In the Spring of 2015 we received a call from a chapter regent in Garden City, New York inquiring about how her chapter could help support our efforts here in the mountains of East Kentucky. Her specific interest in the variety of programming we offer and how it relates to our cultural heritage in Central Appalachia afforded the perfect opportunity to jumpstart a program we had wanted to offer for many years. Leslie Dimmling and the members of the Col. Aaron Ogden Chapter loved the idea of donating enough funds to purchase traditional musical instruments for the local elementary school children in Knott County. Community partner Appalshop/ WMMT’s Passing the Pick and Bow Program in Letcher County has been very successful in getting young students interested in the traditional Appalachian music of our region for over a decade. We were very excited to bring this program to our schools in Knott County. In Leslie’s words: “The type of music the children will learn there is a precious part of our American cultural heritage and cannot be lost to history, but must rather be carefully passed along to new generations.” As a traditional Appalachian fiddle player myself, I have been particularly proud of the partnership of the Col. Aaron Ogden Chapter and seeing this program come to fruition.
Students are able to learn fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and thanks to the gifts of this chapter they don’t have to worry about purchasing instruments, which can be a big expense, but rather can rent them through the school year as they venture into this endeavor. Wyatt (shown in picture) is one student in particular who has really taken off with his new found interest in the banjo. His mother, Shelly, says, “As he told me, ‘when I first picked up the banjo, I felt like I had a new story to tell.’ After that first lesson, he was hooked… His father and I are so appreciative to Hindman Settlement School for giving our son a new opportunity to express himself through music and for sharing Appalachian culture with him so he can share it with others.”
Since that initial connection with Leslie and the Col. Aaron Ogden Chapter they have also been supportive of our Dyslexia Reading Lab program and general fund. We have been thrilled to have this new relationship formed. Currently the chapter stays busy with a variety of projects and group work such as a library display for the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks Service, a chapter luncheon upcoming this spring which raises funds for many worthy DAR philanthropies, and a trip to join a volunteer organization in Long Island which rescues injured wildlife. Leslie says of her chapter, “There are many ways to help preserve and protect our American heritage and we try hard to raise awareness of these issues!” Thank you to this chapter, and the many supporters we have all across the country. We could not do the work we do without the generosity of folks like you!
From left to right: Chapter Regent Leslie Dimmling, Arlene Kister, Margaret Tillotson, Isabelle Smith (with cookies!), Janet Littlejohn, Janet Garraputo, Carole Vahey, and Rosalyn Dorn. Photo by June Fay.