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April 24, 2016

Sing For Your Seniors: A Performer’s Outlet, A Life-Changing Program

Playbill
By Alex Rubin

Actress Jackie Vanderbeck was falling out of love with singing. That is until she found an audience that needed her.

New York City can be a lonely place to live, but for its senior residents, the fast-paced metropolis is absolutely isolating. When ailments restrict their movement, medication dictate their energy and financial burdens limit their access to the arts, seniors find themselves stuck in hospitals, assisted-living facilities, and even their own homes. Vanderbeck, who grew up close to her grandparents and great-grandparents, wondered, “Where are all of the [seniors]?” As a young actress running from audition to audition, she never crossed paths with the older generation.

Simultaneously, Vanderbeck was looking for a way to volunteer, but every opportunity required long term commitment, something an actor can never guarantee. She might be cast in a show and leave town with as little as a few days notice. Volunteering at an established organization was impossible. Like a true artist, Vanderbeck created her own opportunity.

She contacted senior centers, asking the facilities if she could come in and sing a few songs, until a living facility in the Village responded. Vanderbeck was such an instant hit that she soon ran out of material to sing. She reached out to her fellow graduates from The University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and recruited her roommate to play piano. After several performances, the group named themselves one day while walking to a senior center: Sing For Your Seniors was born.

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cdacosta@sageusa.org

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