An Odd Turn of events

Jongleur By Jongleur, 12th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Freelancing

A bit of background on me, what I do and my attempts to play for the Veterans Hospital in Atlanta Ga

"An Odd turn of events"

Since 2009, I have lived in the Greater Atlanta Ga area, and since 2010, I have been playing music; piano and singing, for Retirement communities, Assisted Livings and Nursing Homes. For almost that entire time, I have been TRYING to go play for the Veterans Administrations Home for the Elderly, (known as "The Eagle's Nest") at the VA Hospital in Decatur Ga.

The VA, I was told, doesn't PAY for Entertainment, but that was okay, because I wanted to give back to the VA. They have done quite a bit for me, both in medical and mental health treatments, counseling etc but in a 'left handed' sort of way, the VA is responsible for me playing music for these venues in the first place. Here's why.

In 2003, after 40 yrs of being a slave to alcohol and drugs, and having been through numerous (Court ordered) rehabs, I placed MYSELF into a 'Christ Based 12 step" patterned after the AA (Alcohol Anonymous). Because I had made the decision, this time I actually began the long road to recovery. I got 5 months sober and drug free before I relapsed, but it was a start.
In 2007, I placed myself into the VA "Homeless Veterans Domiciliary Program" in Dublin Ga. This is a 6 month program, during which you lived IN the VA Hospital, worked there and got clean time and some job training.
I have always been one, that if there is a piano there, I MUST play a song, if for no other reason than to see if it was tuned.

After the first month, when they found that I really COULD play, they decided to let me play for one hour, once a week, in the Nursing Home ward, and one hour in the Alzheimer ward. It was there especially, that I saw the remarkable value that my music had in reaching those poor folks who were locked inside their own minds, and for the Nursing Home ward, just how much of a bright spot in their otherwise rather dismal lives my coming to play was.
Fast forward to 2009, I moved to the Atlanta Ga area. I was unemployed, and everytime I looked in the want ads, there were posts about Nursing homes, needing CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). I had done home care for several relative off and on for years. I decided to go to school for this, and get my license.
So, in 2010 when I was finishing up my CNA school, we worked 4 days AT a Nursing Home, once again, not being able to pass a piano without trying it out, when they saw that I could play, rather than sit and help spoon feed those Residents who couldn't feed them selves, they had me play the piano during the lunch period. At the end of the 4 th day, the Activities Director approached me and asked if I would be interested in coming to play for them in an evening situation, just me and my keyboard.
I said "Sure, but I would need at LEAST some gas money"...she said, "oh don't worry, I'll pay you" and that night when I came to play, she handed me an envelope, which later when I opened it, had $40 in it!!!
WOW! I thought. They'll PAY me to do this! to do what I love and have a gift for.

Almost immediately, as I began finding places around to play, I checked with the VA. That was when I was told they didn't pay. I didn't approach them again for another year or so, but when I did, I said I would come play for free, only I would need someone to be able to keep an eye on my equipment after I had unloaded, so I could go find a parking place.
Parking is a BIG problem at the VA.
For the last 3 yrs now, I have been consistently told that they simply could NOT spare someone to come and stand there while I go find a parking spot. Of even take my car to park it while **I** go ahead and start setting up.
A month ago, I yet again, tried to reach out to come play, and seemed to make some headway, but alas it seemed to fall through.
Then...this morning, a male voice was on the other end when I answered my phone. He said his name was Tom, he was calling from the VA to see if I could come play for them next Tuesday. I didn't have my calendar open but I asked him to send me an email with the details.
He did. But it turns out that I am booked that day, in Decatur, but at the very same time he wanted me for the VA. BUT after several emails, in one of which I disclosed that I normally make between $70-$85 for a one hour performance, he wrote back saying he thought my fee was something like $400! He said he would gladly pay me that fee to come play for them!!!!
What a turn around!
Now, after another year of dancing around with these pencil pushers, I am now set up to go play, not for the Eagle's Nest ( the Nursing Home section) but on the 4th floor Acute Mental Health Ward. The offer for pay has evaporated, of course.


Entertainment, Helping, Music

Meet the author

author avatar Jongleur
I play piano and sing for the Elderly in care facilities in Atlanta for 8 yrs. I am also a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) I work for a home care agency now, as a patient transport.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
15th Sep 2015 (#)

Thanks for sharing your article.

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author avatar Jongleur
15th Sep 2015 (#)

Thank YOU, for reading my article Nancy ♥

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