What do a gas can, block of wood, and pieces of string all have in common? They were all instrumental in the creation of Nashville non-profit, Instruments of Joy. Founded in 2013, the mission of Instruments of Joy is to provide quality musical instruments to musicians in need. The organization came to be after President, Joshua MacLeod, went on a short-term mission trip to Malawi to serve orphans in a place that he described as being one of the most destitute situations he’d ever seen. “There was no electricity, very little running water and people were eating only once a day. You’re walking around thinking, ‘What can I do? What am I doing here?’” recalls MacLeod.
MacLeod’s answer to these questions came in the unlikely form of a child who had fashioned a guitar out of the aforementioned gas can, block of wood and pieces of string. With each strum of the child’s make-shift guitar MacLeod noticed something remarkable happen, the orphanage’s once gloomy atmosphere that was void of hope completely changed. Suddenly, the room was filled with song, clapping and worship! That’s when it hit him. MacLeod had three guitars sitting in his bonus room back in Nashville that were doing nothing but collecting dust—he had to ask himself, was he being as impactful with his three underused guitars as this child was in the Malawian orphanage bringing hope to his community? However, MacLeod wasn’t the only one on this trip who had taken notice of the child. A friend of his, Kenny Meeks, also saw the positive effects of song in the orphanage and felt compelled to trade the guitar he had brought with him from home for the gas can guitar. Unbeknownst to MacLeod at the time, this was his first glimpse into what would later become Instruments of Joy.
After years of traveling the world studying global poverty MacLeod found that:
“If you’re living in great poverty it is fundamentally important to see and hear beautiful things, and the first step toward poverty alleviation is hope. If someone doesn’t feel like things can get better, they’re not going to take that next step, but when you bring beauty into an area where there is none, you stimulate hope. In this case, instruments make music and music brings hope, but you can’t have music if you don’t have an instrument to begin with which is where Instruments of Joy steps in. Because even if a person is living in an orphanage and even if they’re in a destitute situation, if they hear an incredible song or see somebody who is full of joy there is a spark and a seed planted in their heart that says that things can get better.”
Today, Instruments of Joy has relationships with 100 different organizations in Nashville and surrounding areas who travel around the world doing good and act as distributors of donated instruments to those in need. These relationships are made strategically with partners such as churches, other nonprofits, etc. who already have deep relationships with communities where there is great need so that Instruments of Joy can connect the donated instrument to the right person. Partners will carry the donated instrument with them on the plane and meet the recipient at the airport or wherever is most convenient to make the hand-off. As a part of Instruments of Joy’s agreement, every single person that receives an instrument must have their picture taken. This not only acts as a form of proof that the instrument has made it into the right hands, but also serves as a way for donors to see the impact their making. Instruments of Joy receives donations from local manufacturers, re-sale organizations, repair shops and individual donors to maintain a constant supply of quality instruments. To date over 400 instruments have been delivered to 56 countries across the globe.
Interested in being a part of the movement? If you have an instrument to donate, visit www.instrumentsofjoy.org and fill out a donation form. Donors can either have their instrument scheduled to be picked up, or they can choose to leave it at one of Instruments of Joy’s many drop-off locations. Those that are interested in giving monetarily also have the opportunity to join the Crew as an individual or company and donate an instrument for as little as $20 a month annually. For more information and ways to get involved please contact Instruments of Joy’s Program Coordinator, Andria Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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