ADS clients
Martha helps program participants (l-r) Janet, Amy, Martha, and FiftyForward Director of Volunteer Engagement Robin Johnson learn about finger placement on the recorder.

Music to our Ears: FiftyForward receives donation from Tennessee First Lady’s Office

FiftyForward is grateful to Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee and her office for the thoughtful gifts and donations to support the older adults we serve.

The story behind the donation started in December when the music group Callisto, from the Nashville Chapter of the American Recorder Society, entertained FiftyForward Friends Adult Day Services program participants and FiftyForward Knowles members.

Martha, a former music teacher and previous member of Callisto, was one of the FiftyForward Friends program participants in attendance when the group performed. When Jack, her husband picked Martha  up after the day’s program, FiftyForward Friends Adult Day Services Activity Coordinator Daniel Christian learned so much more about Martha, her love of recorders, and her background.

Daniel was impressed by the thoughtful way Martha expressed her ideas about sharing her musical talents with the other Friends participants.  And Martha’s husband Jack suggested that perhaps FiftyForward could solicit the donation of recorders so that the entire Friends group could play music together. Daniel shared this story with Director of Volunteer Engagement Robin Johnson hoping she could find someone to donate recorders so they could start a musical group.

In a wonderful and very timely coincidence, that same afternoon, First Lady Maria Lee’s office emailed FiftyForward Chief Program Officer Gretchen Funk and Robin asking if they could purchase items to support one of FiftyForward’s programs. This outreach was in support of Lee’s Tennessee Serves campaign that in January focused on serving older adults. The FiftyForward team was able to quickly put together a list that included not only recorders but art supplies including watercolor paper, beads, and origami paper.  Within a few hours the First Lady’s office confirmed that they would purchase and ship all the suggested items directly to FiftyForward.

As the shipments began to arrive and Daniel led the group in unboxing the items. Martha immediately began teaching the other program participants to play their newly acquired recorders.  It is hard to believe that the formation of a musical recorder group went from dream to reality in such a short period of time!

ADS clients
The FiftyForward Friends program participants unboxed their gifts from the First Lady’s office. Pictured (l-r)  are Zera, FiftyForward Friends Adult Day Services Activity Assistant Elizabeth, Amy, Marilyn, Janet, Jennifer, and Charlene.

At FiftyForward, we are acutely aware older adults can experience loneliness, food insecurity, immobility, and other challenges. We are grateful to the First Lady Lee for shining a light on older adults and asking Tennesseans, during this monthly Service Challenge, to help by doing any of the following:  (And, we are convinced this help is welcome throughout the year)

  • Stop by an assisted living center to play games with residents,
  • Help an elderly neighbor shop for groceries, mow their yard, or clean their home,
  • Send an encouraging note to a senior, and
  • Volunteer to help clean or organize at your local senior citizen center.
ADS clients recorders
Pictured finding a melody are (l-r) are Zera, Amy, Janet, Martha and FiftyForward Friends Adult Day Services Activity Coordinator Daniel Christian.

To learn more about the First Lady’s Monthly Service Challenge visit  

Connect with organizations such as FiftyForward in your community to see how you can assist them. Learn more about opportunities to volunteer with a FiftyForward program here:

ADS clients
Martha (standing) shares with onlookers including (l-r) Zera, Amy, and Janet.
ADS client playing recorder
FiftyForward Friends participant Martha demonstrates other proper techniques for performing.