Meet Joanne McEntee Miller, our featured volunteer from Philadelphia!
Get to know our volunteers!
Do you volunteer at a specific hospital? I volunteer at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and the Philadelphia Veterans Medical Center Community Living Center
How long have you been volunteering with Musicians On Call? 4 years
Are you a Volunteer Guide or Volunteer Musician? Guide
What is your occupation outside of MOC? Computer Programmer
What is your story? What connects you with music and why do you volunteer with MOC? My connection to music is simply as an appreciative audience, and Philadelphia’s local scene is a great place to enjoy that connection. It was through Philly’s local music scene that I learned of Musicians on Call, on WXPN radio. Their announcements reminded me of my own experience years ago when my young daughter was seriously ill. Every Friday back then, a woman who worked at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia volunteered during her lunchtime by giving manicures to the children. My daughter got so excited every time “The Nail Polish Lady” arrived! There was no thought of illness during the manicure or for hours afterwards when my daughter would show her sparkly blue nails to everyone who came into the room. And although I was a worried and exhausted parent, I too could laugh and enjoy the therapeutic effects of that volunteer’s simple actions. So, when I heard about Musicians On Call it sounded like the perfect way for me to help bring similar relief to families who can really use a lift. Every program holds a moment (or more) that demonstrates the therapeutic effects of Musicians On Call, such as the time recently when I heard a girl at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children “exclaim” to her grandmother, “The Music People are here!” Through the glass in the door I saw her clap her hands together, smiling the biggest smile – all that even *before* our musicians played their song for her!
What makes MOC different from your other volunteer experiences? You can see the music taking effect, whether it’s a veteran closing his eyes to absorb every note, or a teenager being amazed that there is something as cool as live music in a hospital, or a young child who only feels the joy in the moment and doesn’t think about where we are — only that there’s fun music right here right now so it’s time to wiggle and sing and dance! I have volunteered for school projects and sports teams in the past — and worked a lot harder! — I think the MOC experience is much deeper. I even feel a little selfish, actually, because the music is therapy for me as much as for the audiences we visit.
What is your favorite #MOCmoment? My very first “solo” program I entered a toddler’s room. The lighting was dim and his young mom was slumped in a chair, so weighted down her face was almost touching her knees. She barely answered, but did nod slightly to give us permission to play a song. As the musician played for the toddler, gradually the mom began to pick her head up, sit up a bit, and begin to cry streams of silent tears. Her child was gleefully jumping in the crib the whole time. At the end of the song, the mom thanked us over and over and said she *really* needed that, she was so glad we came. I’ve never seen someone so transformed as that woman was between the beginning and end of the song.