MetroFocus: June 10, 2021

When you think of Suffolk County on the eastern tip of Long Island chances are you think of images such as wind-swept beaches and quaint little towns and villages, lovely homes, even vineyards. But there is a dark and troubling history to that area known by very few. In Hampton, people lived and worked in situations similar to oppressive and brutal prison environments. Thousands of workers lured by promises of good wages and decent housing were often cheated out of pay and housed in deadly slum-like conditions. And in the second half of the 20th century that area was home to more than 100 migrant labor camps. Tonight, attorney and author Mark Torres joins us to discuss his new book “Long Island Migrant Labor Camps: Dust for Blood” and the history of the farm labor camps that once could be found in great numbers across eastern Long Island.

They say that music can heal the soul. And there’s a group right here in New York that’s trying to do just that. Concerts In Motion is a non-profit organization bringing live music to socially isolated people throughout New York City, Long Island and Westchester. They used to perform live and in person but have adapted as we all have over the course of the pandemic- to operating virtually. Tonight, Concerts In Motion founder and Executive Director Jennifer Finn discusses their wonderful work.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB ♪

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

WHEN YOU THINK OF SUFFOLK COUNTY ON THE EASTERN TIP OF LONG ISLAND, CHANCES ARE YOU THINK OF IMAGES SUCH AS WIND SWEPT BEACHES AND QUAINT TOWNS AND VILLAGES, LOVELY HOMES, EVEN VINEYARDS.

BUT THERE IS A DARK AND TROUBLING HISTORY TO THAT AREA KNOWN BY VERY FEW.

THAT'S BECAUSE IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 20th CENTURY THAT AREA WAS HOME TO MORE THAN 100 MIGRANT LABOR CAMPS, CAMPS IN WHICH PEOPLE LIVED AND WORKED IN SITUATIONS THAT WERE SIMILAR TO OPPRESSIVE AND BRUTAL PRISON ENVIRONMENTS.

BUT VERY FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THAT TODAY.

WELL, THERE'S A NEW BOOK OUT 'LONG ISLAND, MIGRANT LABOR CAT CAMPS, DUST FOR BLOOD.'

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE THE AUTHOR JOINING US.

NOTED AUTHOR AND LAWYER MARK TORRES.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THIS LONG LOST STORY OF THESE VERY DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENTS ON THIS BEAUTIFUL AREA OF LONG ISLAND.

I'M FAMILIAR TOO WITH THE BUCOLIC COUNTRYSIDE.

MY FAMILY VACATIONS THERE FOR PROBABLY THE LAST 20 YEARS.

AN AVID HISTORY BUFF, I'M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MORE HISTORY.

I LEARNED ABOUT THE CAMPS IN 2015 AND INCORPORATED IT INTO MY FIRST FICTIONAL NOVEL, BUT I ALWAYS KNEW I WANTED TO COME BACK TO IT.

I CAME BACK TO IT TO FIND A VERY TROUBLING HISTORY.

I MENTIONED MORE THAN 100, BUT GIVE US A SENSE OF THE SCOPE OF THIS SITUATION, THE NUMBER OF THESE CAMPS, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED AND WORKS IN THESE CAMPS DURING THAT HALF CENTURY.

INITIALLY THE FIRST CAMP WAS OPENED IN A SMALL HAMLET.

THERE WERE FOUR CAMPS AT THE TIME.

THEY WERE U.S. GOVERNMENT SPONSORED CAMPS.

BY 1951 THERE WERE 28 REGISTERED LABOR CAMPS.

BY 1958, IT BALLOONED TO 134 REGISTERED CAMPS IN THE COUNTY.

THIS IS JUST SUFFOLK COUNTY.

THERE WERE LIKELY MANY UNREGISTERED CAMPS AS WELL.

I SUSPECT PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, WHY WAS THERE SUCH A NEED FOR LABOR CAMPS IN THAT AREA OF LONG ISLAN ISLAND.

TELL ME THE HISTORY OF WHAT WAS GOING ON THERE IN TERMS OF FARMING THAT LENT ITSELF TO THIS NEED, THIS EXTRAORDINARY NEED FOR LABOR.

SURE.

THOSE FAMILIAR WITH THE AREA NOW RECOGNIZE THE VINEYARDS.

BEAUTIFUL COUNTRYSIDE.

PRIOR TO THAT, IT WAS A LOT OF MOSTLY POTATO FARMING AND CAULIFLOWER, STRING BEANS AND OHR OTHER FOODS.

EASTERN EUROPEANS BROUGHT THE SKILLS OF GROWING THOSE CROPS AND IT TOOK OFF FROM THERE.

AROUND 1950 OR SO, HOW MUCH POTATO FARMING WAS TAKING PLACE IN THAT AREA?

BY 1949 THE COUNTY PRODUCED BETWEEN 14 MILLION AND 18 MILLION BUSH ELS OF POTATOES.

AT ONE POINT IT WAS NUMBER ONE IN THE NATION IN PRODUCING POTATOES.

AN ALARMING AMOUNT FOR SUCH A SMALL GEOGRAPHICAL AREA.

YOU TALK IN YOUR BOOK ABOUT THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON THE LABOR SHORTAGE.

DESCRIBE THAT FOR US.

WELL, SUFFOLK COUNTY SPECIFICALLY HAD A SHORTAGE OF APPROXIMATELY 2700 FARM LABORERS.

THE COUNTY AND AGRICULTURE BOARD TRIED EVERYTHING THEY COULD.

THEY HAD GERMAN POWs, BOY SCOUTS, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, CHINESE-AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS FROM NEW YORK CITY.

ALL OF IT WAS A BANDAID BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T FIND A FIX.

GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, I DIDN'T REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A PRISONER OF WAR CAMP AROUND AND THE FACT THAT THEY ACTUALLY WERE UTILIZING THEM TO DO SOME OF THIS WORK.

THEY WERE PAID FOR FAIR WAGE OF THE TIME, 55 CENTS OR 60 CENTS PER HOUR.

BUT I'M SURE IT WASN'T OPTIMAL CONDITIONS.

THE RECORDS ARE NOT CLEAR WHETHER THESE WORKERS HAD A CHOICE.

THEY WERE CERTAINLY COMPENSATED FOR WORKING THERE.

I MENTIONED HOW THIS STORY IS SO LITTLE KNOWN.

I THINK IT TIES INTO MY NEXT QUESTION, WHICH IS WAS THERE A LOT OF AVAILABLE RESEARCH FOR YOU TO TRY TO DISCOVER THE CONTOURS OF THIS STORY?

THERE WERE NO PRIMARY SOURCES.

THAT REALLY WAS DISTRESSING.

NOTHING ON THIS TOPIC.

I HAD TO RELY HEAVILY UPON JOURNALISM.

I REVIEWED OVER 300 NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, DOCUMENTARIES AS WELL AS INTERVIEWS FROM LOCAL PEOPLE AND LOVED ONES FAMILIAR WITH THE SYSTEM.

THAT REALLY FORMED OUT MY RESEARCH ALONG WITH AN INFORMATION REQUEST WITH THE SUFFOLK COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, WHICH YIELDED 1,000 PAGES OF DOCUMENTS.

WE TALKED ABOUT THE BAND-AID APPROACH THAT WAS BEING USED, PRISONERS OF WAR, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, BOY SCOUTS.

TALK ABOUT THE BURST NOW IN THE EVOLUTION OF THESE LABOR CAMPS.

NEW YORK STATE RECOGNIZED THE NEED TO ACCOMMODATE THE THOUSANDS OF LABORERS EXPECTED TO ENTER EACH YEAR.

THERE WAS ONE COUNTY IN UPSTATE NEW YORK AND SUFFOLK COUNTY DESIGNATED TO FIRST USE MOBILE LABOR CAMPS.

THEY WERE DEFINED THAT BUT THEY WERE HARDLY MOBILE.

THEY WERE FIXED.

THEY WERE SET IN THESE LOCATIONS AND THEY ALL GENERALLY REPORTED TERRIBLE CONDITIONS.

TALK ABOUT THOSE CONDITIONS.

THERE ARE PHOTOS IN YOUR BOOK THAT SHOWS SOME OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES, SOME OF WHAT'S LEFT OF THESE AREAS.

DESCRIBE FOR US THE NOTION OF WHAT THESE CAMPS LOOKED LIKE, WHAT THEY FELT LIKE, WHAT THE WORKING CONDITIONS WERE FOR THE LABORERS.

SURE.

REALIZING THERE ARE NO CAMPS SAVE MAYBE ONE OR TWO REMAINING STRUCTURES, I WANTED TO PAINT THE PICTURE WHAT THESE CAMPS WERE LIKE NOT ONLY IN PHYSICAL APPEARANCE BUT THE EFFECTS ON THE WORKERS.

THEY WERE ALWAYS RUN DOWN, ISOLATED CONDITIONS, NO TELEPHONES, LITTLE RECREATION, YOU KNOW, DRIVEN BY CREW LEADERS OR CAMP OPERATORS WHO WERE HARD-NOSED CHARACTERS WHO ALWAYS WERE PUNITIVE AND EXPLOITING THE WORKERS.

THE CAMPS WERE DANGEROUS.

IT NATURALLY LED TO HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS, CRIME AND VIOLENCE AND ULTIMATELY MANY DEATHS.

TELL ME IF I'M WRONG ABOUT THIS, BUT LOOKING AT WHAT WE MENTIONED, THE USE OF GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, WHO AS YOU SAID WERE PAID SOME SORT OF A WAGE, FAIR PERHAPS FOR THE TIME, BUT COMPARING THAT TO THESE MIGRANT WORKERS AND WHAT THEY WERE PAID.

TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT.

YEAH.

THE THING WAS MANY OF THEM WERE LURED BY FALSE PROMISES OR IN SOME CASES TAKEN BY FORCE, A TERM KNOWN AS SHANGHAIED.

THEY WERE TOLD THEY WERE GOING TO EARN A CERTAIN AMOUNT PER WEEK.

PAYDAY WAS SATURDAY NIGHT.

EVERY TIME THEY GOT THEIR MONEY, IT WAS FAR LESS THAN WHAT IT WAS.

EVERYTHING WAS DEDUCTED FROM THE PAY FOR THE WORKERS, TRAVEL EXPENSES, RENT OF STAYING AT THE CAMPS, FOOD, DRINK AND ALWAYS AT HIGH MARKUPS AND TYPICALLY CHARGED ON CREDIT, WHICH WAS EVEN HIGHER MARKUPS.

A BOTTLE OF TWISTER WINE COST 61 CENTS AT THE STORE.

AT THE CAMP IT WOULD BE $1 CASH OR $1.25 ON CREDIT.

THAT WAS THE KIND OF RUTHLESS EXPLOITATION THAT LED THE WORKERS TO A CYCLE OF PERPETUAL DEBT.

TALK ABOUT THE WEEKLY WAKE OF BEING $47.

FROM THAT WAS DEDUCTED MORE THAN $40 FOR PAYING TO GO BACK AND FORTH TO YOUR JOB, PAYING FOR YOUR ROOM AND BOARD, IF YOU WILL.

WAS THAT FAIRLY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SITUATION?

YES.

IN FACT, THERE WAS ONE WOMAN WHO COMPLAINED IN RIVERHEAD THAT SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES WERE TAKEN FROM HER CHECK AND SHE DID NOT HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OR CARD.

MANY FEES WERE HIDDEN.

YOU KNOW, LOOSE FEES AND DEPENDING ON THE CAMP OPERATOR, THEY JUST KIND OF MOVED AS THEY WENT ALONG AT THEIR WILL AND THE WORKERS HAD LITTLE CHOICE TO OBJECT.

YOU SAY LITTLE CHOICE TO OBJECT.

WERE THERE ANY PROTECTIONS IN PLACE FOR WORKERS?

WE KNOW ABOUT THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT IN THE '30s.

PEOPLE SAY THAT DID PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR SOME WORKERS.

WHAT ABOUT THESE MIGRANT WORKERS?

SADLY, THESE WORKERS BOTH THEN AND NOW ARE SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED FROM THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT.

THEY HAD TO RELY ON STATE LABOR LAWS.

NEW YORK DID NOT EXACT ONE UNTIL 2019.

IT WAS REALLY AT THE WHIM OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, THE OVERSEEING BODY FOR WAGES, THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SUFFOLK COUNTY WHICH IS THE OVERSEEING GOVERNMENT AGENCY OF THE CONDITIONS AT THE CAMPS, BUT THEY WERE SPREAD FAR AND THIN.

CAMP LEADERS KNEW THEY WERE COMING AND WOULD CLEAN UP THE CAMP UNTIL INSPECTION WAS COMPLETED AND THEN IT WOULD ALWAYS FALL BACK INTO DISREPAIR AND REMAIN THAT WAY.

THESE WORKERS WERE LEFT TO THE WHIMS OF THE PEOPLE RUNNING THESE CAMPS?

YES.

PRIOR TO 1965 IF THEY WERE INJURED -- THERE WAS MANY CASES OF A LOST LIMB OR FINGER OR TOE.

THEY WERE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION.

THEY WOULD HAVE TO SUE IN COURT BECAUSE THEY WERE OUT OF STATE CITIZENS.

THAT WAS NOT FEASIBLE OR LIKELY TO HAPPEN.

IT WAS ALWAYS A STRUGGLE.

THERE WERE SOME AGENCIES AND NONPROFIT GROUPS THAT HELPED LONG ISLAND VOLUNTEERS WAS FOUNDED BY MARY CHASE STONE, A WEALTHY WOMAN FROM NEW ENGLAND.

SHE FORMED A NONPROFIT TO HELP CHALLENGE THESE EXAMPLES OF CONSTANT ABUSE AND THEFT OF WAGES AT LOCAL AGENCIES INCLUDING THE DEPARTMENT OF LA LABOR.

OVERWHELMINGLY IT WAS A VICIOUS CYCLE OF EXPLOITATION THAT WENT UNCHECKED.

THERE'S A QUOTE IN THE BOOK.

I'M WONDERING IF THIS SEEMS TO CAPTURE THE PERVERSITY OF THIS SYSTEM AND THE BRUTALITY OF THE SYSTEM.

SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT OF, WE USED TO OWN SLAVES, NOW WE RENT THEM HERE.

THAT CAME FROM THE 1960 DOC DOCUMENTARY 'HARVEST OF SHAME.'

EDWARD R MURROW PRODUCED THAT.

THAT DID TALK ABOUT ONE OF THE NEW YORK CAMPS.

IT WAS QUOTED FROM A FLORIDA FARMER IN THAT FILM REALLY ON ALL THE CONDITIONS OF THE MIGRANTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

ARE THERE REMNANTS?

AGAIN, THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPELLING PHOTOS IN THE BOOK.

ARE THERE STILL REMNANTS ABOUT OF THESE CAMPS?

IF NOT, WHAT'S THE PROPER USE FOR THEM?

THE PROPERTY RATES IN LONG ISLAND ARE SO GREAT THAT IT WAS EXPECTED THAT MOST OF THESE STRUCTURES ARE ALL GONE.

THERE IS ONE IN RIVERHEAD, A ONE-STORY BRICK CINDERBLOCK BUILDING.

THERE'S AN OLD BARN ON SHELTER ISLAND THAT WAS ONCE USED AS A CAMP.

OTHER THAN THAT THEY'RE GONE.

THAT WAS PART OF THE IMPORTANCE OF TELLING THE STORY.

IF WE'RE NOT SHARING THIS HISTORY, WE WOULD NEVER KNOW IT EXISTED.

SOMEBODY WHO HAS LIVED THERE ALL YOUR LIFE AND YOU DIDN'T KNOW THESE STORIES HERE.

THE BOOK IS CALLED 'LONG ISLAND MIGRANT LABOR CAMPS, DUST FOR BLOOD.'

MARK TORRES IS THE AUTHOR.

IT'S A COMPELLING STORY WHERE PEOPLE IN THE END WILL SAY, I NEVER KNEW THAT.

IT'S A STORY THAT NEEDS TO BE TOLD.

MARK, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

GOOD LUCK WITH THE BOOK.

YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU.

> SO BEAUTIFUL AND SO INSPIRING.

I MEAN, YOU TOOK ME TO HEAVEN FOR A LITTLE SECOND THERE.

I'M GOING FORWARD INTO MY EVENING WITH A BIG SMILE ON MY FACE.

[ LAUGHTER ] ♪

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

WE ARE TOLD THAT MUSIC HAS THE POWER TO HEAL THE SOUL.

WELL, THERE'S A GROUP RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK THAT IS TRYING TO DO JUST THAT.

CONCERTS IN MOTION, NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT WE JUST SAW IN ACTION, AS A MATTER OF FACT, WORKS TO BRING LIVE MUSIC TO SOCIALLY ISOLATED INDIVIDUALS THROUGHOUT NEW YORK CITY, LONG ISLAND AND WESTCHESTER.

WHILE THEY USED TO DO THEIR CONCERTS LIVE AND IN PERSON, CONCERTS IN MOTION HAS ADAPTED, AS WE ALL HAVE OVER THE COURSE OF THE PANDEMIC.

THEY ARE NOW ABLE TO OPERATE VIRTUALLY TO PROVIDE THEIR GIFT OF MUSIC TO SO MANY.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE THE FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CONCERTS IN MOTION, JENNIFER FINN.

WELCOME.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, MORE THAN A DECADE AGO, YOU TOOK YOUR PROFESSIONAL MUSIC BACKGROUND AND CREATED THIS ORGANIZATION.

HOW AND WHY DID THAT HAPPEN?

WELL, AT THE TIME I WAS SINGING PROFESSIONALLY AS AN OPERA SINGER.

A LOT OF MY REPERTOIRE IS EXTREMELY TECHNICALLY CHALLENGING ESPECIALLY FROM LEARNING A NEW ROLE.

WHAT I USED TO DO IS WE WILL PERFORM FOR AN AUDIENCE BEFORE WE GO IN FRONT OF A NEW CONDUCTOR.

AT THAT TIME I WAS SINGING IN VARIOUS NURSING HOMES AND HOSPITALS.

I WOULD GO IN AND SAY I'M ABOUT TO GO TO GERMANY, I'M GOING TO SING THIS ROLE AND I NEED TO SING IT FOR AN AUDIENCE.

THEY WOULD GIVE ME THEIR FEEDBACK.

THE THING THAT REALLY STRUCK ME IS HOW MUCH THEY NEEDED TO TALK AND HOW MANY MEMORIES, EVEN THE MOST ESTOTERIC OPERA, SOME OF THEM HAD GONE TO OPERA AS YOUNG PEOPLE.

THE MOST STRIKING PART OF IT WAS HOW MUCH JOY I FELT AFTER.

I JUST KEPT THINKING HOW DO OH I GET TO DO THIS?

I WAS ALSO TEACHING MUSIC PRIVATELY.

I ASKED MY STUDENTS IF INSTEAD OF THAT SCARY SPRING CONCERT WE USUALLY DO FOR THE PARENTS, IF THEY WOULD BE WILLING TO DO THIS AT A NURSING HOME AND INVITE THEIR PARENTS TO ATTEND.

THEY ALL AGREED.

I CALLED THEM AFTER AND THAT THEY ALL ENJOYED IT TOO.

THEY HAD THE SAME RESPONSE I DID.

SO THAT'S KIND OF HOW WE BEGAN.

GIVE ME A SENSE OF THE TYPES OF LOCATIONS AND THE GROUPS AND THE PLACES THAT YOU BRING CONCERTS IN MOTION TO.

SURE.

SO WE HAVE FIVE DIFFERENT PROGRAMS RUNNING PREPANDEMIC.

THE FIRST IS CALLED THE MUSIC FOR THE HOME BOUND PROGRAM, WHICH MEANS WE WERE SENDING MUSICIANS AND STUDENTS INTO THE PRIVATE APARTMENTS OF NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS WHO ARE TOO FRAIL TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES.

IN SOME CASES WE WERE THE ONLY PERSON THEY SAW THAT WEEK OUTSIDE OF THEIR CAREGIVER.

THAT PROGRAM WAS REALLY OUR FIRST PROGRAM AND OUR FIRST AGENCY PARTNER FOR THAT PROGRAM IS THE MT. SINAI VISITING DOCTORS PROGRAM.

SO THAT'S KIND OF A TEAM OF PHYSICIANS WHO ARE TELLING US, OKAY, THIS PATIENT WILL PROBABLY BENEFIT FROM THIS.

SO WE WOULD SEND THE MUSICIAN IN TO PERFORM WHATEVER MUSIC THAT PATIENT REQUESTED.

AND THEN WE HAD OTHER PROGRAMS IN GROUP SETTINGS.

A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE THIS, BUT NEW YORK CITY IS AN AGING CITY.

IN TEN YEARS THERE WILL BE MORE OLDER ADULTS THAN SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN.

WE'VE KIND OF HAD TO BE A LITTLE BIT AHEAD OF THE GAME IN TERMS OF HOW TO DEAL WITH AN AGING POPULATION.

THE CITY HAS KIND OF DESIGNATED A NATURALLY OCCURRING RETIREMENT COMMUNITY, WHICH MEANS A CITY BLOCK RADIUS WHERE ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE AGING IN PLACE THAT THE CITY DECIDES TO PUT SERVICES IN LIKE A SENIOR CENTER, SOCIAL WORK, VISITING NURSE.

THAT'S THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT FOR THE AGING.

WE DURING THE PANDEMIC WE SERVE ED EVERY SINGLE SENIOR CENTER AND THERE ARE OVER 300 OF THEM.

ONE OF THE ASPECTS OF THIS PROGRAM IS THE COMPOSITION OF THE PEOPLE WHO YOU BRING TO VARIOUS VENUES HERE.

YOU HAVE MARVELOUSLY TALENTED PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS AND YOU HAVE STUDENTS AS YOUNG AS -- WHAT'S THE YOUNGEST THAT YOU HAVE?

6.

6 YEARS OLD.

TELL ME ABOUT HOW THOSE TWO GROUPS HAVE EVOLVED AND WHAT THEY EACH PROVIDE TO THE RECIPIENTS?

YOU CAN IMAGINE SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN ARE IN SCHOOL A LOT OF DAYS.

PREPANDEMIC WE WERE SERVING SO MANY PEOPLE DURING THE DAY.

PEOPLE APPRECIATE REALLY GOOD MUSIC, ESPECIALLY NEW YORKERS.

WE THOUGHT LET'S HAVE A PRO SERIES.

WE CAN HAVE ANY KIND OF MUSIC.

WE CAN GO INTO THE APARTMENT DURING A TIME LIKE LATE MORNING/EARLY AFTERNOON.

THEN AFTER SCHOOL HOURS WE CAN PROVIDE INTERGENERATIONAL PROGRAMMING WITH STUDENT WHO IS PLAY A VARIETY OF GENRES BECAUSE THEY'RE JUST LEARNING.

THE FOCUS OF THE YOUTH PROGRAM IS TO BE A NONJUDGMENTAL SAFE SPACE FOR THEM TO TRY AND SHARE THEIR MUSIC WHICH IS CRITICAL TO LEARNING MUSIC.

YOU CAN'T JUST PRACTICE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM.

YOU HAVE TO SHARE, YOU HAVE TO TOUCH PEOPLE WITH YOUR MUSIC.

I KNOW YOU SAY TO THE STUDENTS HERE THIS IS NOT A SITUATION WHERE THEY CAN FAIL.

RIGHT.

WHY IS THAT SO VALUABLE TO THE STUDENTS, DO YOU THINK?

WELL, I THINK ANYBODY WHO'S A PARENT KNOWS THEIR CHILD IS UNDER ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF STRESS EVEN PRECOVID.

THEY'RE CONSTANTLY BEING JUDGED, CONSTANTLY THINKING ABOUT COLLEGE.

SO WE'RE REALLY KIND OF AN OASIS FOR STUDENTS.

ALSO THEY'RE LEARNING FROM US OTHER SKILLS BECAUSE THEY'RE MEETING PEOPLE THEY WOULD HAVE NEVER MET BEFORE.

THEY HAVE TO LISTEN FOR THEM.

THEY HAVE TO RECEIVE THEIR FEEDBACK.

THE PARENTS TELL US THAT THEY WATCH THEIR CHILDREN GROW UP BEFORE THEIR EYES WHILE THEY'RE INVOLVED WITH US.

WHAT A MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY TO SAY TO A CHILD YOU CAN'T FAIL, ALL YOU CAN DO IS PROVIDE JOY TO OTHER PEOPLE.

THAT'S RIGHT.

ESPECIALLY FOR ASPIRING MUSICIANS.

THEY ACTUALLY DID SOME TRAINING WITH BOTH PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN.

TELL ME ABOUT THE TRAINING.

SO EVERYTHING IS ABOUT OUR MISSION.

OUR MISSION IS TO ALLEVIATE SOCIAL ISOLATION.

WHAT WE DO IS WE PROVIDE THE PROFESSIONALS WITH TRAINING THAT'S GOING TO HELP THEM TO KIND OF PHYSICAL FILL OUR MISSION AS BEST AS POSSIBLE.

WITH THE STUDENTS, WHEN THEY REACH HIGH SCHOOL AGE, THEY CAN TAKE A LEADERSHIP TRAINING WITH US.

EVERYTHING IS FREE OF CHARGE.

A LOT OF THE ENTIRE PROGRAM IS RUN BY A SOCIAL WORKER, WHO WE'RE CONSTANTLY TRAINING THEM IN THIS KIND OF UNDERSTANDING OF LISTENING AND HOW IMPORTANT LISTENING IS TO LEADING.

OUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO HELP THEM BECOME EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT LEADERS.

NOT ALL OF THEM ARE GOING TO GO INTO MUSIC.

MAYBE A MINORITY WILL.

WE'RE HOPING THIS EXPERIENCE, THEY CAN TAKE IT WITH THEM.

WE ALSO CREATED A GRAD PROGRAM FOR OUR KIDS THAT HAVE SINCE GRADUATED.

THAT GROUP IS GROWING.

IT'S REALLY ENCOURAGING TO SEE WHAT A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES THIS HAS MADE.

WE'RE TALKING WITH JENNIFER FINN, THE FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CONCERTS IN MOTION ORGANIZATION.

TELL US HOW MANY GENRES OF MUSIC AND LANGUAGES.

16 GENRES OF MUSIC AND THEY SPEAK 17 LANGUAGES.

RECENTLY WE HAVE STUDENTS NOW SERVING THE CHINESE COMMUNITY IN SPECIAL LANGUAGE CONCERTS.

WHAT WE'RE THINKING IS MAYBE NEXT YEAR OUR YOUTH PROGRAM IS GOING TO MIRROR THE PRO SERIES A LITTLE BIT MORE WITH GENRE.

WE HAVE KIDS THAT PLAY CLASSICAL, BROADWAY.

WE HAVE OLDER ADULTS WHO APPRECIATE LOTS OF DIFFERENT GENRES.

WE DID A CONCERT WHERE THE KIDS WERE SPEAKING IN CHINESE TO THE RECIPIENTS.

IT WAS REALLY MEANINGFUL.

I MENTIONED YOUR ORGANIZATION HAD TO MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM LIVE PERFORMANCES TO VIRTUAL PERFORMANCES.

IT SEEMS THAT YOUR GROUP IS PARTICULARLY WELL SITUATED TO MAKE THAT TRANSFORMATION.

WHY?

BECAUSE OUR ENTIRE ORGANIZATION FROM THE BEGINNING OUR FIRST AGENCY PARTNER WAS MOUNT SINAI VISITING DOCS.

WE HAVE STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH THOSE SOCIAL WORKERS, NURSES AND PHYSICIANS.

THEY TELL US WHO TO SERVE.

WHEN COVID HAPPENED AND EVERYTHING LOCKED DOWN, WE WERE VERY BUSY ON THE PHONE WITH ALL OF THESE SOCIAL WORKERS.

WE USED ZOOM AS OUR TOOL FOR VIRTUAL, BECAUSE WE SERVE LOW INCOME OLDER ADULTS AS A FOCUS AND MANY OF THEM DON'T HAVE INTERNET ACCESS, SO ZOOM IS ONE OF THE ONLY PLAT FFORMS THEY COD CALL EVEN WITH A PREPAID PHONE.

OUR ENTIRE FOCUS WAS SERVING THE POOR IN A PANDEMIC, TRYING TO ALLEVIATE STRESS FOR THEIR ESSENTIAL WORKER SO THEY COULD ATTRACT THEIR COMMUNITY TO COME TOGETHER AGAIN.

WE WERE ABLE TO NOT ONLY DO MUSIC ONLINE BUT TO BUILD COMMUNITY DURING A REALLY DIFFICULT TIME.

YOU TALKED ABOUT THE VALUE TO YOUR YOUNG STUDENTS.

WE KNOW THE VALUE TO THE RECIPIENTS, THE JOY ON THEIR FACES.

WHAT ABOUT PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS?

WHAT DO THEY GET OUT OF IT?

THEY TELL US WHEN THEY PERFORM WITH US IT REMIND THEM WHY THEY WENT INTO MUSIC.

WE PAY THEM.

THEY'RE OUR EMPLOYEES.

THEY TAKE TRAINING EVERY QUARTER.

WE HAVE BREAKFAST FOR THEM TO HELP SUPPORT THEM.

SOME OF THEY WM ARE GOING INTO Y DIFFICULT SITUATIONS.

NOW THEY'VE BEEN EXPERIENCING UNEMPLOYMENT, SO WE WERE REALLY THEIR OWN EMPLOYER FOR THE LAST YEAR ESSENTIALLY.

AS YOU MOVE FORWARD AND AS WE EMERGE FROM THE DARKNESS AS WE'RE SEEING THE LIGHT NOW HERE AND AS YOU ALL PROVIDED LIGHT DURING THE DARKNESS HERE, AS WE EMERGE AND CONCERTS IN MOTION MOVES FORWARD, WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE ORGANIZATION?

OUR HOPE IS THAT WE CAN KEEP THE VIRTUAL PROGRAM AND GROW INTO DOING MORE IN CENTRAL AND WESTERN NEW YORK STATE AND THEN ALSO HAVE IN-PERSON, BECAUSE THERE ARE CLEARLY BENEFITS TO IN-PERSON PROGRAMMING.

IT'S GOING TO BE A LITTLE BIT EXPENSIVE BEING A HYBRID PROGRAM, BECAUSE AT THE MOMENT WE DO 15 CONCERTS A WEEK ONLINE.

AND WE WERE DOING 1500 CONCERTS IN PERSON BEFORE THE AND BEGAN.

WE'RE TRYING TO PLAN IT OUT, BUT WE REALLY FEEL LIKE WE COULD BE DOING A LOT MORE FOR OUR MISSION BY HAVING BOTH OPTIONS.

LAST QUESTION.

FOR VIEWERS WATCHING THIS SAYING, WHAT A MARVELOUS ORGANIZATION, I WONDER HOW I CAN HELP, WHAT CAN THEY DO?

THEY CAN GO TO OUR WEBSITE AND MAKE A DONATION.

IF THEY WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT US, WE CAN ALWAYS ADD THEM TO THE MAILING LIST.

WE HAVE A LOVELY E NEWSLETTER THAT GOES OUT ONCE A MONTH AND GIVES IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT OUR WORK.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN ONCE TALKED ABOUT LOOKING FOR THE BETTER ANGELS FOR OUR NATURE, AND I THINK YOU CAN FIND THEM IN CONCERTS IN MOTION.

THANK YOU.

MARVELOUS WORK BY YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION.

GOOD LUCK.

TAKE CARE.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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