Meet Kara McKee, Our Featured Volunteer from Boston!

02 Jul

Meet Kara McKee, Our Featured Volunteer from Boston!

Get to know our volunteers!

Do you volunteer at a specific hospital? I volunteer at the VA.

How long have you been volunteering with Musicians On Call? I have been volunteering for two years.

Are you a volunteer guide or musician? Musician

What is your favorite song to play for patients? My go-to songs are Stand By Me (if the patient wants something low key) and Me and Bobby McGee (if the patient wants something more upbeat). I love playing Bobby McGee! A lot of the time the patients reminisce about seeing Janis Joplin live in Boston back in the day. I bet a lot of the patients were at the same show!

Have you ever been part of an impromptu jam session with patients or family in a hospital room? No jam sessions yet, but I always try to honor requests if there is something specific the patient wants to hear. I’ve been very lucky to take part in a handful of duets on patients favorite tunes.

Do you perform anywhere else besides with MOC? Yes! I perform with my family band, Rosemere Road. We sing folksy-sad-songs in 3 part harmony… a different vibe compared to the uplifting MOC cover repertoire.

What is your occupation outside of MOC? Manager of Digital Experience at TJX Companies

Do you have any hidden talents? I’m a pretty good pool player!

What is your story? What connects you with music and why do you volunteer with MOC? Music has been an important part of my life for a long time. I grew up singing in the church choir and carried on through high school chorus, college acapella, and now as a grown up with my family band. I believe in the healing power of music. I have always depended on music to help me through a tough day. It’s amazing what a shared song can do to lift your spirits! That is why I volunteer with MOC! I love MOC’s mission to deliver the healing power of music to the bedside of patients. I also love that MOC is dedicated to serving our Veterans, who have sacrificed so much. I believe in the healing power of music. I have always depended on music to help me through a tough day. It’s amazing what a shared song can do to lift your spirits!

That is why I volunteer with MOC! I love MOC’s mission to deliver the healing power of music to the bedsides of patients. I also love that MOC is dedicated to serving our Veterans, who have sacrificed so much.

What makes MOC different from your other volunteer experiences? I love volunteering with MOC because all it takes is a couple of minutes to totally shift the energy of a patients night for the better. \n\nA typical visit begins with our Volunteer Guide introducing herself to the patients, and asking if they would like to hear a song. Often times the Volunteer Guide is walking into a dark and quiet room of several patients that are not interested in being disturbed. I think this is the hardest part of the visit… we’re so lucky to have such wonderful Guides (Karen and Kristina!!), who are very good at warming up the room and breaking the ice. I have the easy part of the visit…by the time I come into the room the energy has already started to shift. I love to chat with the Vets about their favorite bands and songs. Many have memories of seeing their favorite musicians performing back in the day. Lots of the patients are musicians themselves and like to share stories.. like playing trumpet in the military band or learning to play the piano when they were younger. Some like to give me advice on my guitar playing, and I welcome the feedback! We always have a little chat about what they are in the mood to hear that night. After we decide on a song I do my best to entertain. Start to finish our visit takes only a couple of minutes. But in that short time, we often see a patients energy completely shift. I love seeing the Veterans tapping their feet, smiling at each other and hearing them sing along with me. My favorite part of the visit is walking out of the room… which only minutes before was quiet and dark… and hearing the patients start up conversations with each other.. things like “hey, that was actually pretty good” 🙂

Has your life changed because of your experience with Musicians On Call? Yes! Volunteering with MOC continues to give me important perspective on my own life. I am so grateful for my health and safety, and for the men and women who have served our country.

What is your favorite #MOCmoment? One night I played in a room of four patients. Three of the patients welcomed the company, but the 4th patient asked that we keep his curtain drawn so that he would not be disturbed (for the record, I totally understand not wanting to be disturbed… pretty sure it was Monday Night Football, and the Pats were playing…) Anyway, I played a couple of songs for the room. We all had a good time! Before moving on to the next room, our guide (Kristina!) glanced over at the 4th patient. Kristina could tell that he wanted to say something, so she asked one more time if he wanted to hear a song. He said yes! We chatted for a couple minutes about what he wanted to hear.. after disappointing him with my lack of Led Zeppelin skills we moved on to Fleetwood Mac. When the song was finished the patient looked us in the eye and gave the most sincere thank you of the night. After leaving the room Kristina told me that this particular patient had been in the hospital for several months. She had seen him multiple times and he always turned down the offer for a song, but for some reason that night he changed his mind. It might sound crazy, but I truly believe the Fleetwood Mac song and the quick chat helped this patient heal a little bit quicker.
Anyway, I played a couple of songs for the room. We all had a good time!

Do you want to help us deliver the healing power of music? Apply to volunteer as a guide or a musician today!

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