I was a 10-year-old boy growing up in a sketchy neighborhood and having family problems, both which made me see the world as a very small place. I decided to expand my world by becoming a member of the Bloomington Boys and Girls Club. I made new friends and learned so many different things. The Club offered several after school clubs; cooking, book club, chemistry and violin lessons. I came home with the registration and told my mom I was interested in learning how to play the violin and that day changed my life forever. When I approached my mom about the idea, she was ecstatic but surprised that of all the options, I chose the violin. When I started my lessons I met my teacher Anastasia, who I am still friends with to this day. She said I had potential and that she had never met anyone my age with so much potential and love of the instrument. She was so delighted that she offered to continue giving me private lessons free of charge. As I improved, I enjoyed the violin more and more. I also began keyboard lessons taught by Anastasia’s friend Crystal. One day it was announced that I was the recipient of a performing arts scholarship for playing the violin; just doing what I loved. My mom and I attended the scholarship party and Dot Kesling presented me with a plaque and the scholarship. Due to scheduling conflicts, I decided it was best to give my scholarship money to both Anastasia and Crystal for all they did for me and my mom.
Dot visited the Club, wanting to get the word out about carbon monoxide poisoning and was asking for volunteers to help with the upcoming event. I asked if I could man the door and take the lead in getting signatures while informing and asking people if they would like to help the cause and end deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in Indiana. After the event Dot and I really bonded. We have been a power duo for years now. I later discontinued the keyboard to pursue only the violin; taking lessons at the Club while also starting in the school orchestra. I started in the 6th grade, played through middle school and once I became a high school freshman, I joined HYP (high school youth philharmonic). HYP is the blending of two rival schools into one, up on that stage performing beautiful music together. The places I've been and played because of the violin are phenomenal. As a freshman, HYP performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. where I was among 100+ students representing Bloomington, Indiana. We received a standing ovation--I will never forget it. Last year, HYP took us to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. We earned 2nd place in the competition. We don’t know where our trip will be this year but it will most likely be a place I wouldn’t have a chance to see otherwise.
Two summers ago I traveled to Michigan City, Indiana, to participate in an LOK Wishing Tree Foundation event. I was asked to welcome and show them around. I was able to see the impact that the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation has had in providing kids across the nation experiences they might not have ever been given. Seeing the potential of wonderful young artists is so inspirational. Dot is amazing. She is saving so many people every single day that it's hard to comprehend. I am truly grateful for all I have been given, thanks to the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation. They helped me grow and become a better person. I'm glad that this is a part of my life and that it will be for years to come.
~ Charlie Brown - Bloomington, Indiana