Rafael, CA has been a committed Bread & Roses supporter and major donor since 1988 who has attended many benefits through the years. She has performed for Bread & Roses institutional audiences with the Lighthouse Singers and has a B.A. in Music from U.C. Berkeley. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), who currently works as Vice President of Baker Street Advisors, a comprehensive investment firm in San Francisco, CA.

Stacy Nelson,also of San Rafael, CA, is an executive recruiter and human resources consultant with her own company Stacy Nelson and Associates, LLC.  She has been a longtime supporter and champion of Bread & Roses with her husband (and prior board member) Mark Nelson, and son Aidan Nelson, a guitarist and volunteer performer. She was a key member of our 2014 Spring Benefit planning committee and has started a Youth Advisory Council for Bread & Roses at the Marin Academy. She has a degree from George Mason University in Washington. D.C., and is also a trustee at Saint Mark’s School.

Bread & Roses also wishes to acknowledge the hard work and committed service of outgoing board members Jim Callahan of Piedmont Piano Co., Patricia Dedekian of Calliope Consulting and Jocelyn Kane of the SF Entertainment Commission. Their many contributions helped to sustain our organization and they will be missed.


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Honoring Our Veterans: Music on Memorial Day at the Menlo Park VA

We all know someone who is a veteran – a family member, a friend, a relative of a colleague, a son or daughter of a neighbor. So many sacrifices have been made for our freedom.

As I drove down to Menlo Park on Memorial Day, I could not think of a more appropriate place to be than the Veterans Hospital. I thought about my grandfather Colonel Robert L. Hubler who served in the trenches of WWI and my Uncle Paul Carey who was a disabled Korean War veteran.

It was a beautiful outdoor setting at the brand new Welcome Center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. We had older veterans from the convalescent hospital at their Community Living Center along with veterans from their Homeless Veterans Rehabilitation Program, a Western Blind Rehabilitation Center, and First Steps of Recovery, a substance abuse treatment program. Some veterans had family members and/or caregivers in attendance as well. 


Our performers Nancy Colman & Friends did a well-received set with a variety of songs from vintage jazz to Spanish classics to The Byrds to Kate Wolf. Nancy plays guitar and sings with her husband Alex Reisman on stand-up bass. They invited another couple to perform their first Bread & Roses show with them adding backup guitar and vocal harmonies.

I noticed a gentleman smiling broadly during the entire concert. He was playing percussion during every song on the handlebars of his motorized wheelchair. He told me he was a Marine in Vietnam and a drummer.    

He said, “I know you are here to thank us for our service. But I want to thank you for the joy you brought us today through the music. I am going to be released next week to begin my life again on the outside. They tell us we should think about what we want to do to give back. I would like to start a drum circle here, one for the men, and an integrated one for men and women. Do you know of anyone who might be able to help?” I was touched by his response and said I would send him some referrals. 

On the night before, the National Memorial Day Concert on the mall in Washington DC was broadcast in the Bay Area on KQED. Amidst well-chosen songs, the producers did a masterful job of integrating film footage of veterans’ experiences during WWII, and the conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

They showed scenes of our troops landing on the beach at Normandy and included testimonials from some of the survivors. They showed casualties in Vietnam during the war and had our veterans speak of the challenges there. They followed GI’s on patrol in the high deserts of Afghanistan as they searched for insurgents. A vet with four prostheses spoke eloquently about the dangers of serving in the military and the lasting impact upon the troops. Most said they would go back to serve again if they had the chance for they were bonded forever with their fellow troops and cared so much about their mission.

What an honor it is to give back to those who care so much about defending the freedoms of every American.


Post & Photo by Marian Hubler


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Interactive Clown Workshop at Oakland's 24-Hour Childcare with Circus of Smiles

We are making a special effort to bring more interactive programs to audiences across the board, especially to children and youth. Many talented performers excel at putting music and stories together in an interactive way with magic, movement, puppets, juggling and other performance art. 

Thanks to storyteller Kirk Waller; children's musicians Beth CrespanMadeleine KingGary LapowSpike SikesMiss KittyJoni de Gabriele; magicians Dan RaspyniDavid Facer, Frank Olivier; and so many others who are contributing to this effort. 

Recent efforts include a wonderful clown workshop with much audience participation by Circus of Smiles at 24-Hour Childcare in Oakland


Host Barb Withers reports: “At first, the 30 young children quietly sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor with anticipation in front of the two clowns - Paula Greenspan and Tyler Parks - who are known as Circus of Smiles.

They began their show with a hysterical juggling act with Tyler wearing a fake mustache. He and Paula tried to "wake" each other up, each time unsuccessful, and were met with peals of laughter from the children. Tyler noted while juggling that it was tickling his mustache and the kids giggled along. Juggling, tumbling and physical comedy reigned in the room, much to the delight of the children and their teachers. Giggling, bashful volunteers loved being part of the act and many eager hands shot up when the call for volunteers went out.

The show was a seamless fest of smiles and at the end Circus of Smiles admonished all the kids to "give yourselves a pat on the back." They gave each other pats on the back that cause the kids to dissolve into further laughter. The show caused 30 kids to stop for 45 minutes and just enjoy being light-hearted. Circus of Smiles provided the best medicine for all of us attending this fun show!”

The children at this daycare center for low-income families in Oakland would not have access to this kind of positive interaction without the generosity of Bread & Roses volunteers and supporters.  Your donations and performer referrals (for interactive performers in particular) are needed to sustain our program.  Get more info and fill out a volunteer application here.

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Spectacular 40th Anniversary Benefit A Great Success

 Bread & Roses hosted a sold-out and spectacularly successful 40th Anniversary fundraising event on Saturday March 1, 2014 at the Marin Center and Showcase Theatre.Transformed with twinkling lights and a stunning red and black décor, The Exhibit Hall was a fitting venue for the 280 guests who came to celebrate our legacy of four decades of live music for our neighbors in need who are isolated in the Bay Area.

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Noah Griffin and Phillip Percy Williams Present Black History Month Programs

Bread & Roses is often asked by the facilities we serve for special programs to help celebrate the landmark events of each season. In February of this year, Noah Griffin and Phillip Percy Williams (with Si Perkoff on piano) presented outstanding programs on behalf of Bread & Roses for Black History Month at the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron, CA and at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae.

Noah_GriffinNoah Griffin, a vocalist and recent founder of The Cole Porter Society, is also a historian who has a wealth of knowledge about black people who are important to history in the United States. On February 15, 2014, he captivated his audience of a hundred teen-age boys by starting out with stories about some of the well-known and inspirational athletes like Jackie Robinson in baseball and Arthur Ashe in tennis. 

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Farewell to Long-time Performers John chase Lewis and Phyllis Marcus

We are continually reminded of all the performers who have done shows for Bread & Roses through the decades, especially those who are no longer with us.


Like piano and bass player the late John Chase Lewis who did hundreds of Bread & Roses shows for seniors and cheerfully accompanied many different vocalists through the years. John loved the joy of collaboration with other artists as well and played with many musicians for Bread & Roses including vocalists Joan Getz, Daria and Kat Fitzgerald, violinist Yehudit, jazz pianist Si Perkoff and the late Dr. Bill Pemberton and James Jenkins.

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40th Anniversary Benefit To Sustain Bread & Roses Into the Future



Bread & Roses 40th Anniversary Benefit Celebration & Concert will be held on Saturday March 1st at the Marin Center Exhibit Hall and intimate Showcase Theatre in San Rafael at 5:30 pm.  This annual fundraising event, an important part of sustaining our program into the future,  will feature a once-in-a-lifetime concert with "Explorer of the Musical Universe" Bobby McFerrin backed by members of The Yellowjackets and the imaginative a cappella ensemble SoVoSó.

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New Performers Move Bread & Roses Forward Through Forty Years of Shows

sofiHow do we keep it real, fresh and upbeat? Through the generosity of a new wave of emerging artists who are joining the hundreds of volunteers who are the backbone of our program and who have been a huge boost for our youth audiences in particular.

It’s hard to imagine that forty years have gone by since 1974 when our founder Mimi Fariña gathered a handful of musician friends to start bringing music to those isolated in nearby institutions, and Bread & Roses was born.

Together each year we bring hope, healing and joy through live music to isolated audiences through 600 annual shows in 125 facilities.Over 1200 volunteer performers showcase their talents each year for children, adults and seniors in the Bay Area who need music most.

Performers like Sofi Rox (pictured above), an open-hearted singer-songwriter who brings joy across the board to children in low-income preschools and seniors in convalescent facilities through her charming original songs about nature and her sweet ukulele playing.

sal_and_dadOr Salvador Santana, with keyboard in hand, who shares his journey as a professional musician and whose original songs inspire troubled teens “to navigate the infinite options of music” giving them hope and the chance to imagine a brighter future for themselves.

elsieOr Elsie White, a rootsy folk singer with classically trained full-bodied vocals whose buoyant voice and authentic original songs help teens in juvenile detention see, through poignant lyrics and expression of raw emotion, that there might be another way to heal.

junior-toots-respect50Or Junior Toots, who is also committed to positivity with his conscious up-tempo roots reggae and ska as he inspires youth in alternative schools with the power of affirmation for self and planet.

gemmaOr Gemma Bulos, a Filipina-American musician and teacher, who is a great example of a positive role model as a social entrepreneur, singer and storyteller who performs in jails and rehabs for teens prompting her audiences to realize that creative expression can enhance self esteem.

davidmillermagicianOr David Miller, who enchants all ages -- from children in special needs schools to seniors in convalescent facilities -- with his message that “impossible is not a word” in his interactive magic shows that give all the experience of how to collectively be in an audience and have the thrill of an opportunity to participate.

We are grateful for the new performers who are helping us with our ongoing program keep Mimi’s flame alive.We know from the stories of people, both young and old, in our facility audiences that our shows are remembered and have an impact.


Post by Marian Hubler

Graphic Design by Lauren Arrow

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Bobby McFerrin's Joyous Improvisational Singing To Highlight Upcoming Benefit


bobby_mcI think we listen to music because we want to be changed. Music is not solely for our entertainment. Music has such tremendous power to bring joy. To me, that’s our job as artists. Not happiness, not a groove, whatever. You must bring joy. I think that’s the assignment. I have no doubt about it.”Bobby McFerrin

Bread & Roses is honored to present Bobby McFerrin as our headliner at our 40th Anniversary Benefit concert on March 1. His understanding of music's power to bring joy is in perfect alignment with our mission of bringing hope, healing and joy to those who need music most.

As a solo artist, Bobby developed Circlesongs, an innovative improvisational choral singing experience that he refined through the years with his vocal ensemble Voicestra. As he toured all over the world, he found that group singing not only made beautiful music but cultivated a deep sense of community and joy.

According to the Omega Institute in New York, where Bobby will lead an upcoming Circlesongs workshop with Bread & Roses volunteer performers Rhiannon and David Worm from SoVoSó; “What Bobby McFerrin does is a spontaneous invention, celebration and prayer. The New York Times credits him with sparking the current revival of a cappella music. The beat-boxing community claims him as an inspiration, the jazz community claims him as a legend and the classical world celebrates his innovative spirit. “

His latest adventure, spirityouall, is a re-imagination of the American folk spiritual tradition. Through it all, his mission is simply this: to invite us all to experience the joy and freedom he feels when he sings.

We invite you to help us celebrate 40 years of bringing the joy of live music to those in the Bay Area who are isolated. Our 40th Anniversary Benefit & Concert at the Marin Center Exhibit Hall and intimate Showcase Theatre gives you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join perpetual explorer Bobby McFerrin and his team of inspiring musicians including his children Taylor and Madison McFerrin and The Yellowjackets. Opening this joyous community musical experience will be the imaginative a capella ensemble SoVoSó.

With your help, we can move Bread & Roses forward and sustain our mission far into the future. 

"Improvisation involves coming into a situation without rigid expectations or preconceptions. We must keep going forward, fearful or not, and be ready for anything that comes our way. That’s how life is. Remembering that life can be full of surprises is always useful. We’re improvising all the time—it’s good to recognize that."Bobby McFerrin

Click here for more information on our 40th anniversary event.


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Remembering Pete Seeger, True Friend to Bread & Roses


Pete Seeger, beloved singer, songwriter and activist, was an inspiration in the way he performed folk music to support the causes in which he deeply believed. A true friend to Bread & Roses, he performed with his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger at Bread & Roses 25th Anniversary Benefit with Mimi Fariña at the SF Opera House in 2000.

Again in 2009 at the age of 90, he played banjo and sang at a Bread & Roses institutional show with Tao at The Redwoods, a community for seniors in Mill Valley.  Co-sponsored by the Seniors for Peace, an activist group in residence there, Pete and Tao's hour-long set featured several sing-alongs that captivated the enthusiastic audience of 250 people. For a close-up look at that memorable concert, see Jim Weltes article from the Marin Independent Journal, Sept. 14, 2009

Coincidentally, singer/activist Ronnie Gilbert, who sang with Pete Seeger in the Weavers from 1949 to 1951, is now a resident at The Redwoods.

 Following his passing, The IJ also ran a story "Pete Seeger Touched Marin along With the Rest of the World" that mentions his participation with Bread & Roses and quotes Bread & Roses Executive Director Cassandra Flipper.   

We are thankful for all of Pete's masterful work as a folk musician and songwriter, and for his support for so many important causes through the playing of folk music and his work as an activist for the better part of a century. We will never forget him and all his poignant songs, like the anti-war standard Where Have All the Flowers Gone? which was also the title of his 1993 autobiography.

As we remember him today, we think of the beautiful musical setting of the song he created from the passage in the Book of Ecclesiastes that became a number one hit for The Byrds in 1965 Turn, Turn, Turn.  Bread & Roses celebrates its 40th anniversary this year (1974-2014). Our Bread & Roses Founder Mimi Fariña and her sister Joan Baez were inspired by Pete's stellar example to be both musicians and activists. His enduring song lyrics give us strength to continue our mission of bringing hope and healing through live music to those who need it most.


To everything turn, turn, turn, & a time to every purpose under heaven...

Blog by Marian Hubler

Bread & Roses Video Edited by Lauren Arrow with photos by Andrew de Lory and Ken Friedman,

Courtesy of Bread & Roses

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Kudos to Nominees Jim Kennedy & Mark Hummel for 21st Annual Heart of Marin Awards!


Kudos to Bread & Roses Board Chair Jim Kennedy and Volunteer Performer Mark Hummel for being this year's Bread & Roses nominees for the 21st Annual Heart of Marin Awards.

Jim was nominated by Executive Director Cassandra Flipper for Excellence in Board Leadership and Mark was nominated by Program Director Carolyn Gauthier for Volunteer of the Year.



Nominee Jim Kennedy 

Cassandra Flipper noted that during the past year Jim Kennedy, chair of the Bread & Roses Board of Directors, has gone above and beyond the call of duty in numerous ways.Despite his responsibilities as a senior executive at the Bank of the West, he attended a three-day conference with Cassandra to explore the process of change in the nonprofit sector.Together they learned about initiatives undertaken by other nonprofit organizations in an attempt to begin thinking about other approaches to our mission. After the conference Jim led the board and senior staff in a six-month process of strategic thinking.

Since 2005, Jim has been instrumental in obtaining grants, sponsorships and matching gifts for Bread & Roses from the Bank of the West. He has served on the board since 2009 and as board chair for the last two years. This year has been a banner year in terms of Jim’s personal giving (through generous Appeal and Live Auction donations), setting an example for other board members, and for the funds he has raised from the Bank to sponsor both the Spring and Fall benefit events.

He also nominated Bread & Roses for the Bank’s 4th annual Philanthropy Awards. Of the 300+ nominees from the Bank’s 19-state service area, B&R was one of three finalists in the Community Impact category winning a grant of $10,000. We were also presented with a well-crafted two-minute professionally produced video underwritten by the Bank. Click here to see the video

Jim consistently demonstrates his collaborative spirit by his outstanding communication with staff and other board members to explore new ideas and express concerns. He always accentuates the positiveeven when he is urging change and critical thinking. He shows up at meetings and at special events. He attends our regular institutional shows from time to time to stay in touch with our fundamental work for hidden audiences. He is also a devoted participant at our annual volunteer appreciation event where he engages our performers in discussions about their work for Bread & Roses and their personal artistic pursuits.  Last but not least, he effectively engages our donors at fundraising events.

Nominee Mark Hummel

In her nomination for renowned harmonica player Mark Hummel as Volunteer of the Year, Carolyn Gauthier notes that he is a dedicated professional musician who has chosen to give back to the community through his work with Bread & Roses. Through his generosity many people have been inspired and uplifted.

His talent and his connections in the world of "The Blues" run deep. As a harmonica ace, Mark has been in bands with many of the best musicians in the country including Boz Scaggs, John Mayall, Huey Lewis, James Cotton, John Hammond, Charlie Musselwhite and more. Not only does he share his time and talent with Bread & Roses, he also brings in many other fantastic musicians to be part of our volunteer cadre.

Bread & Roses presents 600 free performances a year to those who are isolated from society and often do not have access to live entertainment. These shows are made possible by the gifts of volunteers who believe that the power of music should be accessible to all. Over 29,000 of our neighbors in need receive hope and healing through live music annually in 124 facilities in the Bay Area. The volunteer performers are very special, big-hearted people who generously share their gifts.

Mark Hummel has been sharing his talents with institutionalized audiences for five years. He and his friends perform on a regular basis in many different facilities that are served by Bread & Roses including adult rehabilitation centers, senior day cares and convalescent homes, homeless shelters and facilities for the developmentally disabled. The Blues is a genre of music that is felt deeply and appreciated by a wide variety of people transcending  age, gender and ethnic differences. Whether it is Memphis, Mississippi Delta or Chicago style, the Blues are easily recognized as a true American art form.  Many of the people that Bread & Roses serve are of ethnic minority, do not have English as their first language and/or have experienced hard times. This music is a great equalizer which brings joy, comfort and big smiles to those from varied cultural backgrounds.

In addition to performing for hundreds of isolated individuals this year, Mark Hummel presented a workshop in San Quentin for inmates wanting to learn how to play the harp. He was able to get a donation of 20 new harmonicas from the manufacturer so that each of the men was able to keep the instrument and practice. The impact this made was immense, as the men are still playing, learning and enjoying these instruments.

Mark is an asset in so many ways. In October he put together an amazing lineup of musicians to perform at a benefit concert for Bread & Roses to raise funds for ongoing programs. Supporters bought tickets to hear Bay Area legends Ron Thompson and Nick Gravenites along with other blues musicians. Many new supporters were also introduced to the work and mission of Bread & Roses. He has consistently played at a variety of benefits through the years.

Mark is also a wonderful spokesperson for the organization in the media and beyond. This fall he agreed to let one of his institutional shows be filmed by Bank of the West (see link above).  In his video testimonial, he speaks of how the healing power of music helped in his own recovery from substance abuse. His openness in articulating his personal journey was especially poignant as he shared his story with others in rehab.  From all the ways Mark Hummel has supported Bread & Roses, we were proud to nominate him for the Volunteer of the Year Award at the Heart of Marin. He is a great example of the way that all of our volunteer performers are winners every day as they perform for institutional audiences where people need music most.

Contributed By Cassandra Flipper for Jim Kennedy and Carolyn Gauthier for Mark Hummel.

Photo composit by Lauren Arrow.

Left side: Jim Kennedy at Bread & Roses Spring Benefit, 2013. Photo by Ken Friedman, Courtesy of Bread & Roses.

Right side: Mark Hummel. Photo Courtesy of 2014

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Teens Respond to Michael Pritchard's Message of Hope at Contra Costa Juvenile


Bread & Roses is fortunate that Michael Pritchard is not only our Ambassador-At-Large but has been an ambassador of hope for many of our institutional audiences through the years. A gifted motivational speaker, Michael brings all of his life experiences to every program in a way that is immediate, compelling, humorous and life-affirming for those who most need to hear his message of the importance of having self esteem and caring about others.

Following a recent program for teens at Mt. McKinley School at Contra Costa Juvenile Hall in Martinez, teacher Ray Booker told Michael "It really makes a difference when you visit. You colorfully put into words and sounds many of the random and not-so-random thoughts they get but haven't found a way to express yet."

The boys who were present for Michael's program that day wrote poignant thank you letters afterwards describing what his visit meant to them. Here are some of the things they shared:

Not that many people come out here to try to open up our eyes before it is too late and I thank you and respect you for that.

Thank you for coming to talk to us about our choices and how there are a lot of people in our lives that love us. What really hit home with me was when you said most inmates have regret that they didn't spend much time with their family members. I agree and wish I could be home with my daughter.

I appreciated you giving us the insight of how one violent act can cause a chain reaction in our own community.  I dream of a career in music because I love to play instruments. I agree that the thing that makes you most happy is compassion.  I feel privileged to tell you that you did make an impact on me and I thank you for that.

You gave a good message about violence. I am in here for a violent charge.  I made a huge mistake but I am willing to change.  I learned that I was hurting and I decided to take my anger out on a persecutor.  I believe the message about hurt causing anger. "Hate is as strong as the Berlin wall."  I believe if we are determined to tear down hate that we can.

I wonder and dream about becoming successful and you are the best role model towards that goal because you love what you do and your job. I only want to be the happy little guy that I was when I was younger but now that I'm 18, I realize that life gets real. It was an honor to meet a man like you.  I wish I had your guidance anytime it was needed because for a moment there you had me in that happiness.

I really liked your quote "don't over-stand people, but understand people."  Usually people are too worried about maintaining an image in front of their peers, so they belittle people who are different from them.  You gave me a whole new perspective on the way I look at people.

I admire how positive you are and what you said "Team work makes the dream work." I realize the situation I am in is a "minor setback for a major comeback."  You inspired me to be more positive because I have anger problems. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me and to everyone around the world.

I loved how you said that one day the people that are bullied will be the ones helping you in the end.  I myself have been bullied all my life and ironically enough, I have the dream to be a paramedic.  You had a lot of great things to say that are forever burned in my mind and I will pass on the word like you have.


Michael Pritchard visited the Bread & Roses office on his way to Contra Costa Juvenile. We need more positive and inspirational performers for our youth audiences in particular. Let us know if you can help or provide any referrals. Thank you so much!  

Photo Credits:

Top: Michael Pritchard at Bread & Roses Spring Benefit. Photo by Ken Friedman, Courtesy of Bread & Roses. 2013

Bottom: Michael Pritchard with Bread & Roses staff ( left to right):Marian Hubler (Producer), Cassandra Flipper (Executive Director), Michael Pritchard (Volunteer Performer), Janet Lewis (Financial Coordinator) and Susan Gordon (Development Director). Photo by Lauren Arrow, Courtesy of Bread & Roses. 2014

Blog Post Contributed by Marian Hubler


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Marco Benevento & The Novelists 12/1 Chapel Benefit A Smashing Success


Pianist/song-writer and sound-sculptor extraordinaire Marco Benevento and special guests Reed Mathis and Cochrane McMillan from Tea Leaf Green performed an outstanding concert to benefit Bread & Roses on Sunday December 1 at The Chapel, a stylish new music and restaurant venue on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District.

The concert was a unique opportunity to hear Marco play -- in collaboration with Reed and Cochrane -- an inspired set of exuberant music with soaring instrumental melodies. A true highlight of the evening came when Marco invited any member of the audience to join him onstage in exchange for donating a dollar or two to Bread & Roses and piano teacher Holly Bowling responded.  A fan of Marco's for a long time, she came to the concert on her own and played Heart and Soul with him when she first sat down at the piano. The audience went wild when she then began to play with finesse a duet with him on his original song Atari. Click here to read the article "One Fan's Experience Sitting in with Marco Benevento" to hear what it was like first-hand. 



Opening the high energy evening was the acoustic pop ensemble The Novelists featuring Megan Slankard. A Bread & Roses institutional performer since she was 14 years-old, Megan sang a number of her original songs including Planets, Give Life and A Token of the Wreckage. The concert turned out to be nostalgic for The Novelists as Megan has since announced that she will be leaving the band and continuing her solo career.

Thanks to Jack Knowles, owner of The Chapel, as well as Bread & Roses board members Patricia Dedekian, Paul Kirincic and Darlene Bearde for combining forces to produce a successful event that attracted over 200 music-lovers, many of whom were introduced to Bread & Roses for the first time. Patricia brought her considerable expertise as a management consultant at The Chapel, along with the assistance of the capable staff at the club.  Paul enthusiastically recruited Marco Benevento who happens to be his son-in-law. Darlene helped with promotion and her husband, jazz vocalist Nicolas Bearde was emcee. Talented DJ Britt Govea set a fun tone.

Our team members assembled many exciting raffle prizes including gift certificates to restaurants in the Mission and tickets to some of the best music venues in town. Anchor Steam Brewery donated beer for the evening, which got the concert off to a festive start. We appreciate the many sponsors and individuals who helped make the evening a success.

A shout out also to Peter Finch from KGO Radio for his help with promotion ahead of time and for his excellent podcast about The Chapel benefit including interviews with Marco Benevento, Megan Slankard and Pat Dedekian. Thanks also to Sterling Munksgard Photography for the great photos of the concert!


Photo/Video Credits:

1: Marco Benevento at The Chapel in San Francisco. Photo Courtesy of Sterling Munksgard Photography, 2013.

2: Megan Slankard at New Bridge Foundation. Photo by Peter Merts, Courtesy of Bread & Roses, 2005

3: Holly Bowling and Marco Benevento at The Chapel in San Francisco. Video Courtesy of Facebook "Surrender to the Flow" and Holly Bowling, 2013.

4: Marco Benevento, Reed Mathis and Cochrane McMillan at The Chapel in San Francisco. Photo Courtesy of Sterling Munksgard Photography, 2013.

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Hard Rock Blues Brunch for Bread & Roses and Everybody Is A Star

Bread & Roses hosted a fun Blues Brunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (SF) on Sunday October 27th with Everybody Is A Star. All who were there enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet and soul-satisfying, live music. With world-class harmonica player Mark Hummel's Blues Blowout, special guests Nick Gravenites and Ron Thompson thrilled all with their spirited blues playing.  Performances were also given by  Loren Moale, Eva Sapper and Jeannette Denny from Everybody is a Star.

Thanks so much to Bob Boemer at the Hard Rock Cafe on Pier 39 for donating the use of his stylish venue dedicated to the celebration of Rock & Roll to support two extraordinary organizations that share a belief in the power of music to transform lives and lift the human spirit.

We also appreciated the support of Howard Sapper and his volunteers who helped organize a raffle. Hats off to former board member Mary Doan who helped Bread & Roses kickoff the concept of this special collaboration.

Bread & Roses board members attending included Jim Callahan and Tom Silk, and former board member Toby Nady.   All guests and supporters had a great time at this special kind of Sunday service.   Photo courtesy of Kevin Comora, 2013. Pictured: Loren and Eva from Everybody Is A Star.

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